How to construct a solo over a progression part 1

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How to construct a solo over a progression part 1

Postby spilly » Fri May 23, 2008 11:17 am

So, the goal of this lesson is to teach you how to construct a guitar solo. This means we're going to have to analyze scales thoroughly, and break them down bit by bit.

Overview:
Playing a solo over a chord progression involves moving through a scale and pinpointing certain notes at certain times. To keep it simple, we're going to pinpoint the notes in the chord we're playing over, as the progression changes, so should the notes you pinpoint. We will build on scales and complexity as we go along.

Method:
I'll start on a small scale for the basic idea, then apply the idea to the full neck of the guitar. For the purposes of this lesson I'll use the key of C, which I must note is the same as A minor. I'll be laying out the different chords and scale outlines within the key of C, hopefully this will help you see the relationship between scales and chords in a new light.

Onward:
The small scale examples will all be between the 4th and 8th fret. I will post the entire neck versions in the part 2 thread which will deal with breaking out of the box, but for now I'll stick with one hand position.

Fist off, the entire scale looks like this

Key= C

E-:: ::5:: ::7::8::
B-:: ::5::6:: ::8::
G-::4::5:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::7:: ::
a-:: ::5:: ::7::8::
e-:: ::5:: ::7::8::

now, we'll break the scale down into smaller increments focusing on one chord or shape at a time

Key C (Am)
Focus= C (C,E,G)
#'s= note's in C chord

E-:: :: :: ::8::
B-::5:: :: ::8::
G-::5:: :: :: ::
D-::5:: :: :: ::
a-:: :: ::7:: ::
e-:: :: :: ::8::

so, when playing over a C chord these are the notes you typically want to end or begin your phrases on, however, we need connector notes, so we'll add the C major/Am minor pentatonic over it.
C major/ A minor Pentatonic= C,D,E,G,A

Key= C (Am)
Focus= C (C,E,G)
#'s= notes in C chord
*= remaining notes in C pentatonic (A,D)


E-:: ::*:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
G-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
e-:: ::*:: :: ::8::

now, if your playing over a C, you want to end phrases on # note's, and string phrases together using the * note's. So let's look at a different Chord in the same key and position, I'll go with Am as it is the relative minor of C, therefor our pentatonic scale remains the same.

Key=C (Am)
Focus= Am (A,C,E)
#'s= notes in Am chord

E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
G-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
D-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
A-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::8::

and the surrounding Pentatonic (Am pentatonic)

Key= C (Am)
Focus= Am (A,C,E)
#'s= notes in Am chord
*= remaining notes in pentatonic scale (D,G)

E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::5:: :: ::*::
G-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::8::

as you can see, it's still the same pentatonic shape, but with different focal point's over different chords.

I'll line the 2 scales up next to each other for a better view of pattern differences.

C
E-:: ::*:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
G-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
e-:: ::*:: :: ::8::

Am
E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::5:: :: ::*::
G-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::8::

so, as you can see we have two separate distinct patterns or shapes formed within a larger pattern.

When playing a pentatonic over a scale your relatively safe, If you don't have the chord shape itself memorized, you still have a 3 out of 5 chance of ending on the right note. These odds aren't good enough for me, as ending on the wrong note could ruin what was potentially a great lick or phrase. Knowing the shapes of the chords within the scale is very important, especially when we add our next layer, being the full scale itself. If you don't know your shapes when playing the full scale your odds of ending on the right note are 3 to 7. In other words the odds are against you. That being said let's apply these 2 basic chord shapes to the entire scale.
First We'll look at the Pentatonic and add the extra notes

Key= C
Focus C major/ A minor pentatonic (C,D,E,G,A)
#'s= notes in pentatonic scale
*= remaining notes in scale (F,B)

E-:: ::5:: ::*::8::
B-:: ::5::*:: ::8::
G-::*::5:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::5:: ::7::*::
e-:: ::5:: ::*::8::

now that we can see the relationship between the full scale and the pentatonic, let's isolate the two chords were looking at within the full scale

Key= C (Am)
Focus= C (C,E,G)
#'s= notes in C chord
*= remaining notes in scale (D,F,A,B)

E-:: ::*:: ::*::8::
B-:: ::5::*:: ::8::
G-::*::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7::*::
e-:: ::*:: ::*::8::

Key= C (Am)
Focus= Am (A,C,E)
#'s= notes in Am chord
*= remaining notes in scale (D,F,G,B)

E-:: ::5:: ::*::8::
B-:: ::5::*:: ::*::
G-::*::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7::*::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::8::

So with our 2 basic root chords out of the way we can now look at the other notes in the scale and their relationship to chords. This going to involve using different chord and pentatonic shapes over the same scale (C). As you'll notice the C pentatonic scale does not have an F in it. So when playing an F chord in the key of C we can use the F pentatonic, as F is the major 4th of C, the F pentatonic note's also line up with a C major scale, as will the G pentatonic being the dominant 5th.
Since we've looked at the first and third of our scale (C and Am), let's have a whack at the second and fourth (Dm and F)
since Dm is the relative minor of F, they are going to share the same pentatonic shape, just as Am and C did.

First we'll look at the chord shapes.

Key= C (Am)
Focus= F (F,A,C)
#'s= notes in F chord


E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: :: ::6:: :: ::
G-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
D-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
A-:: :: :: :: ::8::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::8::

now well look at the chord within the pentatonic shape
F/Dm pentatonic= F,G,A,C,D

Key= C (Am)
Focus= F (F,A,C)
#'s= notes in F chord
*= remaining notes in F/Dm pentatonic (G,D)

E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: :: ::6:: ::*::
G-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::*:: :: ::8::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::8::

at this point you should see that this pentatonic shape utilizes different notes within our overall scale in this case the E from our previous C/Am pentatonic have been replaces with F.

Key= C (Am)
Focus= Dm (D,F,A)
#'s= notes in Dm chord

E-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
B-:: :: ::6:: :: ::
G-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
D-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
e-:: ::5:: :: :: ::

now with the pentatonic

Key= C (Am)
Focus= Dm (D,F,A)
#'s= notes in Dm chord
*= remaining notes in F/Dm pentatonic (C,G)

E-:: ::5:: :: ::*::
B-:: :: ::6:: ::*::
G-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
e-:: ::5:: :: ::*::


before I get any further, I'll show you the chord shapes within the overall scale

Key= C (Am)
Focus= F (F,A,C)
#'s= notes in F chord
*= remaining notes in scale (G,B,D,E,)

E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::*::6:: ::*::
G-::*::5:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::*::8::
e-:: ::5:: ::*::8::


Key= C (Am)
Focus= Dm (D,F,A)
#'s= notes in Dm chord
*= remaining notes in scale (B,C,E,G)

E-:: ::5:: :: ::*::
B-:: ::*::6:: ::*::
G-::*::*:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::5:: ::*::8::
e-:: ::5:: ::*::*::

Now, we're past the chord shapes, let's take a minute to look at what we have going on with the Pentatonic scales.

we'll look at the F/Dm pentatonic within the overall scale first

Key= C (Am)
Focus= F major/ Dm pentatonic (F,G,A,C,D)
#'s= notes in pentatonic scale
*= remaining notes in scale (B,E)

E-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
B-:: ::*::6:: ::8::
G-::*::5:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::5:: ::*::8::
e-:: ::5:: ::*::8::

So that's all well and good. now let's take our C/Am pentatonic and layer it over our F/Dm pentatonic. This is where it all starts to come together.
The C/Am pentatonic and the F/Dm pentatonic share 4 of the same notes (C,D,G,A) since they are 5 note scales this leaves a one note differential between the two different scales. The extra note being F in the case of the F/Dm pentatonic, and E in the case of the C/Am pentatonic. So if we stack these two scales on top of each other, we now have 6 notes we can play, leaving one note (B) out of the full scale.

The missing note (B) can be found in our next set of chord's and it's matching pentatonic scale. This brings us to G and Em
yet a third time I'll mention: As Em is the relative minor of G, G major and Em share a pentatonic scale.

so here we go again, first the chord shapes

Key= C (Am)
Focus= G (G,B,D)
#'s= notes in G chord

E-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
B-:: :: :: :: ::8::
G-::4:: :: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
A-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
e-:: :: :: ::7:: ::

now we'll take a look at what the chord looks like with in the new pentatonic shape
G/Em pentatonic= G,A,B,D,E

Key= C (Am)
Focus= G (G,B,D)
#'s= notes in G chord
*= remaining notes in G/Em pentatonic (A,E)

E-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
B-:: ::*:: :: ::8::
G-::4:: :: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
A-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
e-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::

now we'll look at Em

Key= C (Am)
Focus= Em (E,G,B)
#'s= notes in Em chord

E-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
B-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
G-::4:: :: :: :: ::
D-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
A-:: :: :: ::7:: ::
e-:: :: :: ::7:: ::


and with the G/Em pentatonic:

Key= C (Am)
Focus= Em (E,G,B)
#'s= notes in Em chord
*= remaining notes in G/Em pentatonic (A,D)

E-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
B-:: ::5:: :: ::8::
G-::4:: :: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::5:: :: :: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::
e-:: ::*:: ::7:: ::

let's look at the chord shapes within the overall scale

Key= C (Am)
Focus= G (G,B,D)
#'s= notes in G chord
*= remaining notes in scale (A,C,E,F)

E-:: ::*:: ::7::*::
B-:: ::*::*:: ::8::
G-::4::*:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
A-:: ::5:: ::*::*::
e-:: ::*:: ::7::*::


Key= C (Am)
Focus= Em (E,G,B)
#'s= notes in Em chord
*= remaining notes in scale (F,A,C,D)

E-:: ::*:: ::7::*::
B-:: ::5::*:: ::8::
G-::4::*:: ::*:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::*:: ::
A-:: ::*:: ::7::*::
e-:: ::*:: ::7::*::


now that the chord shapes are out of the way we can look at the G/Em pentatonic shape and how it relates to the rest of the scale

Key= C (Am)
Focus= G/Em pentatonic scale.
#'s= notes in G/Em pentatonic (G,A,B,D,E)
*= remaining notes in scale (F,C)

E-:: ::5:: ::7::*::
B-:: ::5::*:: ::8::
G-::4::*:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::7:: ::
A-:: ::5:: ::7::*::
e-:: ::5:: ::7::*::


Now you'll find that if you layer all three pentatonic scales over top of each other they combine to make the 7 notes that make up the full scale.
so we end where we began

Key= C

E-:: ::5:: ::7::8::
B-:: ::5::6:: ::8::
G-::4::5:: ::7:: ::
D-:: ::5:: ::7:: ::
a-:: ::5:: ::7::8::
e-:: ::5:: ::7::8::

I will lay out this concept on a larger scale (i.e. the entire neck of the guitar) soon in a part 2 thread. I've done enough typing for now, and my brain hurts a little bit, but I hope this helps for now, please feel free to ask any questions.

I'll get to work on the full scale version, and get into more detail as we go along

Practice:
practice the different chord shapes along with there relative pentatonic shapes. then practice the pentatonic shapes in between running the full scale, then break down into your chord shapes again.

Homework:
transcribe the scales, idea's and shapes into a different key on your own. This will help embed the knowledge into your brain, you will understand it better than if you simply stare at dots on the chart all day.
do what now?
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Postby Tennessee Jedi » Fri May 23, 2008 11:30 am

dude can u just show me smokE on the waTer ?
:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby mttourpro » Fri May 23, 2008 11:57 am

dude can u just show me smokE on the waTer ?
:lol:

How bout for the piano. That tab stuff is weird.



Wow...what a nice job there spilly. very cool of you to post all that.
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Postby Tennessee Jedi » Fri May 23, 2008 12:03 pm

Duh us guitarist are dumb
no read music
need "tabs"
:D :D :D :D
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Postby spilly » Fri May 23, 2008 12:44 pm

Image


there you go
do what now?
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Postby Tennessee Jedi » Fri May 23, 2008 12:54 pm

I should have asked for Let it grow !
:lol:
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Postby LazyLightnin » Fri May 23, 2008 6:48 pm

awsome spilly! I still have problems soloing. appreciate this alot man. 8)
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Postby sack the wack » Fri May 23, 2008 7:00 pm

Ok, Ok, I'm gettin it. That loud grinding noise is the gears starting motion. Can you wait about 2mos. for the next part as it may take me that long to get this? Kiddin'. I'll look at the other post closer now. Thanx man.
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Postby Jon S. » Mon May 26, 2008 7:22 am

It's really cool that you took the time to share that super-practical info. with us. I hope everyone can read it.

I would just add that the wonderful thing about music in general - this is true, in my experience, for most genres - is that we're rarely, if ever, more than a half step from a "correct" note. So even if we seemingly blow the lead by ending on a truly off note, all it takes most times to get back on track is a half-note bend or slide.

The other great trick for those nasty clams is to not only accept them but revel in 'em by deliberately milking the dissonance. When it happens once, the listeners may think, yikes, the guy hit a clam, but repeat again on purpose and you may start to look like a diminished genius!

As JGH once said, you have to dive for a lot of clams to find the pearls.
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Postby milobender » Mon May 26, 2008 7:34 am

Just wanted to second Jon S. :cool: Sometimes my favorite ideas come from mistakes... The main thing to remember is "Don't Panic"!
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Postby b weird » Mon May 26, 2008 1:36 pm

I never knew there was so much to soloing. I don't have a guitar in hand so I can't throughly digest what's been posted, but thanks for taking the time and posting that.
Image
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Postby Mick » Tue May 27, 2008 7:09 am

spilly wrote:Image


there you go


I find it easier to play the D and G opening power chord as open strings 3 and 4, that way, you move your hand less.

I'm sure the above tip will rock TJ's world!
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Postby Tennessee Jedi » Tue May 27, 2008 8:36 am

Whoa whoa whoa - OPEN strings ?????
I'm gonna save that for the next lesson ....
:smile:
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Postby jjbankhead » Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:26 am

i vote this thread should be stickied so every new person who comes here can find some answer to the "how do i play a lead?" question.


btw great info on here so far.
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Postby trking8 » Wed Oct 01, 2008 10:55 am

wow, serious left brain logical stuff - - thanks.

one way to complement this approach is to just listen to,and learn different specific lines, riffs and build up your musical "vocabulary."

as far as "wrong" notes," those are the ones you really want to focus on. take your canned scales and linger on the flatted or sharp root.

for example, if you're in Am, it can be sweet and haunting to end the riff on Ab.

great stuff! thanks again,

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