Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Musical Theory Abound!!!
 #43767  by Jon S.
 Wed May 14, 2008 6:54 am
This is not advice he gave to me only - he shared it with everyone who read the same article (which I believe was in Guitar Player mag though it could have been elsewhere). Still, I feel like he meant it personally for me. :)

What Jerry said, essentially, was that, in his estimation, there are really only two basic kinds of solos. One works off of the song's melody line. The other leaves it.

So simple, yet profound and practical for jam-oriented lead players. By starting off with a melody-based lead, departing afterwards into the ether, and returning at the end, it's like using a pair of bookmarks to demarcate and ground your eclectic collection!.

To be honest, I can be lazy. I rarely care to work out very many leads note-for-note (disclaimer: exceptions: George, John, and Paul :) ).

But what I do enjoy doing, when first learning new songs or preparing to play them in an ensemble setting for the first time, is sitting down and learning single-note, tight versions of the melody lines to prepare for later soloing.

It really is a useful exercise. If you haven't ever tried it, consider giving it a spin.

Thanks again, Jer. :D

 #43770  by bucketorain
 Wed May 14, 2008 7:56 am
totally agree. soloing the melody gives the best picture of the song. Jerry was a master of hitting notes that sounded like someone was singing the verses or chorus.

 #43828  by milobender
 Wed May 14, 2008 3:30 pm
Total agreement here too :smile: and, if you are in a situation where you have to stick to a short, non-jam, instrumental, when you know the melody, you can put a nice tight and tasty lead in there and right back to the lyrics...

 #43886  by fatcat
 Fri May 16, 2008 12:47 am
yea this is very useful, even for short little fills in between lyrics or right after a verse when you need a little pick me up in the song here or there. very nice idea

 #43888  by CaptainTrips
 Fri May 16, 2008 6:20 am
To me the best Jerry advice on soloing is "When I start off playing a solo, I begin with the melody, and then Im either playing with it or against it"

 #43889  by Jon S.
 Fri May 16, 2008 6:35 am
That's so close to my paraphrased opening quote I'm thinking now it may well be what I remembered reading in the first place. Tonight I'll re-read the Guitar Player edition with the Garcia interview and see if it's there.

 #43910  by Jon S.
 Fri May 16, 2008 4:53 pm
CaptainTrips wrote:To me the best Jerry advice on soloing is "When I start off playing a solo, I begin with the melody, and then Im either playing with it or against it"
You win again, Captain! Excellent memory. Here's the exact quote I was thinking of - you nailed it:

Q. How do you approach building solos?

A. I start by learning a tune's literal melody - if there is one - in any position. Then I construct solos as if the melody was happening, and I'm either playing with it or against it. ...

GP, Dec. 2005, pg. 71

 #44505  by Larree
 Sat May 31, 2008 7:11 am
Jerry's guitar solos were more like wind solos, or even scat singing. They had breath. He would "sing" the melody on the first section, and then he would embellish it, and finally bring it either to a soaring peak or in for a smooth and gentle landing. He was fucking John Coltrane on guitar. Monsterous.