A couple of live tracks (with improv)

Hey there,

@LBro asked for some more mixer grabs from my last gig, so I thought would post two full songs that I think I have some interesting talking points :slight_smile:

Some context; these recordings comes from a very small gig we played a few weeks ago. It was a 50s birthday gig. No stage… we set up directly on the floor in the corner of a medium sized room and played a couple of sets. We had a rudimentary mic’ing of the drum kit, and the rest of the instruments had a line-out to the mixer. I then recorded a multi-track capture of the band from the mixer using Reaper. Mixing is a bit rough, and there is lots of room sound etc etc…

Anyway, the first track I want to share is called “Regndans” (Rain dance). It has Danish lyrics, but a pretty nice groove (I think). A bit latin sounding really, once it gets going. But what could be interesting around these forums is that it has a long improvised guitar solo at the end!
Playing in a covers band I normally have to learn and perform solos that already exists on record and typically is well known to the audience. So I have to make them sound basically the same. But this track does not have a solo on the original, and therefore I can allow myself to experiment and be creative. Every time I play something new.

My approach is this; I do start it pretty much the same every time. I’ve found what I think is a good opening phrase, and by starting there I can get the solo going with confidence… and then allow it to progress from there. One thing that I try to do here is focus a lot on playing up against the chords! This is one of the most important skills I’ve picked up over the last few years, and I’m still far from perfect at doing it! But compared to my earlier years, where I would basically just be playing some random licks from the pentatonic scale, now I feel I can be a lot more melodic and create much more interesting lines - both in terms of which notes I target, as well as the rhythm in the licks. I think this evenings solo went pretty well - BUT you can actually hear how I “search” a bit too much for the notes and rhythm in certain parts of the solo. That’s where I feel there is room for improvements - being able to freely improvise, yet still sound 100% confident and in control! But it’s a learning process, and this is a step in the right direction for me.

Anyway, here is “Regndans”:

The next song I want to share is more well known: Joe Cockers “You Can Leave Your Hat On”.
I think this track demonstrates something else that you very often come across, when playing in a covers bands. Sometimes you have to play a simple song, but try to make it sound great! The guitar parts in this song is pretty basic, and the same riff is played over and over again. This means (IMO) that the real challenge becomes playing it locked tightly into the groove of your band mates, plus playing with dynamics and feel. This evening it ended up sounding like this:

Hope this was interesting to some!

Cheers,
Kasper

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Hi Kasper,
Utmost thanks for posting these… I found the sound quality to be fantastic. I don’t think you needed to be that critical of the recordings.

Your guitar play is stellar as always. What really got me is your lead singer. Just so very good and a nice compliment to what you do as well. Someone in your band needs to break out and start writing original materials IMHO!

Speaking of the lead singer, I can’t quite nail if that is a female or male? I would have to hear more to figure it out, so do let us know.

Great tones on your guitar compliment your play for sure.

Good deal all the way around and I hope to hear more!
LB

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Hi LBro,

Thanks for the comments and nice words. Glad you liked the tracks!
The singer is female, but she has a very dark voice. By far the darkest of all female singers I’ve played with! It means we’re constantly playing songs a full tone, or even more, down from originals with female singers. And some songs with male singers we can play in original key. But she sounds great I think! :wink:

Really enjoyed that Kasper. Thanks for posting.

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Hey Kasper,

Really appreciate you sharing these mate. A real pleasure to listen to. Great sounding band you’ve got there.
Of course, I know the second song, which was great, but its that first song, “Regndans” that got me; and of course the solo/ improv at the end.

Loved that opening to the solo, and the guitar tone. It hit the ground running, as it needed to - otherwise the pace of the song would have overtaken it. Great choice I reckon.

As for the rest of the solo, well it was just a pleasure to listen to it, as has been all of your playing. I’m on about my 5th playthrough.
You mention searching a bit re the notes/ rhythm at times, but it didn’t really come out this end that way. Maybe around the time of those trills was one spot? I’m trying to have a guess here. Appreciate the insight though.

Being at the more foundational level of chord based soloing, I can certainly relate to the ‘searching’ though, which I can do plenty of :crazy_face:. Frustrating at times, but I know that’s when progress is being made, and it’s all part of it.

One general question if I may. When you come across a song/ progression etc for soloing/ improv over, how do you initially attack it to get some melodies and grooves going? I generally go straight to triads, so interested in how players at your level approach it.
Thanks again for the share. As usual, I learn again from your post.

Cheers, Shane

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Kasper, those were two fantastic tracks and I thought the mixing sounded good. Your solo at the end of Regndans sounded great. Tone was lush and I didn’t get the feeling that you were searching for any notes. I think as a guitarist you are always searching for what to you is perfection but you know the saying, if it sounds good, it is good.

Thanks for the share.

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Hi @sclay. Thanks for all those nice words! I had to give it a think before I can try to answer that question, because I’m honestly not 100% sure what my approach is, and why it has improved over the last couple of years. But thinking about it, I think it’s something like this;

First thing to note is that there is a big difference between how I’ve been practicing to move towards the ability to target chord tones and to how it comes out in an actual playing situation. When practicing there is a fair amount of thinking, theory and analysis going on… but when on the stage I revert back to relying on my ears and instinct. I’m simply not capable of actually thinking about the individual chords, they go by too fast. There are some monster players (ex. Tim Pierce) who always talks about what they are “thinking” when soloing and they can point out their exact intent and why exactly they target specific notes. I don’t think I’ll ever get there tbh!!

But although it’s an improvised solo (and I really resist the temptation to change that by “designing” something) I have of course also been practicing the track at home… I’m not going in totally blind. During that process I’ll be thinking about the chords, and what opportunities for melodies there might be.

In this case the chords go: Gm F Eb D

From this I’m thinking a few things;

  1. It’s obviously very much not a blues progression, so don’t fall into too many blues tropes.
  2. It’s a progression that basically moves a leading/bass note down. Perhaps some melodies should try to outline that idea.
  3. It’s NOT a diatonic Gm progression (which would have D minor, not major). The Eb to D movement is interesting, and is part of what makes it sound a bit “foreign/latin/modal”. I’m not 100% sure of the theory, but I believe that movement implies G harmonic minor in that particular bar.

During practice time (not just this solo, I’ve been doing this for quite a while and over many different progressions); To target chord tones, what that really means (to me) is generally hitting the root, the 5th or the 3rd (major or minor) of the chord being played. On top of this, HOW you move into those target notes is important. I like to use “approach” notes, one half step below the note I target. This can be practiced over blues progressions - using triads, arpeggios or blues licks that you modify the ending of to more elegantly “land” on a really fitting note. Chromaticism is also cool and useful. When practicing - this will, for a long time (!), sound pretty stiff, boring and trivial. Playing the same moves over and over again etc. BUT I think it’ll eventually train your ear to really recognize how the various target notes (intervals!) sounds over a chord.

Then, when actually playing, I no longer think about the details. But I’m now at least listening to the chords going on below the solo (before, to be honest, all concentration and focus would go towards the solo and executing those minor pentatonic licks). Now I can allow my creative mind to go loose - combining A LOT of ear training with A LOT of target note training… I can suddenly execute certain melodies that I hear in my head. And my ear AND mind will now lead me towards nice sounding target notes, that fits the underlying chords.

And finally - you can only play interesting things if you can think of them (humming them, singing inside your head). The boring stuff comes when you allow yourself to go on auto pilot and simply execute licks and patterns your fingers know. This, for me, was really the biggest thing of all to realize… so spend a lot of time listening to the song and humming ideas. Don’t even need a guitar for this.

Oh, and one FINAL thing/component to making it sound interesting; mix melodies with licks. I like to move between melodic phrases and bluesy licks (Gilmour is an example of a player who does this to great effect). And remember to include rhythmic ideas as well as melodic lines. Rhythm is very important.

Sorry for the wall of text, but it was a complicated question :wink:

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Mate, that reply is music to my ears. :sunglasses:
Thanks for taking the time to go into some details. It is very much appreciated.

What you have explained is pretty much what I’m doing/attempting to do, so your response gives me some confidence that I’m on a solid path. Of course, I’m still at a relatively foundational ‘soloing’ stage and, several years behind your level, and competency - but, I’m catching up :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Glad guys like you are around to freely give of their time to share these important insights

Thanks again Kasper
Cheers, Shane

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Kasper,
Those were some real fun songs to listen to.
Thanks for putting a early morning smile on me.

You and your band are very accomplished musicians for sure.

Loved your solo at the end of Regndans.
Agreed, it does have a Latin feel to that song. Loved it!

Your recording of this live was very well done also. If it weren’t for the audience at the end, I don’t think I’d have known it was a live recording. Excellent sound quality.

Share some more songs please! Those two were very enjoyable to listen to.