How to play a solo ... think in sentences

I saw this and immediately thought how appropriate it is to the process of improvising or playing a lead guitar part.


@Richard_close2u Richard that’s very helpful, I often find myself in a very very long sentence :joy:

Can I query do you also pause at punctuation marks and do you generally play words with equal notes to syllables ?

I’ll print that out and see how it goes.

This is so important. The musicality of my improv sessions soared once I stopped trying to constantly speak. My phrases sounded much like the first paragraph. It was boring even though what I had in my head was more interesting. This is a great perspective to keep close to my heart. Thank you.

I think so. And the variance in pauses adds interest in the same way that varying the length of the “sentences” does. Sometimes in a conversation, a person might just respond “yes”. Sometimes, their more detailed responses will require a longer pause from you.

I’ve been thinking of this as a conversation, but between instruments. Instead of pausing to let somebody respond as in a conversation. Try pausing to allow the other instruments to “respond”. Then, see if you can play a phrase that works as a response to that. Think of yourself as part of a larger conversation and not just one person droning on.

Your talking about Call and Response. BB King is the master of it.
A solo is more like a speech, it can be short or long but if it has nothing to say and doesn’t hold the listeners attention it’s boring and long winded.

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Good find Richard.
The first sentence would be even more boring if there wasn’t much variation in the melody.

It may turn you into a rapper! :joy:

Very useful Richard, thank you for sharing. I spent ages on my recent recording on the short solo and I wish I’d seen this then! Albeit I feel I learned a lot in the process I went through anyway, this would have been most handy!!

This is quite a helpful way to think about putting together musical “phrasing”.

As an English teacher, I really appreciate the analogy with language (although I think it can get overdrawn at times). I think Justin uses it well in his teaching. I have never been much of a single notes line player or focused on “solos” but I am now in that stage of my guitar journey where these types of things are the logical next step. These types of analogies are really helpful. As @stitch mentioned, us noobies to single note playing tend to get verbose or long winded and boring quite quickly.

I am also finding it useful to stay away from the patterns thing (while still understanding that they’re based on the CAGED shapes) and focus on trying to play single octaves in a given key from a given root note on a given string as well as doing one finger solos on a single string or jsut a pair. Both these things (hopefully) will help me to stay “unboxed” in my approach to developing “sentences”. Thanks for the post Richard!!

I was cleaning out Youtube bookmarks the other day and can across this video that I though maybe helpful to someone and your post reminded me of it.
Hopefully this can help you with Phasing and how moving through the CAGED shape when playing solos


@Stitch thanks Rick, that’s perfect. I am at about the level where this kind of guided thing works well for me. I really want to get away from the patterns but I understand that they’re a really useful way to get started. . .I just want to be able to do what this video is demonstrating. . .move between parts of the shapes to get to other parts. . . thanks again. This will be very useful to me in the coming weeks. I like most of the tunes as well so that’s always a bonus!!

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