soloing during gigs

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soloing during gigs

Post by nak »

for those of you who have the pleasure of gigging, do many of you play 'premeditated' solos? being a relative newbie, i haven't had the chance to perform publicly yet, but i do get together with fellow musicians and jam with the goal of putting together a song list and playing gigs in the not-too-distant future. when i practice on my own, i try to construct solos for various tunes that we play together. it's fun, but during jam sessions i'm pretty much playing the same solos all the time. is this a bad approach? am i using this time unwiseley? i want to be more versatile. i want to be one of those guys who plays a solo and then goes, "whoa, where did that come from? it was , like, magic!" for those of you who have the skill to solo on the fly, what did you do to reach this level and how long did it take? what was your method of practice? thanks for your input.
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Post by simon »

Hello good quistion

I try to start a new place on the fretboard every
time i start a improvisation.
Then i trying to make the same run sound completly
diffrent by making the accent on different beats.

Hope it helps ,it has a way of taking you
places you havent been before.

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Post by lukejazz »

Good advice Simon!

It's been my experience (over 30 years playing guitar) that when you're playing jobs there are a lot of factors that affect how well you improvse.

Things like how long are the jobs and how often do you play them and what kind of jobs are they and who are you playing with all affect your performance.

For instance, if I were to be playing only once a month or so with some of my friends, I would probably practice a lot on my improvising and try to get several new ideas together to try on each date.

If I were to be playing, let's say, a restaurant/jazz gig for four hours every week with the same two people, it's generally hard to keep it fresh. Especially if it's on a Sunday morning and everybody has had a dance band gig the night before.

I think the tendency for most people is to lock into an approach for a song as soon as they find one that goes with the tune and that they like. I know I tend to include some elements over and over again for particular tunes if I think they're clever or work right.

That has a lot to do with were "genius" comes in. Don't feel bad if you aren't one. Just keep giving it your best and try to grow is the advice I give myself and my students. Make it the most fun you can have for yourself and don't worry too much. If you've got someone to play with and somewhere to play, you're doing something right.

my $.02

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Post by djangology »

i think that as a gypsy jazz player you don't write new songs but instead you write new licks for an already existing song. to a certain extent you need to remember and use the licks that you yourself invented in the past because to a certain extent they define your signature playing style.

i also think that if you repeat a solo pattern, that the next time you play it you can play the notes in a slightly different order, using the same pattern, in order to create something you haven't played before.
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Post by justjack »

nak wrote:when i practice on my own, i try to construct solos for various tunes that we play together. it's fun, but during jam sessions i'm pretty much playing the same solos all the time. is this a bad approach? am i using this time unwiseley? i want to be more versatile.
I don't think it's unwise so long as you keep working on improvising. When we play, I usually try to split the difference-I'll have some set things to play that I think of as signposts (these might be Django quotes, say) but will improvise lines to connect them. For me, it helps make the solo more of a piece.
Robin Nolan gives some good advice in his workshop as well; basically, he led us through four stages of a solo. First, ascending arpeggios starting on a root note; second, descending arpeggios, higher on the fretboard, starting on the fifth; then octave lines; then some chord stabs. Nothing death-defying, but it really sounded like a statement, building one thing on another, rather than just noodling about in the right key. Wes Montogmery did this a lot, too, for what it's worth.

Good luck,
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Post by Meshugy »

Hi All,

This of course is a huge topic. In my experience the biggest problem people have is actually playing MUSIC while they're soloing. Even if you know all the arps and scales for a song, its still going to sound mechanical if you just run up and down them. When you transcribe, you learn musical IDEAS. These are based on the arps and scales, but are much more then that. Know the arps and scales, but understand that they are only building blocks, the alphabet of this musical language. The words are the actual phrases that sound musical. These inevitably have all sorts of melodic and rhythmic twists and turns that make them so much more the just an exercise.

I think working out solos is a great idea. Do that for a few years and then you'll be able to do it on the spot. When you first start improvising you can't really improvise faster then half notes, maybe quarter. You need to spend years developing phrases to get eight notes ideas happening. These of course are memorized, but you can reorganize them and embellish them on a whim...and then you're really improvising!

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soloing during gigs

Post by nak »

thanks, everyone for the great advice. this really helps. i feared sounding like a broken record. michael, i will resign myself to the fact that this will take years to develop and keep in mind not to get too impatient. thanks, again.
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Post by Campus Five »

Here's my thoughts, bear in mind I've been playing professional gigs up to 8-10 times a month for 2 1/2 years. I feel like I remember when I would always end up the same things on every solo, but its been a while since then, except for those ruts we all fall into.

Beginning imporvisation is often about just creating litte "etudes" so you undestand how stuff works.

I find that there's nothing wrong with playing the same thing a lot, especially because there are certain ideas that can become like part of the song, or can become cool little routines. Eventually though you need to keep going.

A good excersise is to start playing what you know, but then try and go somewhere else with it. Play your usual first couple of bars, and then maybe try something else for the next couple bars. Say your playing "All of Me" - something I still remember the "etude" that I played for ever over it - You play your regular licks over the C and E7. Then, you usually go down the A7 chord - well, try going up it instead and seeing where that leaves you. You'll probably be in a different place for the next chord and you'll have to do something different there too.

If you just keep playing, you'll eventually get to that point where you are playing with your ears, not patterns or licks, etc. It took me a while, and some nights I just can't find it, but you'll get there. And when you do - its magic.
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Post by DKP »

First thing is to really 'know' the changes. What we do a lot in the group I play in is play the tunes in a lot of different keys in rehearsal; for us 'All of Me' is done a lot in G on the jobs, but in rehearsal, we put it in B, or B-flat, or F-sharp or something that makes everybody think a little. Sometimes you come up with new ideas, just because a key change has forced you to play certain chords or phrases differently. The single best thing you can do is play. Seems like once you have these progressions firmly in your mind, hearing the counterpoint melodies as a basis for improv. gets easier. Playing what you hear.....sometimes there are good nights, sometimes there are not so good nights. Last night on the job, some of my solos got interesting because I broke a string twice while doing that......sorta gives you a chance to experiment with parts of the fretboard you didn't think about 5 seconds before that!
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