Watch the Extended Performance online guitar lesson by John Stowell from Modern Chord Melody
For the extended performance, I'm using the embellished melody with the added rhythmic fills. When I begin soloing, I'm not adhering to the meter changes in the melody (6/4 and 4/4), but rather outlining the harmony and playing with a quarter note pulse and no fixed meter. This is relatively easy to accomplish (with some practice) when playing solo, but takes some time to develop in a group context. I make note of this approach to playing time in several of the other video banks, as I play with this pulse-oriented concept on a number of my tunes contained in the course.
I try to think about the appropriate length of an improvisation as I solo, and I seem to clock in pretty consistently at four to five minutes per tune when I'm playing alone. Obviously things change when performing in a group. I try to err on the side of caution, and would rather play a solo that feels a bit short than one that meanders on for too long.
I remind myself frequently of the importance of dynamics, even when playing solo. Effective use of dynamics draws the audience into the music and creates important contrast. Sometimes a portion of a melody will suggest a shift in the level of intensity, and dynamics can be built into the arrangement of a tune. In a group setting, I also encourage the drummer to take an active role in shaping and moving the dynamic range of the band.