Watch the Crafting a Solo online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Guitar Interactives

PRINCIPLE 41 - CRAFTING A SOLO

We can learn to craft our solo’s and melodic lines by considering how we pace our phrases, use dynamics and bring our solo’s to a crescendo. In other words, we can structure our solo’s to have a beginning, middle and end.

I like to start a solo with strong chord tone motifs that are very simple. I like sustained notes that have lots of space around them too. This introduces the ‘solo’ to the listener without bombarding them with a flurry of notes. I build the melodic phrases from there developing the ideas and gradually increasing the note values from whole notes, half notes, through quarters, eighths and sixteenths.

Listening to the underlying harmony and groove is going to be key to developing your solo’s. The music often dictates where the open phrases should sit and where the faster more fluid lines would best be served.

Another key element is working within the framework of measures that we are given to express our solo. Typical solo lengths are 4 or 8 bars. Pop solo’s may only be 1 or 2 bars in length if at all, so we have to become very good at expressing ourselves within a short period of time.

I’m not a huge fan or advocate of the never ending backing track that we often get to jam over. This is not a good way to learn how to structure and develop solo’s, in fact I think it detracts from the focus of making concise musical statements.

Now it’s your turn to explore the options on how to develop well crafted solo lines.