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Old 06-14-2019, 06:35 AM
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ctvolfan ctvolfan is online now
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Default Solo artists and guitar solos

Question for you solo singer song writers out there. I have yet to play live anywhere yet and plan on doing some open mics first to get my feet wet. I have only in recent years started writing and singing my own songs.

I do have some songs were I was able to incorporate a guitar solo into my songs as I sing and play alone. Most of these solos are basically a form of strumming some chords with some individual string picking within the chords.
However there are some songs (mostly slow songs) where I have a guitar solo that I can't really play during my solo act because it is a pure string picking solo that is not combined with chords. I hope that makes sense but think of it as a solo you would play while somebody else is playing rhythm guitar at the same time. It would be an odd break to go from some strumming in some songs into a solo that would tend to make the song lose its energy since my rhythm part would just dead stop in the middle of the song for my solo.

So my question is, when playing out as a solo artist (just you, your voice and your guitar) do you feel you have to have a guitar solo or do you play many of your songs without solos? Do you feel that every song has to have a solo or break of some sort?
I mean, if I were playing any of these songs with somebody else that is backing me up with some rhythm guitar then I would play these solos. It just seems that some solos work for some songs and some don't as far as playing and singing alone. Thanks for the input!
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:43 AM
Paddy1951 Paddy1951 is offline
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I don't know the specific kinds of music you play. Traditionally, folk tunes did not have breaks or solos.

When I do that kind of song I abide by that. No breaks, no solos.

That said, it is your show. Arrange tunes as you wish. Leave out verses, add verses. Create or drop bridges. Make the songs yours.
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Old 06-14-2019, 06:45 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Just strumming a guitar during the solo part (usually another verse chords) can be boring if you do it too often. You can: hum, whistle or sing 'la-la-la'; skip the solo 'verse'; use a looper to record the rhythm part during a regular verse so you can play the solo over it; play a combination lead/strum - play a bar of lead, then strum the chords, repeat.
The biggest issue I have with skipping the lead section is that it makes songs short, so look at repeating a verse, a chorus, etc.
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Old 06-14-2019, 07:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctvolfan View Post
Question for you solo singer song writers out there. I have yet to play live anywhere yet and plan on doing some open mics first to get my feet wet. I have only in recent years started writing and singing my own songs.

I do have some songs were I was able to incorporate a guitar solo into my songs as I sing and play alone. Most of these solos are basically a form of strumming some chords with some individual string picking within the chords.
That should work fine live.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctvolfan View Post
However there are some songs (mostly slow songs) where I have a guitar solo that I can't really play during my solo act because it is a pure string picking solo that is not combined with chords. I hope that makes sense but think of it as a solo you would play while somebody else is playing rhythm guitar at the same time. It would be an odd break to go from some strumming in some songs into a solo that would tend to make the song lose its energy since my rhythm part would just dead stop in the middle of the song for my solo.
Sure. So don't do that! Forget the solo altogether, just sing the whole thing with no breaks.

Even the first kind (strumming with embellishments) you could sing with no solo break. No one expects instrumental breaks in singer-songwriter songs - unless maybe you're known as a guitar wizard, and can play melody and accompaniment together.

The song is the thing, remember: the vocal melody and lyric. That's what most people listen to.
Unless the solo really contributes something equally interesting and original, skip it. Non-musicians aren't bothered by instrumental breaks, and musicians might just criticise your technique.
You may think that makes a song too short, but there's nothing wrong with short and sweet. Better that than extending a song unnecessarily by throwing a guitar break in the middle.
Only if you think your guitar playing is a lot better than your singing (and I mean a lot) should you think about inserting guitar solos as a matter of course.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paddy1951 View Post
I don't know the specific kinds of music you play. Traditionally, folk tunes did not have breaks or solos.

When I do that kind of song I abide by that. No breaks, no solos.

That said, it is your show. Arrange tunes as you wish. Leave out verses, add verses. Create or drop bridges. Make the songs yours.
I guess you would classify it as folky, americanaish, countryish.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBmusic View Post
Just strumming a guitar during the solo part (usually another verse chords) can be boring if you do it too often. You can: hum, whistle or sing 'la-la-la'; skip the solo 'verse'; use a looper to record the rhythm part during a regular verse so you can play the solo over it; play a combination lead/strum - play a bar of lead, then strum the chords, repeat.
The biggest issue I have with skipping the lead section is that it makes songs short, so look at repeating a verse, a chorus, etc.
I agree just stumming chords for a solo would sound horrible. That is why on some songs I can strum and pick notes in between the strumming to make it more like a solo.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:59 AM
Paddy1951 Paddy1951 is offline
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Originally Posted by ctvolfan View Post
I guess you would classify it as folky, americanaish, countryish.
Then definitely arrange your music as it works best for you.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonPR View Post
That should work fine live.
Sure. So don't do that! Forget the solo altogether, just sing the whole thing with no breaks.

Even the first kind (strumming with embellishments) you could sing with no solo break. No one expects instrumental breaks in singer-songwriter songs - unless maybe you're known as a guitar wizard, and can play melody and accompaniment together.

The song is the thing, remember: the vocal melody and lyric. That's what most people listen to.
Unless the solo really contributes something equally interesting and original, skip it. Non-musicians aren't bothered by instrumental breaks, and musicians might just criticise your technique.
You may think that makes a song too short, but there's nothing wrong with short and sweet. Better that than extending a song unnecessarily by throwing a guitar break in the middle.
Only if you think your guitar playing is a lot better than your singing (and I mean a lot) should you think about inserting guitar solos as a matter of course.
Ok great! It sounds like I had a valid question that has merit to it. That really helps knowing that it is normal to skip solos and short and sweet is ok.

And yes I think my playing is better than my singing but I can get by fine with my voice I guess. I sing well enough. I am a guitar player first and that is what I really want to showcase. But I know that vocals and lyrics are what people are mostly coming to see.

In the end I will just not worry about solos on songs that would sound awkward in the middle of them. I think the songs that I have those chord strumming along with alternating string picking solos will be fine.

I really appreciate all these comments as they were very helpful.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:00 AM
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Then definitely arrange your music as it works best for you.
Thanks! In the end it is all me and my creation so I can do whatever I want darnit!!!
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:11 AM
mr. beaumont mr. beaumont is offline
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It can absolutely be done, if you put in the work.

Those single note lines that sound so good still follow the chords. If you learn your chords all over the neck you'll be able to play those melodies and still keep the chords going.

Adjust what you do when you're singing too...if you're always bashing out 6 string chords while accompanying your voice, yeah, the bottom falls out when you play something more sparse without your voice. But if you tone it down a bit while you are singing, you can get away with a lot more if it comes time for an instrumental break.
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Old 06-14-2019, 09:55 AM
Silly Moustache Silly Moustache is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctvolfan View Post
Question for you solo singer song writers out there. I have yet to play live anywhere yet and plan on doing some open mics first to get my feet wet. I have only in recent years started writing and singing my own songs.

I do have some songs were I was able to incorporate a guitar solo into my songs as I sing and play alone. Most of these solos are basically a form of strumming some chords with some individual string picking within the chords.
However there are some songs (mostly slow songs) where I have a guitar solo that I can't really play during my solo act because it is a pure string picking solo that is not combined with chords. I hope that makes sense but think of it as a solo you would play while somebody else is playing rhythm guitar at the same time. It would be an odd break to go from some strumming in some songs into a solo that would tend to make the song lose its energy since my rhythm part would just dead stop in the middle of the song for my solo.

So my question is, when playing out as a solo artist (just you, your voice and your guitar) do you feel you have to have a guitar solo or do you play many of your songs without solos? Do you feel that every song has to have a solo or break of some sort?
I mean, if I were playing any of these songs with somebody else that is backing me up with some rhythm guitar then I would play these solos. It just seems that some solos work for some songs and some don't as far as playing and singing alone. Thanks for the input!
Hi,
the answer is no I don't "have" to add a solo, but I do feel that I need an instrumental into and outro of some kind, and once I've worked them out - I might as well used them to give me a little solo part after, say the 2nd verse ... or whatever.

Almost any song melody can be found within the chord sequence, so all I need to do is find it as I play the chord progression.

This is what this video is about :



and here is another example:

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Old 06-14-2019, 10:02 AM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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There are many ways to deal with this, and several have already been discussed. I agree with everything that's been said already (including the "most audiences are not all that enamored of instrumental solos by most players": these are all some of the ways to deal.

Still, speaking of arrangements/performance there are some songs where it helps to take a break from the words. For example, something happens that isn't described but only assumed, and the song's narrative takes thing up again afterward. Or something emotional or thought-provoking enough has been invoked and you want the song to hang around a bit to let that sink in.

At the height of the folk scare this is where the neck-rack harmonica solo would go. Most folkies weren't harmonica virtuosos, but it worked back then.

How good is your rhythm? If you can play your single note lines with same drive and propulsion they can carry on without the chords behind them. There's no law official or empirical that says that a whole chord must be heard at all times. If your "full arrangement" has some cross-rhythms or other timing interplay with the chordal guitar part and the melody guitar part, consider foot taps or stomps, or even one of those "porch board" style amplified stomp-percussion devices.

One doesn't have to be a virtuoso like Joe Pass to intersperse chord voicings, sometimes even partial chords inside a predominantly single note passage or the statement of a top line melody. Similarly, even for flat pickers, lower string drones and partial chords can ring out behind treble string parts. Altered tunings may give access to some lower harmony notes.
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:39 AM
reeve21 reeve21 is offline
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I like to do an instrumental verse on a lot of tunes, especially if they have more than 3 chords and I can re-voice them up the neck a bit. It also helps to vary the right hand action (I like to palm mute a bit to give it a little more punch.) I certainly wouldn't call it a solo, though! AGF'er Noledog's videos capture what the feel I am striving for.

Jerry Garcia did a lot of this, he would come out of one of his 27 verse single line solos by playing double stops and chord melody type stuff with some crazy strumming--I think it was in part to wake up the rest of the band to hit their vocal ques at the end of his solo. I do a poor imitation of what he would do at the end of the break on "Deal," and it seems to work for me
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:40 AM
RedJoker RedJoker is offline
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In addition to the harmonica suggestion above, a harmonica rack will also hold a kazoo. Then you just hum. At first, I thought it would only work as a silly effect but I've seen performers actually pull it off as a serious accompaniment.

Usually, though, I'll play my songs different live than I recorded them specifically for this issue. I've also taken up finger picking as that is an easier way for me play melody lines over the chords. In addition, when I play other peoples songs, I'll sometimes make up a fingerpicking 'solo' based on the chords that I would otherwise strum.

I don't know if that made much sense....
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Old 06-14-2019, 10:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silly Moustache View Post
Hi,
the answer is no I don't "have" to add a solo, but I do feel that I need an instrumental into and outro of some kind, and once I've worked them out - I might as well used them to give me a little solo part after, say the 2nd verse ... or whatever.

Almost any song melody can be found within the chord sequence, so all I need to do is find it as I play the chord progression.

This is what this video is about :



and here is another example:

Silly that is a really good point. Being a guitar player first, I tend to create fancy intros to my stuff. I don't like just going right into lyrics. I like to build to the actual beginning of the song. I just know that I try to keep them relatively short so I don't bore the listener that wants me to hurry up and get to the song. I always fear that I am putting way to much into my intros but your point is great that it is basically a solo that builds up to the meat of a song. I will go with that as my solo and possibly just extend songs with those at the beginning or the end. A buddy of mine that I work with calls all that stuff filler. To us musicians we call that music.
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