It is challenging to craft interesting and varied blues guitar solos. In fact in my experience this challenge represents one of the first major hurdles that blues guitarists face when they first start improvising.
They learn scales, various licks and phrases, and maybe some solos. But they then hit a wall when they actually try to improvise using these scales and licks. This can be quite demotivating, and a lot of players get stuck in this phase. They remain able to play individual licks, yet they can’t string them together into a coherent structure.
This is the challenge that I will address throughout this course. Here I will be looking at 5 different techniques and concepts that you can use to craft more interesting and varied guitar solos.
This will help to give you a framework you can use to structure your improvisations. You will be able to get more mileage from your musical ideas, and will have key areas that you can focus on to create effective blues guitar solos.
Music & Language
Before we dive into each of these techniques in more depth, I first want to introduce an analogy that I will use a lot during this course. And that is the analogy that exists between music and language.
This analogy is not new. And as noted in the video – if you have read other material on this subject – you may well have encountered this analogy before. Yet when we are thinking about crafting interesting solos, it is useful to return to this idea and really stretch it to its limit. In other words, we can view:
- Individual notes as words
- Licks and phrases as sentences
- A guitar solo as a short story composed of the previous two elements
This analogy is useful because it quickly focuses your mind on the different elements contained within your guitar solo. Not only this, but it allows us to quickly see why it is difficult to craft an interesting solo.
A person that has a wide vocabulary and the ability to form sentences does not necessarily have the ability to write or tell an engaging story. And the same is true with your guitar.
Licks and phrases – those individual elements that actually make up a guitar solo – are not enough by themselves to create interesting guitar solos. You have to work on how to bring them together and turn them into something greater than the sum of their parts.
To do this, it is important to focus on the final point listed above. Don’t just think about the individual words and sentences of your playing. Instead, start thinking about your playing more broadly.
How do your licks and phrases fit together? What kind of feeling do they convey? And how can you maximise the impact of your musical vocabulary?
I will address each of these points in the lessons in this course. For now though and to get you thinking in this way, I would like you to recall the last time you were really captivated by a story. This can be a written story, though I think it is probably easier to remember a story told in the spoken word.
It doesn’t matter whether the story you choose made you laugh, cry, feel angry or happy – it just needs to be memorable and impactful.
Regardless of the context and content of their stories, talented speakers implement tactics and linguistic ploys that make their stories more impactful. And we can implement the exact same elements in our guitar playing.
So with that in mind, let’s get into it. Head over to the next video, where we’ll start to look at these concepts and ideas in much greater depth. See you over there!