Solo first?

Gabriel 1313

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I have a question. When composing, has anyone written the solo first. Coming from a classical background, this seems to apply. Cord progressions are easy enough, and I have always thought the solo was the lyrical component. If you have tried this, what was your experience and method?
 

Hollowway

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I've had zero luck with solo first, or vocals first. UNLESS, the solo has a phrase in it which is related to the melody. I'm more of a get-a-good-riff player, and then build around that. Do you have an example of what you mean about classical?
 

Winspear

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Yes, often I'll get a solo in my head and write from that. Typically strong melodies and solos outline chord tones as accents, punctuated by passing tones (in the form of ascending lines, etc). It is quite possible to have a strong melodic solo by itself that implies a chord progression, or from which you can build multiple chord progression options (as jazz players do when they reharmonize a melody - that would be a good topic for you to look into - They take a melody, look at what the important notes in the bar are, and choose a chord for that bar that fits)
 
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Gabriel 1313

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I've had zero luck with solo first, or vocals first. UNLESS, the solo has a phrase in it which is related to the melody. I'm more of a get-a-good-riff player, and then build around that. Do you have an example of what you mean about classical?
Yes.
Yes, often I'll get a solo in my head and write from that. Typically strong melodies and solos outline chord tones as accents, punctuated by passing tones (in the form of ascending lines, etc). It is quite possible to have a strong melodic solo by itself that implies a chord progression, or from which you can build multiple chord progression options (as jazz players do when they reharmonize a melody - that would be a good topic for you to look into - They take a melody, look at what the important notes in the bar are, and choose a chord for that bar that fits)
That's exactly what I'm trying to accomplish. I have a lead solo in Am. I was thinking of using Am chord progression starting at the second fret and working my way to somewhere around the 7th. A Dm thrown in the mix. I wrote the lead in Dorian, melodic minor, with some added notes that work. To my ears, and I am quite critical on the line of perfectionist,it works, what do you think????
 

Dayn

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If you come up with a melody first, you can harmonise it in any way you want. I suppose the difficulty is if you make the solo first, what about the rest of the song? Usually a solo is built out of melodic (and other) motifs already established in the song. So it's the other way around, taking segments of the solo and fleshing those parts out so the solo fits.

In one of my songs, the solo builds heavily on simple melodic motifs earlier in the song, so it's really just applying it in reverse.
 

Dr. Caligari

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Hm well what does "first" mean? I typically have some sort of reason why I'm writing a solo. Like, a song calls for it. And then I probably know where in the song the solo goes and what kind of solo I'm writing. And then there's usually some riff or chord progression there. But that can change when I'm writing the solo. It's all pretty flexible for me. Sometimes I'll just expand things and go into a totally new section because that's where things went and it sounded good.

I think if I was to write a solo in a complete vaccuum I'd struggle. Everything depends on everything else so it would be hard to know where to go.
 

bostjan

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Sure, it can be done. I'd say that it's definitely not the typical way to write a song, but it definitely happens that way on occasion.

The easy part of it is that a strong melody will almost always imply some sort of harmonic structure.
 

RevDrucifer

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Half the songs I write don’t even have solos in them and I generally need the song about half-way finished before I decide if I’m going to put one in it, so that’s definitely a nope from me.

That said, I often come up with vocal melodies when writing solos, so if I don’t have the vocals for something written yet and I’m at a loss, I’ll just work on the solo and something usually pops up.
 


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