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Post new topic Soloing by Memory or Improvised
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Author Topic:  Soloing by Memory or Improvised
Jim Saunders


From:
Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
Post Posted 21 Nov 2017 7:26 am     Reply with quote

When you play, is it by a memorized pattern, solo, or do you play by improvisation. For instance, when you play a particular song, do you do it the same way each time you play it? Also on fills, runs, and intros? Are they about the same each time? How often are you stumped on a new tune?
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Richard Sinkler


From:
Oakdale, California
Post Posted 21 Nov 2017 8:44 am     Reply with quote

Depending on the song, I tend to play the song pretty much like the record, especially any signature licks. Others lend themselves to improv, but many of those I play pretty much the same every time. That's a discipline I learned on the road. We had to play the songs the same way every gig. But I am pretty good at being able to sit down and play songs I have never played, or sometimes never heard before. I was in a band that hosted a "jam session" (more like an open mic) where someone was able to come up and sing or play a couple songs. We had to play different styles from classic country to oldies to rock. Some would bring in originals and just run over them during one of our breaks. Then we would play it in the next set while it was still in our "aging" minds. Great learning experience.
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Bill L. Wilson


From:
Oklahoma, USA
Post Posted 22 Nov 2017 12:22 am     Everything’s Different. Reply with quote

I hardly ever play anything the same way twice. Sometimes you feel like a fill, sometimes you don’t. Always try to stay out of the way of the vocals, or other lead instruments, and when it’s time to solo, gun it. Having been one who’s never been able to copy what’s on a record, I’ve made it up for over “60” yrs., and I’m still having fun.
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Tom Campbell


From:
Houston, Texas, USA
Post Posted 22 Nov 2017 6:50 am     Reply with quote

I learn the signature licks that are unique to the song. If the signature licks a repeated often I will change the rhythm or add a passing tone for variety.

Off the cuff soloing I will play around with the pick grip inversions...fairly "clunker" safe.
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 10:11 am     Depends... Reply with quote

Firstly, a solo in a modern piece of music is a rarity indeed. You're still playing a part within the framework of what the rhythm section is doing, so it should be approached as an 'interlude' where the instrumentalists as a whole have the responsibility to carry the song and its melody. So 'solo' really means 'no vocals'...

If you're referring to a true 'solo' where everyone except you is silent, I apologize. Picky, yes, but important in that it's really no different than the rest of the song in most ways.

Regardless of your prominence in this 'solo' passage, you are a piece in a jigsaw puzzle and you have to make sure you fit. Depending on the looseness of the band, that may mean note-for note or chord-for-chord. You can always be tighter but never looser.

Being a beginner at PSG, I sit down and plan out what I am going to do - rhythm or lead. I don't tend to deviate much from this plan, but if I have had time I've added some variations to the plan itself. It's very 'paint by numbers' but it gets the job done.

Once I gain more proficiency, I'll be able to listen to the other musicians more and allow myself to deviate from the plan within their deviation and my skill level - maybe even play a lead cohesively.

[/b]
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Landon Johnson


From:
Washington, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 10:11 am     Depends... Reply with quote

Firstly, a solo in a modern piece of music is a rarity indeed. You're still playing a part within the framework of what the rhythm section is doing, so it should be approached as an 'interlude' where the instrumentalists as a whole have the responsibility to carry the song and its melody. So 'solo' really means 'no vocals'...

If you're referring to a true 'solo' where everyone except you is silent, I apologize. Picky, yes, but important in that it's really no different than the rest of the song in most ways.

Regardless of your prominence in this 'solo' passage, you are a piece in a jigsaw puzzle and you have to make sure you fit. Depending on the looseness of the band, that may mean note-for note or chord-for-chord. You can always be tighter but never looser.

Being a beginner at PSG, I sit down and plan out what I am going to do - rhythm or lead. I don't tend to deviate much from this plan, but if I have had time I've added some variations to the plan itself. It's very 'paint by numbers' but it gets the job done.

Once I gain more proficiency, I'll be able to listen to the other musicians more and allow myself to deviate from the plan within their deviation and my skill level - maybe even play a lead cohesively.

[/b]
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Paul King


From:
Gainesville, Texas, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 11:42 am     Reply with quote

In the words of fellow steel player Dennis Bailey, "This did not come out like it did in the practice room". I can practice for a slot at a steel show or any event and it never comes out like I practiced it. I am going to forget something. I play by memory but improvise as well. I bet there will be some interesting comments on this topic.
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Jack Hargraves


From:
Missouri, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 12:28 pm     Reply with quote

Like Tom, I learn the signature licks, then while playing, I usually improvise the phrasing. I enjoy trying new licks here and there.
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Ken Campbell


From:
Ferndale, Montana
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 12:47 pm     Reply with quote

Might have been Jeff Newman, but someone once said, "play the melody ". I will usually play some kind of interpretation of the melody. Sometimes I lose my mind and go crazy.
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Ray Minich


From:
Bradford, Pa. Frozen Tundra
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 2:22 pm     Reply with quote

As Jack Sparrow frequently said, the rules aren't hard and fast, they are more like "guidelines". Same for me and note for note solos....
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Jim Sliff


From:
Lawndale California, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 7:09 pm     Reply with quote

I rarely play anything note-for note. I use the melody as a framework and mostly play "inside it" if there's one solo or chorus - go "outside" on a second.

Even when improvising players have specific licks they'll use in certain situations. They're part of a player's style.
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Ricky Davis


From:
Buda, Texas USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 8:17 pm     Reply with quote

Like my great friend and mentor, Lloyd Green told me once: "Ricky that sounds great; but it's already been played, I want to hear what YOU sound like with what YOU hear".
I will never forget those words.
To have a song have a feeling for the time you play it...it will NEVER feel the same; be projected the same or sound the same every single time you play....if you try to play the exact thing every time; but the feeling in the song as the other players are playing it.....YOU will sounds stale and will never grow to feeling a song and projecting a feeling from your instrument.
HEAR IT; FEEL IT; PLAY IT....it's just that simple.
Ricky
my Teachers: Tom Brumley; Lloyd Green and all the singer/songwriters I've played with that cared about their music and turned to me and asked me to play the right feeling of the song.
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Paul Sutherland


From:
Placerville, California
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 8:28 pm     Reply with quote

It's all just memorized patterns. The more patterns you know, the more interesting will be your playing. You should endlessly play with the patterns to see what comes out.
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Bobby Hearn


From:
Balsora, Texas, USA
Post Posted 23 Nov 2017 9:47 pm     Reply with quote

What Ricky said. When I first started playing, I learned every song note for note and that was extremely tedious and time consuming, but after playing with several bands over the years that didn’t have a set list, thank God, I got an education and found true enjoyment in playing and my ears became so much better. I still try to play signature stuff but get to add some originality to the song. I rarely play the same solo twice.
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Bobby Nelson


From:
North Carolina, USA
Post Posted 24 Nov 2017 12:01 am     Reply with quote

Quote:
It's all just memorized patterns. The more patterns you know, the more interesting will be your playing. You should endlessly play with the patterns to see what comes out.


This is, to me, the most helpful thing here Paul. It's certainly been the way I've approached playing solos - and hope to approach Pedal Steel.

I don't know if it's right to say it here as it was not on steel but, I approached soloing as a process of trial and error, until I got something that sounded more like music than a guy noodling. I would play something different every night and keep the good things, throw out the junk, until it was just about right, and then not deviate too much from what I felt was a complete solo that fit the song - this could take months.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post Posted 24 Nov 2017 4:54 am     Reply with quote

not by memory, by patterns and position playing which aims towards musical phrasing . Of course many things are familiar phrases which just come out, not planned. It just happens.

I wouldn't call them memorized patterns but more of knowing where the music is and how to get it out. RE: What do the levers do in relationship to where you are and where do you want to go. Understanding the instrument I guess.
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Marc Friedland


From:
Fort Collins, CO
Post Posted 28 Nov 2017 8:40 am     Reply with quote

I certainly have fun, totally improvising on a song with a "new" group. But in bands I play regularly with, I typically work up 2 different psg solos for each song that I solo in. And at the last second, determine which one I'll play, or possibly a combination of the two. Fills, I treat similarly, but leave more room for improv. Intros, and signature themes, I keep consistent, and close enough to the original, to immediately associate & identify the song. I attempt to play the same feel & attitude as the steeler on the original (popular) recording, and in the same spots throughout the song. But I like creating, and expressing myself too, so it will sometimes be "close" but not exact. Often, the audience will think it's exact, but seasoned steelers will know the truth! For reasons I stated above, I am not a good candidate for being a member of a "tribute" band.
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Mike Neer


From:
NJ
Post Posted 28 Nov 2017 11:29 am     Reply with quote

I try to know the tune well before I start improvising on it. This way I have a lot of options. When I am playing at my best, my mind is orchestrating the music for me and I am simply trying to recreate it on the instrument in real time. Under different circumstances, it can be hard to focus internally and hear interesting ideas. When I am not hearing it, I keep things short and sweet.

I also learn the melody and try to come up with strategies and choices for jazzing things up a bit. I’m not saying I want to turn things into jazz, but I want to be unpredictable and at times jarring, but intentionally. I’m not a big believer in luck.
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