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New tune, trying to actually write a solo for a change

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  • New tune, trying to actually write a solo for a change

    tl;dr - I've always just improvised solos when I record. In some ways that's not bad because I do think I'm a better player when improvising than playing something pre-arranged - my tough on the guitar seems more natural when I'm just adding little accents, and not thinking about it so much - but in others, I'm not going to just sit down and rip off a Satriani-quality solo by chance. So, one of my goals for this album was to try to actually write stuff, and learn it before going to record.



    EDIT - new outro, this is JUST the outro, not the full song, and with VSTs rather than real amps: https://drewpeterson7.files.wordpres...ea-outro-1.mp3

    This is a VERY rough mix, and an even rougher drum sequencing job. There's a couple basic beats, and a few first-pass fills, and that's about it. The guitar performance i comped together while writing, starting by improvising until I got the basis of a solo I thought could be cool, and then coming back and refining the various runs and licks and whatnot until I had something that was both (I thought) kind of cool and interesting, and also repeatable - the legato run at the end of the main solo, for example, is going to take some practice to pull off consistently as it's fucking fast (I think 16th triplets at 140bpm) and in theory the way it lays on the fretboard it's something I should be able to pick, if I can get it tight enough, but as it stands now I could go pick up a guitar and pull off a credible version of this solo now, and if it wasn't exactly note for note, it'd be awfully close, which is a first for me. One of the things that occured to me after my last album is it would probably be extremely hard to play live, in part because everything was improvised, and in part because I approached it as a recording project, with no thought at all to how I'd go about juggling the various parts if I had to play them live. So that's kind of an objective this time around, to write and record an album that I could perform with just a bassist and drummer.

    The lead guitar is reamped through my Mark V, though I've got some modest background ground hum thing going on when I run an out from my Apogee into the Mark and I feel like it's less distinct than when I plug directly in, so I don't think reamping is going to go much past writing and demoing for me (it fucking rules for that, though, there was a solid week where I'd come back in the morning, listen to the melody sections, and decide that one particular note needed to change, or I needed to punch in a resolution somewhere that wasn't in the original demo, etc etc etc. It's a very liberating way to write, though not a way I think I would ever want to record a final take for some of the same reasons that I like it when I'm hashing out ideas.)

    Theres a couple little details in here I'm actually kind of proud of that I'll be curious if anyone picks up on. The whole arrangement is, well, very influenced by Andy Timmons.

    Anyway, the mix is pretty crude, and I'm sure I can get better tones on tape when I record this for real (if nothing else, the strings on my Suhr were pretty dead by the end of this, and the strings on my bass are YEARS old), but I'd love some feedback on what's working and what's not for the arrangement, the writing, the solo, whatever. Just imaginer it with slightly more interesting drums, since I've put next to no work into them.

  • #2
    Really cool stuff, mate. I like it. Especially the chorus.

    The main solo section sounds inspired by Summer Song's solo section. There's even a couple of licks near the start of it that sound like they could be doffs of the cap to it. Is that my imagination?

    ​​​​​​Repeating the chorus for a third time without much (or any?) change is a little less interesting than I'd maybe hope for. It's a great chorus, but anything can get a little less interesting on a third repeat. I reckon it's ripe for a real shredding solo over the third repeat.

    I'm not really into tones and production and all that stuff. The drums could use a real player or better programming, and probably some overall mixing stuff I wouldn't know anything about would help, too. But the lead guitar sounded great to me. No need to improve it
    Last edited by Lee; 03-26-2021, 01:03 PM.


    • #3
      Sounds good! Really digging the power trio vibe, which as you said really wears the Timmons influence.

      You did well with going for the Gilmour approach of solo writing (comping improv parts), and making it sound natural and still sounding improvised.

      Agreed that having a real drummer or a more detailed programming can really benefit the track, not just from a production but playing. When you let a drummer play your parts but give room to run loose, you could feed off it and play along and come up with something you'd never think of when playing to a basic track.

      Also agreed that last chorus would benefit for cutting loose, or at least really go to town with the melody more. The toughest thing about being an instrumental power trio is that you really have to work to cover a lot of sonic space, jumping from chords and melodies seamlessly, and by the climax it'd be worth exploring on how you can up the ante so to speak.

      Great job and the demo really shows promise.


      • #4
        I'll see what I can do with that last chorus - maybe just end it with one pass through, rather than two? Idunno. It's tough, because it's a very "riff"-y chorus - 5th fret A, open E and B, then A to B on the low E, another open E and B, and various melodic lines on the G string. All those open notes don't really lend themselves to more shred-y stuff, but... I;ll think a bit, maybe I can come up with something that works there. The chorus was actually where this one started off, just something I came up with while messing around on my Strat with some gain in the neck/middle position, and it took a while to figure out how to make a song around it (and, while the time between the idea, which is several years old now, and the "song" was much longer, it took a LOT more trial and error to come up with an interesting solo section, which happened over a couple of days but involved a lot of punching in different rhtyhm guitars and bass guitars until I had something that sounded natural to me, but wasn't just soloing over the verse).

        Yeah, Bloody_Inferno that was one of the things that working with DI tracks rather than amped up sounds was sort of fun from a writing standpoint, I could do a couple takes of a solo, get something that had potential, and then come back at it a couple times over a few days and say, "ok, this section here has some real potential, but let's clean it up a bit and see what i can do with it," and just do a whole bunch of takes trying different variations of what I'd played, taking happy accidents as they come, and let it evolve into something that I can pull off pretty repeatedly that sounds - to me - good, and then move on to the next section where I liked the idea but it didnt' seem quite fully formed. It was kind of fun.

        Lee - I don't think there was any intentional borrowing of licks from Summer song in there, but the big Dorian/blues vibe is definitely strongly inspired by that tune, and it's a solo I've TRIED to learn in the past (got pretty close to the first main break too, I should give it another go) so there's a definite possibility some of that crept in. There's a lot more chromaticism in there than what I'd normally do - that's an example of one of those happy accidents, some of those chromatic runs on the higher notes of the first fast bit were from a take where I was still kind of winging it but had an idea of how I wangted the run to start, and happened to drop that in a way that actually sounded cool to me so it was just a matter of figuring out how to get to the notes I wanted on the right beat. There's still a slight hesitation in there somewhere but I think when I really get this dialed in it should sound cool.

        I'd LOVE to work with a real drummer, but I have a feeling that's not in the cards on this project. These are extremely crude drums though so I think there's a lot of opportunity to let them breathe a bit more than they do - at this tempo, this is going to be a situation where I think I'm going to need to get the fills and everything programmed in, and then turn off snap to grid and just start moving stuff around a little by hand so it does't sound so rigid.

        At some point in the next week or two, I'll update this with a better drum "performance," I think, but I just wanted to get the core arrangement out there.

        Guitar tone sounds a little... "small" on the opening chords, might be a situation where doubling the guitar there with a L/R rhythm pair that drops out when the lead comes in would help, but while I haven't ruled out having rhythm guitars in there for sure (outside of the solo section, where it felt necessary to set the tonality for the solo), I kind of like the idea of just keeping it more of a trio arrangement.


        • #5
          Definitely change up the drums at the very end, as Lee said. It's repetitive and the same-velocity snare over and over again from 3:55-4:23 is almost 30 seconds of the exact same thing. If you add some harmony guitars there and change up the drumming so it builds some tension to a crescendo it'll be a lot easier on the ears. Right now it's just SNARE SNARE SNARE SNARE SNARE for half a minute and kinda hard to listen to.

          I dig it otherwise, good start!


          • #6
            I need to just stop sharing shit here until I've chipped away at the drums for a week or two, rather than just one quick night. I TOLD you all the drums suck, lol.


            • #7
              Different drums won't change the fact that there are 30 seconds of the same exact 4-bar guitar part repeating over and over.

              Goddamn lazy millennials!


              • #8
                As you and others mentioned above, I really dig the way this was clearly written for single guitar in mind - really awesome. Chorus effen rips but yeah started to lose my attention by the end.

                Great job, really like your lead sound!


                • #9
                  You Drew once asked me to do a slowed down version of the Summer Song solo, which I did. Are you seriously telling me that you haven't been through that, note by lovingly transcribed note? I think I need to sit down.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lee
                    You Drew once asked me to do a slowed down version of the Summer Song solo, which I did. Are you seriously telling me that you haven't been through that, note by lovingly transcribed note? I think I need to sit down.

                    I did, you know, and I got pretty close to being able to pull that off, I just only got up to about 90% tempo. I should go back and check out your video again, I remember pulling it up in Reaper 6 months back or so and slowing it down there and sitting down with the transcriptions and kind of working out what I was hearing (there's a few parts in the tab, in particular I'm thinking the very end of the pedal point lick along the G string in the first solo, where what's notated is technically right but it also sounds like what's notated is an incidental note or two along the way of what happened when Satch was trying to play it without those incidentals, so rather than playing it as tabbed, playing it as "written" and expecting those notes would prpbably occur anyway made way more sense).

                    Anyway - sounds like I need to do something else in that last chorus, lol. Thanks everyone! \m/


                    • #11
                      I can sort of hear the summer song inspiration. Particularly on how you structured your solo: where you hold notes, do runs, double stops etc. Namely because i learned it on music class in high school.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bloody_Inferno
                        I can sort of hear the summer song inspiration. Particularly on how you structured your solo: where you hold notes, do runs, double stops etc. Namely because i learned it on music class in high school.

                        It was totally unconscious, and probably wouldn't be obvious without the strong Dorian/blues flavor too, but a lot of that is because it just makes sense - pitches are gradually ascending throughout the first half of the solo, start slow then gradually speed up, some bluesy bends here and there, then finish with a flourish of huge bends and blues licks. I suspect a lot of solos fit that basic framework, and in particular starting with something a little more thematic and not just shredding merrily away is something I'm trying hard to do, because it's so easy to just shred up a storm, and no one really wants to listen to that for 16 bars.


                        • #13
                          This kicks ass! I really like it, and your solo is great. I wouldn't change anything about the solo, including the legato feel to much of it.

                          Leaving aside the drums, which aren't your final idea, I would say that the verses would kick more if you have the bass do more than play the root.

                          It doesn't have to be Stanley Clarke, but even just swinging up to the dominant here and there would do wonders for giving some variety behind what is a very nice melody. The bass typically needs to be busier and more aggressive in a power trio. I know that Satriani often lets the bass plug away on the root, but I don't think that's something to emulate in a trio.

                          I'll also second the notion that the chorus needs a little more development. I wouldn't cut down the number of repeats or change the initial part, just add some variation to the last repeat--it could be a different chord voicing, having the bass move a bit, or adding a short unison guitar/bass riff to heavy things up slightly. Don't overdo my suggestion--the simplicity is what makes it good and memorable. Just a little something.


                          • #14
                            Yeah, at a minimum, you guys have convinced me I need to change up the final chorus. And I think more variation in the drum parts between the first and second times on the second chorus (the first one I play it twice, not once) could go a long way - getting the symbols out of the first and doing a busier/more accented snare part is sort of what I have in mind, I guess.

                            I'm not a great bassist, and I definitely want to keep a driving rock feel, but there's a total absence of bass fills here and I could probably add some more interest pretty easily there too. I just need to practice a bit more.


                            • #15
                              Ok, I changed up the outro for the second pass through the chorus. How's this? Performance isn't perfect and the part could continue to get tweaked over the next few days, but I think this is a cooler way to end.


                              This is just the LePou Lecto, btw, too lazy to reamp it.

                              EDIT - last run sounds too much like a exercise, still evolving, but it's looking like an ascending run sliding into more or less the root on the low E on the 12th (C#, D#, or E, TBD) ascending up to around the 5th, B, on the G string, and back down, probably to the 3rd before sliding down to an E chord. Too fucking tired to actually do enough takes to work it out right now though, after sprinting up pretty much every hill around Chris's on my road bike, lol.

                              EDIT #2 -new version without something that sounds so much like an exercise for the ending run. Unless you all hate it, I think this will do - I still get a bunch of those chimey open strings in there, but it does feel like I'm kicking up the energy here right at the end.


                              • #16
                                Crap! ™


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Kim
                                  Crap! ™