How to Improvise Lead Guitar One Note at a Time
This article is aimed primarily at guitarists but the principles can be applied to any instrument.
Rhythm is the driving force behind most melodies whether it be an improvised solo or predetermined/composed part of the song. It's very important to learn the idiomatic rhythms of the the styles you choose to improvise on. Blues as an overall music is great because there are so many grooves that are used.
To get started improvising I always suggest working with a single pitch so as to better focus on the extremely important rhythmic and phrasing aspects of learning how to solo.You then will start adding in more notes to create melodies.
The following is a list of the many things one should take into consideration when beginning to learn how to improvise.
Where in the measure you hit the note
- beats 1,2,3 or 4
- downbeat, or upbeat
How long you hold the note
- when you stop the note
How many times you hit the note
- syncopation (accenting the upbeats)
- combinations of long, short, upbeat, downbeat
Subdivision of the notes
- sixteenth and beyond
- air is note!
- how long you rest
- the space between the notes
- crescendo (gradually get louder)
- decrescendo (gradually get softer)
- staccato (abrupt attack, no sustain)
- legato (smooth attack, each note rings to the next)
- pick sounds (the way you attack the string)
- finger sounds (the way you attack the string)
- slide to or from note
Adding More Notes
- all of the one note techniques
- sliding between notes
- hammer on
- pull off
- various bend-slide-hammer-pull combinations
- sequential patterns
- intervallic patterns
- BB King (pretty much anything)
- Miles Davis (So What)
- Count Basie
- Albert King
One Measure Phrases
Two Measure Phrases
The best way to tie everything together is by using the measure phrase technique.
Check out this YouTube lesson:
These are a few things to think about when listening to other great soloists. You should work on each of them until they are 2nd nature, It will get to a point where they automatically become a part of your playing without thinking about it. Learning other people's solos or at least parts of them that you like is good practice.
Phrasing & Improvisation
- Jimi Hendrix Slow Song Rhythm Guitar Fills Technique...
Hendrix popularized the two-note chord hammer on and pull off rhythm fills in songs such as Little Wing and Castles Made of Sand.
- French and Italian Opera in the Baroque Era
Comparison of French and Italian Opera in the Baroque Period
- Modes in Music: The Basic Theory
A simplified explanation of how the modes in music work and some practical applications.
- How To Play Rhythm Piano (Why should guitarists have...
The problem with traditional piano education is that it doesn't teach you how to play in a band.
- Strumming Patterns for Beginning Acoustic and Electr...
An instructional overview on many of the nust-know strumming rhythm patterns for electric and acoustic guitar.
- The CAGED Chord System For Guitar is Simple
There seems to be a lot of mystery and confusion surrounding the much lauded
- Learn The 5 Positions of the E Minor Pentatonic Scal...
The minor pentatonic scale on the guitar, and particularily the E minor pentatonic scale is a blues and rock guitar staple. There have been so many guitar driven songs in this key that one could easily make a case for E being the starting place to le
- The Many Ways to Make a Living Playing Guitar
Mark Fitchett discussing from his perspective how to survive playing guitar and the pro and cons of university education for guitar.
- Guitar Neck Theory Understanding How The Notes on th...
An in-depth look of how the notes are laid out on the guitar neck.
- How to Memorize the Notes on the Guitar Neck
This article will show you the best method ever of how to efficiently learn and memorize the notes on a guitar neck in the shortest amount of time.
- Phrasing in Improvisation
An overview on concepts applied to improvisation and composition.
Chromaticism & Improvising
- Incorporating Chromaticism into Improvising
How chromatic notes work in improvisation
Learning The Musical Alphabet
- Common Scale Formulas
The intervallic formulas for some very useful scales jazz rock blues composition and improvisation
© 2012 Mark Edward Fitchett