If you have ever heard a guitar solo that makes you want to weep, chances are you know the power of a melodic guitar solo. Melodic guitar solos are fun, and more often than not they are simple. Before we discuss how you can compose your own guitar solo, first we need to make sure you understand what melody is.
If you scour the internet and watch videos on YouTube entitled ‘Melodic Guitar Solo’ the chances are, you are not actually listening to a melodic guitar solo.
Most people confuse melody and harmony. Melody is a linear progression of notes in either an ascending or descending pattern (up or down the neck) and more often than not musicians move up and then back down or vise versa. Harmony, on the other hand, is the coming together of two or more voices.
Many self proclaimed melodic bands are all but melodic when it comes to guitar soloing. The main example of this is if the musician simply plays more than one notes at a time during their solo. If they do, they are no longer playing melodically, even if they were following a linear, one directional pattern before.
Now that you understand what melody is, naturally you may be curious how you can compose your very own, original guitar solo.
The first step is to learn your notes. This will help you to discern the key signature of the song you are going to be composing a solo for. This is important as you will need to stay in key for the solo to sound pleasing to your listener.
It is important that you choose more powerful notes. Don’t favor repetitive, meandering patterns. Not only are they not melodic, but they also skirt the edge of boredom and cause disinterest to listeners very quickly.
It is critical that you be able to play cleanly in order to compose a melodic guitar solo.
No matter if your pattern is linear or not, if you fumble easily into other notes you go from melody to harmony without even intending to do so. Practice using a metronome; be sure that your note values are even and you have complete digit control and awareness.
The final step is to sing your solo. This may sound ludicrous, but if you can sing your guitar solo then it is melodic. This is because, among other obvious reasons, the pattern of a melodic solo should not be jumping octaves, or many notes at all. If you can sing your solo, then your solo is more than likely linear; going in one direction at a steady pace.
As with all guitar skills, composition takes a lot of practice and effort. I highly suggest that you listen to some of your favorite guitar solos and try to deconstruct them to see if they are melodic or not.
Not only will this give you a further understanding, but it will also help you to discover which techniques work, and why they work. Once you understand how and why the solos work, you will be able to apply the knowledge to your own writing. Good luck!
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