(11 Dec 03)
Well it's Christmas time again and we're being bombarded with Christmas songs and carols. Yes, I gotta say that I can't help but feeling a little jealous if I think how much money Georgy makes just on the performance rights of 'Last Christmas' (but this is a different story).
Anyway, Christmas is also the time when families meet in a (hopefully) relaxed and friendly way. I dunno about you but it's happened to me so many times that I'm asked to play something ... 'Oh please, play something for us ... etc ... a Christmas song ...'. When I started out I thought 'Aaaah, I'm learning guitar to improvise for the greater benefit of my artistic soul - you don't understand!'... So I ended up saying 'Sorry, can't do ...'.
Later on I realised that I was wrong and that it is quite important to have some kind of solo repertoire, be it an improvised Blues, a chord melody solo, or just a simple song (where I really do know the lyrics!!!).
General thoughts about Chord Solos
My first real introduction to chord solos was when I began my studies at Berklee. I was really intrigued by the possibilities of this technique and all the different aspects involved in the style ...
- Chord solos are technically challenging. It's a great way to practice chords and different voicings in a practical and musical way. Furthermore, it helps improve synchronisation of left and right hands.
- Chord solos involve a lot of arranging techniques. As I got further into my studies at Berklee, the more I got interested in arranging. Although the studies were mainly intended for Big Bands and the like, writing chord solos for guitar follow the same rules. Needless to say, writing stuff down on paper is a lot of fun ...
- You don't need anybody else. This is probably what got me hooked the most. It's all in your hands. I don't need to deal with any other musician, which can sometimes be a challenge on it's own.
- and last but not least: Repertoire.
A few things up front ...
First of all this article is intended as a workshop - instead of me going through every bar of the solo explaining what is happening I encourage you to use the forums. I have created a forum thread just for this purpose and I really do hope that you have a lot of questions!!! The thread can be found here.
The piece originated from my first semester at Berklee - I honestly can't remember what the original source of this arrangement was - it could have been an arrangement by one of the teachers or maybe William Leavitt but I wasn't able to find any written proof ... either way, through the years I've been going over the solo in my head and have now finally notated it.
I created a few files that should help you get to grips with this solo.
- The bare notation, available on the next page (also in pdf)
- A PowerTab file for the fingering (in order to analyse the solo please use the notated version only as PowerTab has some issues with accidentals, etc ...) So use the powertab to look up the voicings and fingerings only. This file is also available as a pdf in case you haven't installed PowerTab.
- A 'barely acceptable' sound mp3 file of me playing the solo (I will buy a new soundcard next week!! Promise!)
- A midi file of the solo.
All right, on to ...