How do you approach a drum solo?

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Hi Drummers

In my early years, when I did a live solo, I would put everything "licks" and "chops" that I knew within the solo, not a very musical statement based upon my perception of what should be a solo from myself today.

Nowadays, I prefer to solo within a song, either by soloing while the band keep playing, or, if the band stop playing for my solo, using the "ryhtmical frame" of the song, it provides intantaneous feels and vibes within the context of the song, and enable me to play a more musical solo than just doing a display of fast technique and chops.

If a do an open free form solo, outside the context of a song, I try to stay within the style of the band I'm playing with at the time, again avoiding the typical "licks" and "chops", not everyone's a drummer in the audience, I feel it's more authentic...

Here's a good exemple of soloing within a song by Peter Erskine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V70BYk5D0e8&feature=related

How do you approach soloing? Do you use an Ostinato? Are you soloing within a song? Play alone?
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Sorry mate, solo's of any credibility are out of my league. If I were to attempt a solo, it would certainly be groove based with timbre & dynamic exploration refrain sections. I'm a song vibe guy, & yes, that is where my pleasure lies, but it's also where my gross lack of ability forces me to stay.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
...

usually I'll begin it off a riff or an idea within the tune. I'll try an sing the tune in my head through the solo. For me, it must have a begining, and an end and a theme. Doesnt always work out that way but thats what I'll try an do.

Here's an approach i like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3EWEje3f2Zc ( nathaniel townsley )

...
 

Too Many Songs

Senior Member
I hate solos and soloing. Musically they bore me. But if you (or I) must then approach it melodically rather than mechanically. My favourite solo is Jack DeJohnette's solo in God Bless the Child on Keith Jarrett's Standards Vol.1. A masterpiece of the drummer's art.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Agree with everything said. When I was young it seemed like there were certain things a drum solo had to have - fast accented snarework, shift to toms, Bonzo triplets and quadruplets, add crashes, speed up till you can't go any faster and break down to a crush roll that builds in intensity (just before it breaks down) more cymbal and tom crap to build to the "climax" and then you do something to bring everyone back in. It was never my forte.

These days my approach is like Andy - "groove based with timbre & dynamic exploration refrain sections" and Abe - "usually I'll begin it off a riff or an idea within the tune. I'll try an sing the tune in my head through the solo".

It's an odd tradition - where everyone else solos with accompaniment but the non-scalar instrument solos alone. Lots more interesting and flexible ways of approaching drum solos have happened in the last 20 years ...

like Leon Parker: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uu4asv7xTc

and Phil Collins ... with perfect keyboard and drum accompaniment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRFjOMrMxj4
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
If I were to attempt a solo, it would certainly be groove based with timbre & dynamic exploration refrain sections. I'm a song vibe guy, & yes, that is where my pleasure lies...
We tend to think that "soloing" is not just groove playing, but I tend to differ on that, and many a time, I've just did what you mentioned, it works well within the context of a song.

...

usually I'll begin it off a riff or an idea within the tune. I'll try an sing the tune in my head through the solo. For me, it must have a begining, and an end and a theme. Doesnt always work out that way but thats what I'll try an do.
A similar approach as mine... but sometimes, the plan change completely to what I originaly planned... :))

I hate solos and soloing. Musically they bore me...
I can somehow relate to this, I've been so many time at gigs where people go to the bar for their drinks while the drummer is doing his solo, but I stay... ha ha

But it also depends on the style of the gig, while it can be true in a "rock" setting, the audience is more attentive in a jazz or fusion setting...
 

mikel

Platinum Member
Love drumming, hate solos.
I am a child of the 60s and 70s and boy, have I seen some solos, and I was bored by all of them. So just imagine what the none drummers in the audience felt like?
Nah, play the groove to the best of your ability.
My solo is the whole song, I can get out everything I want during the music. It takes more imagination to play what you like, and make it fit the song, rather than trying to show off how fast you are during the dreaded drum solo.
Only the dreaded bass solo is more likely to send me to the bar.
 

Neil

Senior Member
...With fear and loathing, drum solos are cool but I know my limitations and soloing is one of them.
I can't break out of the trap of singles around the kit and hitting everything my arms will reach. Still you get better by doing things that are hard..I just wish people weren't watching while I'm trying.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
My approach is always to keep the solo rooted in the composition of the piece.

If I'm playing jazz, I will keep the head of the tune playing in my mind and work around that. I like to take cues from the other soloists, especially the phrases played by the soloist who preceded me, echoing those back or continuing those ideas and taking them into something else. I find that particularly useful when trading fours or eights.

Of course, I have varying degrees of success with all of that. Often, I just feel like I wind up repeating lame licks. There are good days and bad days.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Lots more interesting and flexible ways of approaching drum solos have happened in the last 20 years ...like Leon Parker and Phil Collins ... with perfect keyboard and drum accompaniment
Agreed, Leon Parker's solo is a good example of soloing within a song.

Lots of interaction between Tony Banks & Phil Collins here, that's the magic of good listening and spontaneity...

Love drumming, hate solos.
I am a child of the 60s and 70s and boy, have I seen some solos, and I was bored by all of them...
All of them?.... To me a good drums solo within a song is as good and inspiring as any other instrumants doing solos, it's the chance for a drummer to transcsribe his feeling and emotions, it can be spiritualy beautiful and meaningful to an audience...

...With fear and loathing, drum solos are cool but I know my limitations and soloing is one of them.
I can't break out of the trap of singles around the kit and hitting everything my arms will reach. Still you get better by doing things that are hard..I just wish people weren't watching while I'm trying.
Try to practice soloing over/within a song and LISTEN carefully to the other players and apply to the set your feelings and emotions... It does not necessary mean to be all fast notes around the drums....

You can also develop good skills at soloing by applying rudiments to the whole kit, without forgetting your feet work...

My approach is always to keep the solo rooted in the composition of the piece.
That's pretty much my approach too...
 

haredrums

Silver Member
This is a great discussion everyone! Pollyanna, love that Leon Parker clip, great example of tasteful soloing in the context of a song.

I completely agree with what everyone has mentioned about soloing in a song, so I wanted to talk about what to do with an open solo. I think that an open solo can be really intimidating and can easily turn into a "play everything you know how to play"fest. With that in mind, I think that by far the most important part of an open solo is the use of space.

Use of space, particularly in an open solo, is one of the most important but neglected parts of drumming. I have a post with an example of me playing an open solo that demonstrates what I am talking about here:

http://haredrums.blogspot.com/2011/11/space-final-frontier.html
 

drummerjims

Senior Member
I am a firm believer in the fact that the style of music and the audience you are playing in front of are the things that are supposed to dictate what kind of solo you play. I am never fully comfortable playing solo's just because I am a pocket drummer. However sometimes you have to give in (at least in my experience) and make some people happy. The best advice I ever got was from an amazing jazz pianist who taught me a lot about soloing. I was having problems with soloing and to put things in perspective he asked me "would you play the same kind of solo in front of a bunch of drunk frat boys as you would in front of great jazz musicians?" obviously the answer was no. Then he asked me "Would you play the same solo in a rock group playing a giant arena as you would playing in a jazz club or theater?" once again the answer was no.

Thinking about this I decided I needed a formula for soloing since i play in all different types of groups. What I came up with was:

Jazz = in context of song (take a verse not a solo)

Rock gig = Show off your stuff that is what people are there to see

Funk gig = groove based solo if you like funk then you like the groove
 

JPage4732

Junior Member
I think that by far the most important part of an open solo is the use of space.

Use of space, particularly in an open solo, is one of the most important but neglected parts of drumming.
YES! This is hard, especially for younger drummers. When everything stops except the drums, the adrenaline kicks in and it's off to the races!
 

yesdog

Silver Member
I would love to solo, I have a mental block when being put on the spot. My brain locks up and I just can't think on the fly. I am also terrified if I have to speak in front of a group of people. I can solo just fine with the band playing a vamp. I don't have stage fright, its one of those mental things I guess
 

haredrums

Silver Member
I would love to solo, I have a mental block when being put on the spot. My brain locks up and I just can't think on the fly. I am also terrified if I have to speak in front of a group of people. I can solo just fine with the band playing a vamp. I don't have stage fright, its one of those mental things I guess
Hey Yesdog,

I totally hear you. I have an idea that you may have tried before, but I have found this has helped me. You need to practice performing an unaccompanied with a simulated audience, a video recorder. This may help you practice playing through the nerves issue a little bit because recording yourself adds a surprising amount of pressure.

Hope this helps.
 
D

drumfreak1987

Guest
i like to solo within the song, i get fired up when we're groovin' and making the magic happen. so i like to solo in a one, two, three or four bar break, or the band will vamp a pattern and let me bust out, so it's kinda that jazz approach to soloing while playing rock. people love it, too!!
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I would love to solo, I have a mental block when being put on the spot. My brain locks up and I just can't think on the fly. I am also terrified if I have to speak in front of a group of people. I can solo just fine with the band playing a vamp. I don't have stage fright, its one of those mental things I guess
Hi Yesdog

Well, Haredrums has already giving you a good advice, so I'll give you my 2 cents of advice...

Within an audience, at almost every gig that you do, there will be drummers in the audience or fans of drumming, and chances are they'll be watching your every move you for the whole gig, and it's only because the rest of your band is playing that you are not aware of this, so you are in the spotlight the whole way, the next time you'll go on stage remember this, look for them, you'll see, they're there...

To do a solo then would only be a small step to walk, be brave and go for it, you won't regret it.... :))

NB, do you have songs with a drum intro for four bars in you set list? If so, somehow, you're already doing it...
 
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