New added solo responsibilities, help!

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
OK so the leader in my main band, the singer/guitarist..this guy is a musicians musician. He's been around the block with some big names, gold records blah blah. He really knows his music, drums included. He's like my musical Daddy lol. We were talking about drum solos a while back, and he hinted to me (by complimenting another drummer) that he was very impressed when drummer X took a solo, because he made his solo fit the song form. (translation: Larry when you solo, you need to step it up and make your solo fit into the song form)

OK so lately I've been getting a drum solo in James Brown's/Jaco's "The Chicken". It's like a test for me. Anyone who knows the song knows that there are definite unison band hits in the last bar of the 16 bar chord progression. Since my solo spans 2 full chord progressions, I need to do the band hits 2 times in my solo, at the right spots lol.
Usually, (not always) when my solo starts, we're already 4 bars into the 16 bar progression. That leaves 11 bars of solo and 1 bar of unison band hits. Then he usually gives me another go round which would be another 15 bars of soloing and 1 bar of band hits. I got the math.

Here's my dilemma... I have to make my solo a certain length to make the band hits...I can keep my place and do a solo that is basically mimicking the now imaginary melody...but it's weak.... like about 15% of what I'm capable of...I'm using all my brainpower to keep my place basically, echoing a silent melody. I heard playback. It sounds lame. I have much more horsepower to burn in my hands and feet but I can't tap into it because I'm using what brainpower I have to sing the melody. When I'm singing the melody, the part of my brain that invents my drum solo phrasing is grayed out, function not available lol. Yea I think it's safe to say I don't have form mastered yet lol.

When I try and solo...the phrases that I come up with...I just can't keep count and invent phrases on the spot. Oftentimes, since it's my solo and I am unrestricted, my phrasing will go over the barline. OK sure I can keep my place for maybe 5 bars but after that I am so wrapped up in squeezing out phrasing and execution that eventually makes sense that I just cannot keep the count and invent at the same time. Not for that long. Coming out of the solo to do the band hits...sometimes I guess and get it right, happy face, sometimes not, sad face.

So for now, I think my workaround is gonna have to be screw the count, do the best solo I can, keep the guitarist in the corner of my eye, and when I see him go for the hits, jump on them. That would be much easier for me, to snow him.

But I don't feel good about this. When I try to keep count and simultaneously invent solo phrasing in my practice room, I CAN'T DO IT!!! My brain hurts. I am trying though but not getting anywhere. Soloing for me is a monumental struggle in the first place, now I have to fit it in a box?

So, until I acquire the skills, do I do a much lesser solo and really keep my place and work on getting better at it like that or do I do a better solo and cheat?

But really, how does anyone do a long solo and keep their place. Sing the melody right? I can't do that and phrase how I want to. It takes all my brain power to phrase and execute.

Any tips?
 
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Numberless

Platinum Member
You could try thinking about the phrases themselves, if you organize your solo in two bar phrases, then you can just add them up and find your place really quickly while not having to think of the melody all the time. Play a two bar phrase, answer it with another two bar phrase, then play the first phrase and answer it with another phrase, you're already eight bars in. Eventually you want to be aware of 4 or 8 bar phrases but getting there will take work. I'm im the same boat myself, learning to solo over a form, and right now this is what I'm working on.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
The beginner (me) would try to play 8ths on the hats with foot and learn it over that? Maybe you already are?

Theres always the click (I never played in a band but dont like the idea)- practice it 1200000 times over a click?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Play a two bar phrase, answer it with another two bar phrase, then play the first phrase and answer it with another phrase, you're already eight bars in. .
Say that's something I might be able to work out. Good tip! Phrase in 2 bar phrases for now. Thanks! My phrases tend to go on like diarrhea, and I lose track of where I am.
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
I have the same trouble with guitar solos. I've never really had to do a drum solo but for maybe 8 measures at the most. Can't you maybe get 16 bars down and just repeat it? Possibly?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Try thinking of it in a different way. Don't try to "sing the melody" try to sing your drum part. Know what I mean? Sing it like you're a drum-set. "Boom--Chack--Boom-de-boom-chack-chack"... Etc. Play along to yourself and above all, keep the original groove you were playing in mind. Come back to it a few times while you're soloing to let your audience know that you know where you are and what song you're playing.

It also helps me to remember that I don't have any obligation to blow anyone's socks off with my blazing drumming during a solo. My obligation is to play for the song. If that means literally keeping the same pattern in my hands and just displacing the kick pattern in a cool way, then so be it. They don't like it, they can go see dave weckl or something. I'm sure he has a few 164th note solos for em.

Your mileage will of course vary.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
So for now, I think my workaround is gonna have to be screw the count, do the best solo I can, keep the guitarist in the corner of my eye, and when I see him go for the hits, jump on them. That would be much easier for me, to snow him.

But I don't feel good about this. When I try to keep count and simultaneously invent solo phrasing in my practice room, I CAN'T DO IT!!! My brain hurts. I am trying though but not getting anywhere. Soloing for me is a monumental struggle in the first place, now I have to fit it in a box?

So, until I acquire the skills, do I do a much lesser solo and really keep my place and work on getting better at it like that or do I do a better solo and cheat?

But really, how does anyone do a long solo and keep their place. Sing the melody right? I can't do that and phrase how I want to. It takes all my brain power to phrase and execute.

Any tips?
The Chicken is indeed a tough one to solo over, and I've seen some damn fine drummers struggle with it, too. You are not alone! :)

First tip: don't improvise -- yet.

Second tip: you should not eyeball the guitarist. If he's as good as you say, he'll catch on and turn his back.

Third: map out the structure of the tune, and write out the band hits as your group is playing them. The band hits you refer happen in bar 12 of the 16 bar progression, right? Are there any other band hits? I'd expect them on the 1 of the first bar, the "and" of beat 4 in bar 4, and a "4e&a" in bar 8. Some other things might be added to that list, if the mood permits (a band hit on beat 4 of bar 6 maybe).

Fourth: write out a kick ass solo and practice it with a click. Make it so that you're able to play the band hits easily. It will also help to not play a flurry of notes right up until each band hit, and maybe end your fill or lick an 8th note early, so that the band can confidently play each hit.

Don't try to be melodic! Let the rest of the band worry about that! The more you try to inflect the melody of the tune into your solo, the less you will be able to actually improvise. What you want to do is play some rhythmic ideas and phrases, in the style of the tune, nothing more. If you're having trouble thinking of phrases, try playing the solo with only your bass drum, or only your right hand on the toms. Mess with the spacing, and different note values, but play the band hits at the right moments! When you find a rhythmic idea you like, build a more complicated drumset vocabulary around it!

Fifth: don't count on stage if you can help it. If you feel the need, you're in over your head. Count in the practice room while learning, but also practice without counting. You need to be able to just feel it, so that the band can feel it, too.

Good luck!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I have the same trouble with guitar solos. I've never really had to do a drum solo but for maybe 8 measures at the most. Can't you maybe get 16 bars down and just repeat it? Possibly?
No, I won't do a pre arranged solo, not my style. It could start at a different time.

Try thinking of it in a different way. Don't try to "sing the melody" try to sing your drum part. Know what I mean? Sing it like you're a drum-set. "Boom--Chack--Boom-de-boom-chack-chack"..

It also helps me to remember that I don't have any obligation to blow anyone's socks off with my blazing drumming during a solo. My obligation is to play for the song.
Sorry but I don't know what you mean...If I think of the drum part alone, using my standard phrasing practices, I lose my place. Not enough brainpower to make a rhythmic statement and count bars...yet. I play with amazing soloists and I have a need to be on par with them, to the best of my ability.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
....

Larry, I've done this a few times, and many versions, with many different kinds of players. I feel the only natural place for a solo Is the rest at the end of the closing riff.

What we would do is at the end of the papa pa- pa paparah, the band would hold the note on the 1 of the next bar and you could solo for 8 ,16 whatever you wish and lead the band back into the opening bass line.

PS- e.g. If you are playing in the key of A, the last note of the riff would be G and the chord the band would hit on the next 1 would be a C 7 which makes the tune kind do into a hang. So I would think of it more like a really long pick up or lead in back into the song.

...
 
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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Sorry but I don't know what you mean...If I think of the drum part alone, using my standard phrasing practices, I lose my place. Not enough brainpower to make a rhythmic statement and count bars...yet. I play with amazing soloists and I have a need to be on par with them, to the best of my ability.
Sorry, I wasn't real clear. I'm assuming you're working out what you want to do ahead of time. "singing" the beat instead of the melody is just my way of keeping place in a solo where I can't rely on song structure or queues for my different parts. In this way I don't have to count, because my "solo" is progressive and has a direction. I sing the drum part because it helps me keep everything on time and holds my place as to where I am in the solo itself. I think this only works for me because I never do the type of "solo" where I'm just going nuts for "x" number of bars... I don't have to count because my solo has a structure that I keep track of the same way I keep track of a song's changes.

I'm still not sure this is coming across right now... Apologies for my lack of clarity.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
....


What we would do is at the end of the papa pa- pa paparah, the band would hold the note on the 1 of the next bar and you could solo for 8 ,16 whatever you wish and lead the band back into the opening bass line.

...
Not my band, not my call how to arrange the song, need to know where I am.

Sorry, I wasn't real clear. I'm assuming you're working out what you want to do ahead of time.
No I can't do that in this band, it's too dynamic. Sometimes we are real soft when he gives me the solo, most times we are louder...I have to be able to invent and know my place.

Actually talking about it has helped. I did better today trying to imagine the melody, which I can do, and solo stronger to it, which I m trying to do. I still like Numberless idea and will try that out too.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
Try it! I still have to play the phrases with clear starting and ending points, the end goal is to eventually be able to think about longer phrases and be able to move around them freely, being able to end a phrase on the "and" of 2 without losing my place for example. I'm very, very far from that goal yet but you gotta start somewhere jaja.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Larry, if Larry was here to advise you he'd say that if you're practising it at home, don't think it, feel it. And record what you do.

Just one cool motif might be enough to get more ideas flowing. Just have to come up that motif ...
 

denisri

Silver Member
Hi Larry
Nice topic....If you don't want to develop a specific drum solo.....learn,sing the melody and play over it. Do you have a program to slow the original song down...all then play of it many times. Good luck Denis
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Larry, if Larry was here to advise you he'd say that if you're practising it at home, don't think it, feel it. And record what you do.

Just one cool motif might be enough to get more ideas flowing. Just have to come up that motif ...
I can't feel 12 and 16 bars..too much space...I can feel 2 or 4 bars though, so I'll have to break it down into chunks.

Hi Larry
Nice topic....If you don't want to develop a specific drum solo.....learn,sing the melody and play over it. Do you have a program to slow the original song down...all then play of it many times. Good luck Denis
Between breaking it down into more manageable pieces and trying to do better while singing the melody, I should have enough tools to get this right. Now it's just practicing until I get it.

It's funny, at the start of this thread, I was totally clueless, now, even though I haven't really put lots of time in with this particular issue yet, I feel as though I've got a real good handle on how to clear this hurdle. It's amazing how far you can get just thinking about a problem, and especially airing it out here. Thanks everyone.
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
Any tips?
The hardest part of your soloing is keeping the melody and structure in you memory cells, while spontaneously soloing over it and keeping within the feel of the song, it's a tough one Larry, yes, numberless suggestion is very good, and with this in mind, for the practice room only, you can play along a recording of the melody for the 16 bars, this might help you to memorise your patterns, you have to have some kind of a pre-stucture to play this solo, even if you play "on the spur of the moment" when soloing live, it's like a discussion on a given topic, you have to be familiar with the topic and more or less knowing what your imput will be within the discussion, the same apply to your solo, you've got to have an idea of what you're gonna say with your drums, and by practicing with a recorded melody will help you do just that, once you've establish what you want to say musically, you can then practice your solo without the recorded melody, but the language you've developed should help you to formulate your words and phrases during the solo :)
 

Otto

Platinum Member
Take the bass player with you on your journey.

simple muffled plucked/thumbed half notes with every other accented to show the bar is an easy way to have your beat and eat it too.

Solo dosent mean 'alone' ..it means sic- 'by ones self'...your solo...the bands pulse....forces you to relate to the bands playing whether you like it or not...solving both the structural and perception issues you mention.

I would also suggest developing a musical voice on a melodic instrument, plotting out your solo thoughts on that different melodic instrument, then moving the thoughts to the drum set...even if that instrument is your own voice...learn to scat sing a solo where you want it and you will always root back to the original tune.
 
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