What is a 'SOLO' ?

aydee

Platinum Member
Spinning off from another thread, which is currently spinning out of control, I wonder sometimes when we use the word 'solo' what exactly do we mean?

Its it just a simple melody played by a single instrument ( A guy sitting by the river playing a African talking drum? ) Would that constitute a 'solo' ?

Is it a part of a larger musical whole which is interpreted by a single instrument somewhere in the middle. ( A couple of choruses of Elvin Jones 'articulations' within a swing tune )


Is it a constructed singular symphony? ( A Terry Bozzio composition? )

Is it an occasion for chop display, played by a musician AND demanded by the listener within an existing musical boundary.( Dave Weckl Band? )

Is it a complete piece of music within itself? ( A Han Benninck solo? Moby Dick? Neal Peart? )

I have a feeling each of us interpret slightly differently, what we expect to or want to hear when an instrument is playing by itself, especially when it comes to the drums.

Any thoughts?
 

Joe P

Senior Member
A "solo" is usually understood as a piece of music or a section within a piece of music wherein a particular instrument is featured (maybe with a little accompaniment from the other musicians) where it is not always featured (so no, I wouldn't consider a guy sitting by a river playing a talking drum to be "taking a solo"). It is a loosely-used term and should be treated as such, though. It can mean anything from a four bar drum break (trading fours?) to a full composition (Castilian Drums, anyone?).
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
To be real simple, all of the points you bring up, the answer is yes. I think we would probably all disagree as to an exact number of notes necessary or measures played to constitute a solo, any playing by ones self would be a solo.

This is Wikipedia:

In music, a solo (from the Italian: solo, meaning alone, even though assolo is now used in Italy when referring to the musical solo) is a piece or a section of a piece played or sung by a single performer. In practice this means a number of different things, depending on the type of music and the context.

The last sentence there is also not well defined.
 

Derek

Silver Member
Good thoughts Abe. I'm glad you brought this up (yeah, I just tonight saw where that other thread went) .

I think most of the examples you mentioned fit, although the first description of one musician playing a melody by themselves may better be described as a solo piece.

I'm also not so sure a one person symphony or composition (ala Terry Bozzio) would fit the description of a solo, but I may very well be wrong. Perhaps just my own view.

My personal favorite is a musicians interpretation in the "middle of a larger whole" as you put it. This is what I think of when the subject is a solo, but that's just my particular taste I guess.

That said, I sure love a good chops fest as much as the next guy.

I have a feeling there will be a lot of input on this one.
 
M

michael drums

Guest
Uhh...


It's self explanatory, Joe P. :-|


The word "solo" is a synonym of the word "solitary". And as a musical interpretation it is a performance by a "single" instrumentalist or singer.

Or...the "music" composed or arranged for said solitary instrumentalist or singer.


And a "drummer" WOULD/COULD be included in the above definition. Of course!


There ya go, Joe! ;-)
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Good thoughts Abe. I'm glad you brought this up (yeah, I just tonight saw where that other thread went) .

I think most of the examples you mentioned fit, although the first description of one musician playing a melody by themselves may better be described as a solo piece.

I'm also not so sure a one person symphony or composition (ala Terry Bozzio) would fit the description of a solo, but I may very well be wrong. Perhaps just my own view.

My personal favorite is a musicians interpretation in the "middle of a larger whole" as you put it. This is what I think of when the subject is a solo, but that's just my particular taste I guess.

That said, I sure love a good chops fest as much as the next guy.

I have a feeling there will be a lot of input on this one.
Ya, Derek, I sort of wonder if the very idea of a drum solo was an opportunity to demonstrate the capability of an instrument in an otherwise severely restrained playing situation..
( the old "hold the 4 while I play the score" theory ... and now "go ahead do a drumsolo and let it all hang out of thinking )

Maybe it was always supposed to be a chop-fest as an idea, and then gradually developed into people having greater musical expectations from it, leading to more thematic ideas ... I dunno...so it seems..
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Good example, GD.. I guess the definition is accurate in that different idioms of music have presented drum solos differently.

Jazz having more of a trading 8ths lineage, while Peart is coming from the Inagadadavida school of the 10 minute solo.

( remember Iron Butterfly? crap, I'm suddenly feeling very...old )
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
( remember Iron Butterfly? crap, I'm suddenly feeling very...old )
We laugh at that album now but I remember that when I first heard it I thought that it was master piece! I was probably around 12 years old. I wore that record out I played it so much!
 

Baddstuff

Senior Member
check out West Side Story with some guy named Buddy Rich on drums.
that answers the question about as good as it can be answered. : )
 

mrchattr

Gold Member
The true musical definition of a solo is a piece of music (either a full piece or just a section of one) that is performed by one person, alone. Therefore, 98% of all guitar solos, sax solos, etc, do not fit the true musical definition. However, as with many terms in the language, the meaning of the term has expanded, and thus is harder to define. "Solo" now means any time when one instrument, vocalist, etc, is featured. You can have a 20-piece band backing one person doing a feature, and it's a "solo."

Now some of the stuff you mentioned are just different types of solos, whether it's a chops-fest, or a piece of music inside another one, or whatever.
 
We laugh at that album now but I remember that when I first heard it I thought that it was master piece! I was probably around 12 years old. I wore that record out I played it so much!
I just watch the video of In-a-gadda-da-vida today, 17 minutes of pure and original music...Iron Butterfly.
 

Moktie

Member
I've actually had bands ask me to play a drum solo; as if it was a requirement or something.
I never wrote a drum solo. I am usually pretty busy behind the kit anyway, it never really
fit my style. Even in cover groups I usually fill the gaps if you will, sometimes the studio
recording doesn't exactly flow with the rhythm and the melody.

But to compose an actual drum solo isn't really my thing.
What we would do in the original groups is just take turns, sometimes in every song.
The guitarist('s) will play a lead...then the bassist will play a lead...then i'll go off
for few bars or so. ?? Would you call that Round Rockin' Robin ??

[Yeah that last part was dumb: oh well i'm not too proud to poke fun at myself]
 

Vipercussionist

Silver Member
Spinning off from another thread, which is currently spinning out of control, I wonder sometimes when we use the word 'solo' what exactly do we mean?

Its it just a simple melody played by a single instrument ( A guy sitting by the river playing a African talking drum? ) Would that constitute a 'solo' ?

Is it a part of a larger musical whole which is interpreted by a single instrument somewhere in the middle. ( A couple of choruses of Elvin Jones 'articulations' within a swing tune )


Is it a constructed singular symphony? ( A Terry Bozzio composition? )

Is it an occasion for chop display, played by a musician AND demanded by the listener within an existing musical boundary.( Dave Weckl Band? )

Is it a complete piece of music within itself? ( A Han Benninck solo? Moby Dick? Neal Peart? )

I have a feeling each of us interpret slightly differently, what we expect to or want to hear when an instrument is playing by itself, especially when it comes to the drums.

Any thoughts?
SOLO, a musician playing unaccompanied by other musicians. WHAT you play is not important, just that you are doing it alone.
 
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