Thursday, May 2, 2013

Setting yourself apart

The longer you play with a group, the more you will start to look and sound like the group when you solo.

It's sometimes easy to see with more overt things, like people doing the same movement or playing the same pattern.  It can also come through in more subtle things like sensibilities and the "contours" of solos.  And while there might be players who are outliers (i.e., who still remain more distinct in their solos) in the group, most likely they have still started to pick up and use elements from other people's solos.

Is this "bad"?  No.  The only "bad" solo is the one that's off-tempo.  I could argue that other things make a bad solo, like not matching the mood of the song or playing too many notes, or hitting too hard, etc., but some people might like that kind of stuff.

So let's assume you want to be more distinct in your solos, what do you do?

The first step, as usual, is awareness.  How aware are you of what you do in your solo?  What movements are you doing, what patterns are you playing?  What are your tendencies?  View them objectively.

Next, look at other people's solos from the same objective perspective.  What sort of things come up again and again?  How are people sounding similar?  What aren't people doing?

That should be all the information you need, really.  Depending on your style, you can "feel" when to try something new, craft a new solo from scratch with these ideas in mind, or adapt what you already do with a few new elements.  There's no one best way.

Maybe you don't mind blending in or not standing out, and that's fine.  Still, better it be a choice than just your "default".  Be aware, be present, be better!

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