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Thread: Evolution of the guitar solo in 6 minutes!

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    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    Evolution of the guitar solo in 6 minutes!

    Did anyone post this here yet? I think they could have started a bit earlier but this was a great idea. I like how the 90s showed you could write great songs and not even have a solo in them. I sometimes question the need and validity of having a solo in a tune at all. It can heighten the song if it's placed well in the arrangement. Other times it seems pretty unnecessary. What says you?


  2. #2
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    That was awesome!

    Solos - to me - are like singing: its a way for an instrumentalist to "say" something and communicate with the listener.

    That being said, a great song doesn't have to have a solo....However, what I despised about the 90s was that it wasn't the artist's choice; that was the industry forcing artists not to do something.

  3. #3
    Despite being a GTR player, I agree that a GTR solo is not always an appropriate inclusion to a song. When composing music, either alone or with my band, I try to remember the following: If you "listen" hard enough, the song will "tell" you what it needs.

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    Member No Pride's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by klothos View Post
    Solos - to me - are like singing: its a way for an instrumentalist to "say" something and communicate with the listener.

    That being said, a great song doesn't have to have a solo....However, what I despised about the 90s was that it wasn't the artist's choice; that was the industry forcing artists not to do something.
    ... and despite what that video would have you believe, it's gotten worse; finding a guitar solo (or any instrumental solo, for that matter) in a mainstream pop tune these days is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Yeah, sometimes it's not necessary, but personally, I like some sort of instrumental interlude in a song; I just like a different texture than that wall-to-wall vocal thing provides. And besides, I'm a big fan of improvisation, doing it myself and listening to "the greats" do it. Is it still revelant in pop music? I can dream, can't I?!

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    Progdog ThomasKDye's Avatar
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    I remember vividly when my friend (who played guitar in a local garage band) heard "Nevermind" for the first time. He turned to me and said, "Is it me or do these guys not do guitar solos?" the way someone might say, "Is it me or is no one here wearing any pants?"

    Being a Genesis fan, I was pretty used to the idea that a song didn't need a solo, so I shrugged.

  6. #6
    Moderator Sean's Avatar
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    I'm with Ernie. This recent resurgence of the solo they mention in the vid seems tentative at best. John Mayer did it? Umm, yeah, sure.

  7. #7
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Pride View Post
    ... and despite what that video would have you believe, it's gotten worse; finding a guitar solo (or any instrumental solo, for that matter) in a mainstream pop tune these days is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Yeah, sometimes it's not necessary, but personally, I like some sort of instrumental interlude in a song; I just like a different texture than that wall-to-wall vocal thing provides. And besides, I'm a big fan of improvisation, doing it myself and listening to "the greats" do it. Is it still revelant in pop music? I can only hope.

    True, but the problem with the 90s in particular was that it was one of the most formulaic - yet, heavily disguised -- approaches to music:

    Klothos' 90s Rock Band Checklist:

    __ Must have tenor singer that makes pirate sounds (think: angry Jim Morrison). It doesn't matter that you, the artist, wrote songs that require the melody-line go higher, you will absolutely not go Robert Plant on any song (see next checkpoint)

    __ Must write songs in the lowest keys possible. Detune your guitars or "Drop" tunings. E is not low enough. If you require a higher melody line (see above), simply detune and transpose

    __ No happy songs. It doesn't matter that you, the artist, wants to write a happy song....happy was last decade, hence the reason for lowest possible tunings. Minor keys preferred. Songs must be moody - the more angry or depressing, the better. If your songs can not start a pit at some concerts, you may need to retool

    __ Three part harmonies are kept to a minimum and only used to emphasize certain key vocal parts of a song. It doesn't matter that you, the artist, has written a song with three-part vox, there will absolutely be no Beatle-esque happiness

    __ Absolutely NO SYNTHESIZERS. It doesnt matter that you, the artist, wants a synthesizer embellishment -- unless you are an industrial-techno influenced act, keep additional keyboards to organic instruments ONLY such as piano and organ. If you need strings, use real ones.

    __ The title of the song does not have to be in the chorus. Although this is optional, we prefer it this way. If the Chorus goes "I hate you and I want you to kill yourself", simply call the song a one word title thats not spoken anywhere in the chorus (or the enire lyrics for that matter), like "Dirge"....this adds to your dark moody mystery. The track listing on your CD should look something like this: 1.Dirge 2.Blight 3.Scum......etc....

    __ Dark clothes is a must. At least two members must have a goatee and mustache in a "ring-around-the-piehole" configuration. No poofy hair: If you have natural poofy or curly hair, buy hair straightener or be replaced.

    __ Guitar Solos will be kept to double-stops or noise. Absolutely no single-string diatonic runs. It doesn't matter that you, the artist, want to write a few diatonic solos in your songs, do not do it. No pinch harmonics or dive-bombs and - especially! - no two-handed tapping

    __ You will sign to a subidiary label of a large corporate label. It doesn't matter that Sony is the parent corporation of the label we put you on, you will look like an indie artist
    Last edited by klothos; 09-21-2013 at 02:00 PM.

  8. #8
    Pikachupacabra spellbound's Avatar
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    Great video. I have been listening to music from the early '60s on. I never thought about it from the point of view of guitar soloing. I can see where a guitar solo might be unnecessary in some songs. If I am enthralled with a song, I probably won't notice the lack of a guitar solo or consider it as "missing" from the song. But I can't give an unbiased opinion because my favorite music of all time was made from the mid '60s to the late '70s. So, of course, I like guitar solos.

    I like keyboard solos, too, dating back to the days when the men wore capes and the women were nowhere to be found.
    Can this be the swan song? The final elbow?

  9. #9
    Like I said on Facebook, the biggest problem here for me is ignoring the fact that guitar solos were in fact a major part of songs even in the 50s and 60s- Rock Around the Clock had a major one, many of the early Beatles songs had them, they just tended to be composed solos until around Rubber Soul or Revolver. I don't think its right to say the early 60s were all riffs and no solos.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Sean View Post
    Did anyone post this here yet?
    Yes. I did.

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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    Must have tenor singer that makes pirate sounds (think: angry Jim Morrison). It doesn't matter that you, the artist, wrote songs that require the melody-line go higher, you will absolutely not go Robert Plant on any song
    Except of course for Chris Cornell. And didn't Soundgarden have solos? Well, they were an exception anyway.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

  12. #12
    The more I think about it, the more I think they are coming from the wrong angle. The evolution of the (rock) guitar solo is--

    The 50s and 60s---
    Clean sounds; play the melody.
    A little dirtier but no real sustain. Play around the melody.
    Fuzztone! Feedback! Improvise!
    The Marshall Amp (heavenly choirs). Good tones and the blues scale. Heroes are born.

    The 70s- technique and tone is refined but nothing really changes until---
    EDDIE FUCKING VAN HALEN
    Tapping and fast licks
    New scales and modes are explored- someone opens a book on theory
    Classical styles come to the fore

    The 80s-
    Paths diverge, In pop, the solo becomes wanky and whammy bar based, or disappears.
    The real solos are in metal, which focus on classical modes of playing and speed speed speed.
    Until Slash says "fuck that", plugs his Les Paul into a Crybaby and a Marshall and we have- wait, the 70s again.

    Then the 90s and beyond---
    Nothing new ever happens again.

  13. #13
    First comment- He should've used a Strat instead of that tinny sounding Tele. Teles have their place, but not as a guitar that represents all others. He had some good picks (pun stumbled upon, not originally intended), but John Mayer? Puh-lease....... Give me a break here.

  14. #14
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerjo View Post
    Except of course for Chris Cornell. And didn't Soundgarden have solos? Well, they were an exception anyway.
    very true....probably one of the reasons why I like them. Soundgarden was an exception - but this was because they were out and already established during the '89-'93 corporate "Test Market for Next Big Thing" phase of musical history: their style of grunge was one of the guinea pigs. Its the post-'93 era of Rock that Im referring to - the bands that were constructed under the Pearl Jam blueprint with degrees of differences that gave them their own identity. (and, yes, there were a few exceptions here, like "Alice In Chains" , whose sound had their own subset of clone bands)

    But im talking about the Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Creed, Days Of The New, Staind, etc. family of bands that each had unique modifiers to the same generic blueprint (see checklist above)....

    STP was probably the best of all the "Yeahrrr....Yesseh!" bands: I personally thought the songwriting and musicianship showed that they were more than just a cliche. Even on an album like "Core", who's intent was to sound like Pearl Jam (see above checklist again), this was evident. By the time their third album "Tiny Music" came out, they were trying to push the envelope to do music on their own terms and shake off the cliche. The album didn't sell as well as the first two. Perhaps label and management pressure forced them to re-conform to the blueprint for "No. 4" but they still had the balls to put a few songs on it that deviated from the blueprint, like "Sour Girl". I like that

  15. #15
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Pride View Post
    ... and despite what that video would have you believe, it's gotten worse; finding a guitar solo (or any instrumental solo, for that matter) in a mainstream pop tune these days is like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Yeah, sometimes it's not necessary, but personally, I like some sort of instrumental interlude in a song; I just like a different texture than that wall-to-wall vocal thing provides. And besides, I'm a big fan of improvisation, doing it myself and listening to "the greats" do it. Is it still revelant in pop music? I can dream, can't I?!
    Yeah, I agree.......as a matter of fact, its gotten to the point of: If a new young band wants to try doing something different and unique in their pop music that sets them apart from the other pop bands, adding a solo section to a song would be one great way to do it.

  16. #16
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
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    Great video. Major kudos to that drummer for turning on a dime for each new song.

    But all you have to do to see what the 90s did to the guitar is look at Alex Lifeson and Rush. Even in the late 80s he was still providing leads and solos. Then the 90s hit and *wham* -- all chords all the time. It seems like it's only been recently that he's rediscovered what it means to be a lead player again.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by klothos View Post
    the "Yeahrrr....Yesseh!" bands
    One of my stupider jokes (which I've been telling since the Nineties):

    Q: What's this: "HeyYAAAAH, HoWAAAAH, Let's GoWAAAAHHHHH"?

    A: Pearl Jam covering the Ramones.

  18. #18
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    By the way, they are out there today -- theres just SO much music out there (oversaturation) that they seem non-existent, but they are there


  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by klothos View Post
    the '89-'93 corporate "Test Market for Next Big Thing" phase of musical history: their style of grunge was one of the guinea pigs.
    I was unaware that the Pacific Northwest indie-rock community was actually a corporate test market. Do you have a source on this?

    Also, Nirvana had lots of guitar solos. They're not super refined technically adept guitar solos (Cobain once said in an interview that he had to re-teach himself the Smells Like Teen Spirit solo on a regular basis), but they're there. It wasn't until the later 90s (post-Nirvana) when guitar solos largely disappeared from modern rock music.
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  20. #20
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arise_shine View Post
    I was unaware that the Pacific Northwest indie-rock community was actually a corporate test market. Do you have a source on this?
    No - but its kind of obvious: hair bands and jheri curl were going out by 1989...... Think of all the stuff that was coming out by then? The Seattle Sound was one (Soundgarden, etc), Funk-Metal/ Funk-Rock was another (RHCP, 24-7 Spyz, etc), Rap-Metal/Rap Rock (Infectious Grooves, etc), the new "Stoner" movement, alternative-pop and crossovers, and Prototype Post Hair Metal bands (Saigon Kick, Love-Hate, etc)...Even actual R&B bands that played instruments were being tried (Mint Condition, etc) as well as the plethora of "New Jack Swing" acts (Guy, Color Me Badd, etc). Even techno crossover bands (Jesus Jones) and Industrial Music was given a consideration (Epic Records signing Front 242 as the experiment, probably based on the success of Tren Reznor/NIN) I mean, you name it, it was being test-marketed by the Corporate Industry between 1989 and 1993. There was never a time since the 70s that so many acts of different genres were all over TV and radio. Once Nirvana broke and cemented the entire umbrella Grunge-Movement, all those other styles of bands started to disappear from the mainstream/ until their contracts expired and only few "outside-the-box" acts were signed to break up the monotony.

    This is the reason why '89 - 93 is one of my favorite periods of music and is really an "era" in its own right

    Quote Originally Posted by arise_shine View Post
    Also, Nirvana had lots of guitar solos. They're not super refined technically adept guitar solos (Cobain once said in an interview that he had to re-teach himself the Smells Like Teen Spirit solo on a regular basis), but they're there. It wasn't until the later 90s (post-Nirvana) when guitar solos largely disappeared from modern rock music.
    See my Post #7 above Checklist that addresses guitar solos
    Last edited by klothos; 09-25-2013 at 05:47 PM.

  21. #21
    So what do you mean by "test-market" anyway? I hear the term, and I think when McDonald's introduces a new menu item to a certain market to see how it'll do. I don't see how any of that was being done in the Seattle (or any other regional) scene. Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, from I understand, weren't a fabrication by the labels to "test the market," they were bands that reached a certain level of success so as to warrant a major-label contract. But if you mean that labels were branching out into new kinds of bands that had potential, then sure. Why wouldn't they, just like any other business? I just take issue with this idea the success of some of these bands were pure corporate fabrication. Nirvana did their thing, independent of what was expected of them, and their music happened to connect with lots of listeners (myself included).

    But you're right in that the late 80s and early 90s were great for new kinds of music getting airplay. I tune into modern rock radio once in a while, and it seems like there's not that much variety between different songs. And it seems like it takes longer for "tectonic shifts" to happen in modern rock like what happened through the early 90s. Instead of rock branching out, it seems like whatever diversity there is out in the mainstream there is among disparate genres (rock, acoustic/folk, R&B, rap, electronic, pop, metal, Latin). Outside the mainstream, though, there's all kinds of interesting things happening. Oddly, a lot of the new music that I hear that stands out to me as being "fresh" (or whatever) is stuff I hear at Qdoba or Panchero.

    Wow, I'm rambling.

    Also, Nirvana's guitar solos weren't just noise. The first three songs on Nevermind (all hit singles, by the way) each had melodic guitar solos. Granted, a lot of Nirvana songs' bridges had noise-ish guitar parts, but there was a lot of conventional soloing, too.
    flute juice

  22. #22
    Oh No! Bass Solo! klothos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arise_shine View Post
    So what do you mean by "test-market" anyway? I hear the term, and I think when McDonald's introduces a new menu item to a certain market to see how it'll do. I don't see how any of that was being done in the Seattle (or any other regional) scene. Soundgarden and Alice in Chains, from I understand, weren't a fabrication by the labels to "test the market," they were bands that reached a certain level of success so as to warrant a major-label contract. But if you mean that labels were branching out into new kinds of bands that had potential, then sure. Why wouldn't they, just like any other business? I just take issue with this idea the success of some of these bands were pure corporate fabrication. Nirvana did their thing, independent of what was expected of them, and their music happened to connect with lots of listeners (myself included).

    But you're right in that the late 80s and early 90s were great for new kinds of music getting airplay. I tune into modern rock radio once in a while, and it seems like there's not that much variety between different songs. And it seems like it takes longer for "tectonic shifts" to happen in modern rock like what happened through the early 90s. Instead of rock branching out, it seems like whatever diversity there is out in the mainstream there is among disparate genres (rock, acoustic/folk, R&B, rap, electronic, pop, metal, Latin). Outside the mainstream, though, there's all kinds of interesting things happening. Oddly, a lot of the new music that I hear that stands out to me as being "fresh" (or whatever) is stuff I hear at Qdoba or Panchero.

    Wow, I'm rambling.

    Also, Nirvana's guitar solos weren't just noise. The first three songs on Nevermind (all hit singles, by the way) each had melodic guitar solos. Granted, a lot of Nirvana songs' bridges had noise-ish guitar parts, but there was a lot of conventional soloing, too.
    There is no need to take issue with saying "pre-fab" because I didn't say that By Test-Marketing, it is as in Test-market the next big musical trend by what was already available and already out there. Most of these progressionist acts already existed in the underground and niche markets - there was no need to "pre-fab" anything and these are where the Corporate mainstream was pulling from: Hence, the great era between 1989-1993

    And the point about solos still stands with Nirvana: Kurt Cobain still wrote within the parameters of the Grunge trend. Even if he wanted to put a pinch-harmonic in a song, or write a happy melodic pop song, or some other non-genre specific attribute, his producers, label, or manager would have made him change it......But nobody ever told John Lennon and Paul McCartney to stay within any parameters when they wrote: They just wrote what they felt, and this is why their body of work is all over the genre map. This is one of the reasons why many people like many bands of the 60s & 70s....The 80s(in general) got real formulaic but it was obvious. The 90s(in general), however, was probably just as formulaic as the 80s but the difference was that it was heavily disguised as "indie- we-do-what-we-want" music
    Last edited by klothos; 09-26-2013 at 11:54 PM.

  23. #23
    Banned Dave (in MA)'s Avatar
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    Member Jerjo's Avatar
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    But nobody ever told John Lennon and Paul McCartney to stay within any parameters when they wrote: They just wrote what they felt, and this is why their body of work is all over the genre map.
    This will always be the benchmark for me of a truly great band.
    I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means 'put down.'- Bob Newhart

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