Using Motifs to Make Your Guitar Solos Memorable

Using Motifs to Make Your Guitar Solos Memorable

Are guitar solos all about shredding? They can be, but there’s something to be said for a solo that catches your ear with a great hook. Today our friend Blake Miller talks a bit about why motifs are important in solos, and how to use them in your own playing.

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Today we’re going to be talking about creating motifs within your solo work. Today I’m gonna be taking a song that I did with Steven Dunn, off an album called Indianola. The song is called Picture Imperfect. We’re going to work on creating just, even if it’s a three-note phrase, creating good ideas and singable ideas that are maybe catchy and people will remember throughout the solo.

It’s not always about speed, sometimes it’s about note choice. So the chord progression is E, with a seventh, D, G, and then C. We’re going to try to create a loop here, and show you kind of what this looks like and sounds like. Again, you can always vary it up yourself, but these are just jumping off points for you to create, inspire hopefully some different things in your lead work. So here we go.

(soloing ensues)

So what we’re doing there is we’re just taking part of the pentatonic scale in the key of E, so the pentatonic is E, G, A, B, and D. What I’m focusing on is actually the root note E, playing a G and the A, and just creating different ideas and phrasing and voicings over that chord progression. And when we play three notes, we’re using that bend and vibrato to make that stand out a little bit more.

Where you play the motif is based on the dynamic of the song, the feel of the song, maybe what the band’s doing. But the idea is that motifs like that one are singable things. Things that you can hear. That’s a classic blues riff, right?

The other motif we’re using is just going between the D and the E, in between runs and phrases. It’s not always about going fast, but when you do this, D to E is a very common thing within that pentatonic scale, just come up with different ways to keep it varied. Maybe slow it down a bit and play over a chord progression you’re familiar with. In this case, for me, it was that song and try to use slightly different techniques over it. Vibrato. Bending. Pull offs and hammer ons are a great way to make it sound like you’re playing more than you are, for example.

3 Responses

  1. I play a Lowden O23. I switched from Elixir to Stringjoy last year. I ordered 2 sets of Natural Bronze Light Gauge and gave one to my recording partner, who also plays a Lowden O23. I would like to get your opinion of perhaps going to a custom set. I am a finger style player, no picks, just nails. He is also finger style, but does use a flat pick as well. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

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