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Learn how to solo by studying Julian Pollack

Let's learn the Secrets of performing amazing solos by studying artists such as Julian, aka J3PO, and how he constructs a solo. 

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Julian Pollack is a musician who deftly balances virtuosity with tenderness...

- Timeout NewYork

In this post we will focus on this incredible solo, how to play the song, and how the lines were constructed

First, let's listen to the Solo

 

You need to transcribe the solo

I generally transcribe a solo by ear and I listen for three things

  1. Scales - Do I recognize any scales. I listen for the altered scale because many musicians like to improvise from the altered scale
  2. Chromaticism - I listen for half-step movements. They are easy to do quickly if you need to connect scales together
  3. Chord Tones - If it sounds like they are using arpeggios, I listen for chord tones, do the notes form a chord?

Check this example, Ive looped it 3 times

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The notes to this line starting from the Bflat descending are:

Bb-A-Ab-G-F-Eb-B-Bb-Ab-G-F-Eb-B-Bb-Ab-F-F#-G

When I first listened to this I thought it was the Altered Scale. Or a variation of the G Altered scale. And at some level that is correct. Here is the G altered Scale

G Altered Scale: G-Ab-Bb-B-Db-Eb-F-G

Most of the notes that are used in the video above use notes within this scale. Plus the fact that the scale is used over a G7#9#5 also strongly suggest that a GAlt Scale is being used

However, if you listen closely you will notice there is an additional note in between the Bb and the Ab going down. [Play the video above again]

Do you hear it?

There is an 'A' between the Bb and the Ab, this doesnt mean that he is not using the Altered Scale, it means that he is introducing chromaticism within the altered scale

 

He Is Using Chromaticism within the Altered Scale

Chromaticism when a musician uses a series of half-steps during melodic movements

But don't forget CHORD TONES!

What are Chord Tones??

Chord tones are when you play notes that make up a chord... instead of playing them together you play the notes one at a time

For instance...

If I play D-F-Ab-C together, I am playing a Dmin5b

But If I play those notes in order, then I am using Chord Tones, and it will sound like the video below

But once you know the notes you still have to play it

It's not enough to play know the notes, when I practice I try to play along with him. This is how I show the notes on the screen on hundreds of videos on my channel. I have to play along with the artist until it sounds as close to them as possible. Sometimes that can take minutes, hours,...

Take 1

Take 2

  • Roger Percival says:

    You are an awesome teacher

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