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  1. #21
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by MyMartinTenor View Post
    I play ALL THE TIME with guitar players. Someone called a song in Bb the other day trying to be nice to me and I played the worst solo I hit all night. I'm more used to concert E now than concert F. Sad..


    When it comes to improvising and playing by ear, the only hard keys are the ones you don't play in regularly. 7 sharps or 1 sharp doesn't matter unless you're reading the music. In any case, it's best to play in as many keys as possible. I play with lots of guitar players also and the better guitarists will call keys like Bb, F, Ab. But you need to play in E, G, A, B, and D just as often with guitarists. Bottom line, you need to know all the keys.

  2. #22

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Thanks for the responses everyone. It appears to be just as I suspected: I'll just have to get it under my fingers. I guess I'll mainly stick to the major pentatonics, as the song isn't especially bluesy.
    Also, my tone on alto (or tenor, for that matter) isn't very "edgy", which is a quality I appreciate in rock playing. I am largely a classical player on alto... I can swap to some V16 reeds and use my other mouthpiece, a stock Yamaha (as opposed to my selmer C* for classical), which will help volume. Is there anything I can do to try and sound more like a rock player?

  3. #23

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Get a C-Tenor... Concert A= Easy. Boom.

  4. #24
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Yes, the easy route is to stick to major pentatonic, but throw in a few minor 3rds. The F# pentatonic is quite easy if you use the bis key.

    I would recommend you try doing some growls, but mostly try playing along with that and other rock solos to get the inflections. I don't mean necessarily playing along note for note, just play phrases along with the tracks. Try copying a few or just throwing in some simple pentatonic phrases of your owm but keep listening to the players 's phrasing, articulation, embellishments, vibrato, bends etc. and copy when you can.

  5. #25
    Distinguished SOTW Member RandyJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    There are no "bad" keys!

  6. #26

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    again -- no bad keys .. just unfamiliar or less comfortable keys
    ... this solo would be f# (Minor) blues (on alto) .. no where near as hard as f# major ( with all the sharps) and so very common for popular rock .. learn your pentatonic and minor blues scales in A,B,F#,E and C# (Db) .. and you will likely have >95% of the typical rock covered -- those are the favored guitar keys. -- so for this tune just tool around with f#, a,b,c#,e and an occasional c to start.

    In time these will become your friend too.

    Good Luck!

    Also for a lot of rock (or old R&B) .. less is more ( at least for # of notes ) ..this song ( and the sax solo ) is funky .. start out with less and slowly add. as you get comfortable and have fun.

  7. #27

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    What are "bad keys?" There are more difficult keys than others but they all have their own character. In rock music you'll more often than not be playing with concert pitch instruments, especially guitars, who favor the open string chords such as F#, B or E, and sometimes C#. Your knowledge of the circle of fifths will serve you well.

    The I - IV - V progression is a good thing to know in all 12 keys in major and vi - ii - iii in all the minor keys. Intellectual knowledge is good but don't forget to listen!, to yourself as well as what everyone else is doing. It's not how many notes you can play fast but it's when, and how, you play them. When it's your turn to solo it is up to the other band members to observe an appropriate etiquette and to "lay back" for you.

  8. #28

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Is it a rock solo or fast funk? The bpm is about 120 but the beat doesn't 'swing' I don't think, and the sax solo sounds like pure funk. I'm thinking it's funk, and funk is a different animal than jazz or rock or blues. Great solo, I'm going to study it as I'm trying to get up to speed on funk.

    I think the best bet for your upcoming solo would be to absorb as much of the solo on the vid as possible, and wing it or maybe re-write a simpler one for the show.

  9. #29
    Indistinguishable Resident Buescher Bigot and 2014 Forum Contributor maddenma's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by Ficalos View Post
    So I'm a high school junior (17), and have been playing saxophone for about 6 years now. I play all the saxes and clarinet pretty well, and can hold my own in a solo in most jazz-type situations.
    Every year, my school holds a student led rock-type concert. This year, I'm creating and leading the horn section. I've already written all the charts and that's going well. However, one song they want to do involves me playing a rock solo in the key of concert A. I originally wanted to do it on tenor, so it would be in B (5 sharps), but I found out that the original is played on alto, and my altissimo isn't very good on tenor, limiting my high range. On alto, it's in the key of F# (6 sharps).

    I've never played rock before, but have listened to some. I have also never improvised in that key before. I can play a solid solo, but mostly only in Bb, F, C, G, and D (A's not that bad either). But F#? Not so sure...

    What should I do? I've already transcribed the original solo, which I think is very good, and can play it almost on sight, but I don't know if I can memorize it with only 2 weeks till showtime (I don't want to read music on stage).

    Suggestions?

    Here's the song:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ut8WiJltj0

    The solo I transcribed is slightly different from the one in the video, but some parts are the same.
    And your problem is?

    If you're going to play rock, jazz, or anything else for that matter, do what you need to do to get comfortable in B, F#, and C# -- minor and major. Those aren't uncomfortable keys if you've done what you need to do to get used to playing in them.

    Yeah, it's not F-concert that you're used to playing in with the HS band, but it's what you have to do now.
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  10. #30

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by Ficalos View Post
    Also, my tone on alto (or tenor, for that matter) isn't very "edgy", which is a quality I appreciate in rock playing. I am largely a classical player on alto... I can swap to some V16 reeds and use my other mouthpiece, a stock Yamaha (as opposed to my selmer C* for classical), which will help volume. Is there anything I can do to try and sound more like a rock player?
    Ficalos,

    First it was the difficult keys, now your worried about your tone and volume level. At this point you better find yourself a zebra skin coat and some leopard shoes, and at least look the part ! Besides, you don't want to be a classical sax player anyway.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by maddenma View Post
    If you're going to play rock, jazz, or anything else for that matter, do what you need to do to get comfortable in B, F#, and C# -- minor and major. Those aren't uncomfortable keys if you've done what you need to do to get used to playing in them..
    Just to avoid any confusion, I assume you're now talking in the sax key, correct? So the actual concert keys here are A, E, and B. I think you can add concert G, D, and C to the list for playing rock/blues/funk. Then also add in concert Bb, Eb, Ab, and F if you're playing some jump blues, swing, and any jazz. That's most of the keys right there. The only two keys that I don't run into much are concert F# and Db. Those seem to be pretty rare as tonal centers, but you still want to know them and the chords built on those tones will occur in other keys.

    I realize this is a sax site and we'll often talk in the sax key, but it's a good idea to make that clear. And NEVER, ever refer to anything but concert key on the bandstand, especially when talking to a guitarist!! In fact I always talk in concert key on the bandstand even when talking to other horn players. It avoids confusion and you get used to it.

  12. #32

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Concert A Rock Solo on alto translates nicely to F# minor pentatonic! (F# A B C# E) As already mentioned, it's a great key. It lays under the fingers very nicely.

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    To the OP, LISTEN to Leroi's solo over and over, and then listen to it some more, get to the point where you have a little radio inside your head playing that solo around the clock. The first 6 bars he only plays 4 notes, the tricky part is the bouncy rythym in which he plays those 4 notes. If you have the F# scale under your fingers and that solo in your head, I think you have a great shot at pulling off a nice solo. Don't try and absorb too much, if you can hear it in your head you can play it.
    Finnerski

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by MyMartinTenor View Post
    I play ALL THE TIME with guitar players. Someone called a song in Bb the other day trying to be nice to me and I played the worst solo I hit all night. I'm more used to concert E now than concert F. Sad.

    No tricks, no gimmicks. Keep playing that solo, and keep playing in that key, 'til it feels like home.
    That's the truth!!! Last night I was at the local community swing band rehearsal and couldn't solo in F, G or even C!! It pretty well sucked.

    With regard to the OP's dilema, there's no quick answer. Learn the pentatonic notes for now, and you'll get a feel for what works. In the future practice those keys with just as much gusto as the 'easy' ones. Years ago I took in a master class from Phil Woods when he was making the rounds through the West Coast Colleges. After playing Confirmation in 12 keys (he showed us that it could be done), his words were incredibly profound---"you bought the instrument, and it has all those keys, you might as well use them."
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  15. #35
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by playatsax View Post
    That's the truth!!! Last night I was at the local community swing band rehearsal and couldn't solo in F, G or even C!! It pretty well sucked.
    Not to belabor the point, while I realize guitarists like to play in open string keys like concert E, I have played numerous blues tunes with guitarists in F, G, C, and Bb. I've yet to meet a half-way decent guitarist who doesn't play in those keys. And if you check out some classic blues recordings by guys like B.B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Bobby Blue Bland, etc, you'll find a lot of tunes in these keys (F and G are especially common, but so are Bb, Ab, & C). I have to wonder who you guys are playing with???

    Back to the OP, one thing to understand about the solo on that funk tune is that it's all about the rhythm and phrasing. The notes are based largely on pentatonics & blues scale, and while you need to stay in key and pay attention to what notes you're playing, by far the most important thing is how you play those notes, rhythmically.

  16. #36

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    There is another version of the tune here ....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3Tx-TbPUko

    and the solo ain't movin me too much until ..... 4:24 in when the guy plays an absolutely great 'lick' .... I'm gonna try to transcribe it.... i suggest you do the same....

  17. #37

    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    Quote Originally Posted by DrWill View Post
    There is another version of the tune here ....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3Tx-TbPUko

    and the solo ain't movin me too much until ..... 4:24 in when the guy plays an absolutely great 'lick' .... I'm gonna try to transcribe it.... i suggest you do the same....
    Wow, I hadn't heard that version, but I like it! I think I may be able to pull off something like the beginning of the solo, with lots of repetitive figures and showy stuff that really isn't that hard to do. The lick at 4:24 is great, a nice bebop-feeling interlude from all the funky stuff. I don't think I can pull it off though.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    now good luck trying to find a drummer as good as Carter Beauford!

  19. #39
    Distinguished SOTW Member The Saxist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    "Don't make me play in guitar keys baby;
    Guitar keys, I hate em, yeah..."

    Now on ITunes and CDBaby
    Infinity had to start somewhere...

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Help with rock solo in bad key

    F# blues F# A B C C# E... ...
    I am on alto and started playing in rock bands where almost every song is in E MAJOR, A MAJOR and B MAJOR. Through constant playing, even these keys can get familiar.
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