The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Solos and Improvisation

You’re no idiot, of course. You’re a talented musician and you know how to really work your instrument. But when it comes to improvising, you freeze! Out of all the scales and chords in the world, how do you figure out which notes to play when it’s time to take a solo?

Never fear. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Solos and Improvisation will show you how to improvise great melodies over any chord progression. In this easy-to-read book you get:

  • The elements of musical improvisation, including chord theory, progressions, scales, modes, melodies, intervals, and phrasing
  • Advice for any instrument and style from jazz trumpet to rock guitar
  • Tips on training your ears to pick up on a chord progression and immediately improvise
  • More than 650 patterns you can apply to different chords — as well as hundreds of rhythmic variations
  • Interviews with professional musicians from the worlds of rock and jazz

Tap into your creative stream! Here’s more of what you’ll find in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Solos and Improvisation:

  • Learn which intervals to play within specific scales
  • Liven up your solos with different articulations and rhythms
  • Examine different forms of soloing — including trading fours and improvising behind the melody
  • Make ’em weep when you improvise the blues
  • Understand how major and minor scales fit chords and chord progressions
  • Transcribe solos from your favorite songs and musicians

Corrections and Clarifications

As happens with any printed work, a few errors slipped into the first printing of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Solos and Improvisation. Here are the known mistakes and confusing passages in the book:

  • Chapter 6, p. 50: In the section on half-diminished sevenths, the seventh is actually a major third above the flatted fifth.
  • Chapter 7, p. 64: In the paragraph before the first example, it should say that the solo sounds more like “two-bar solo than two one-bar solos played in succession.”
  • Chapter 7, p. 64: In the discussion of leading tones, what I call leading tones, some music theory experts call tendency tones. I prefer the leading tone description, as these tones do indeed lead to other tones in the next chord. But if you’re a stickler or have previously learned about tendency tones, use that descriptor instead.
  • Chapter 8, p. 85: In the first paragraph, the C major pentatonic scale should actually be C-D-E-G-A. Also, on the same page, in the Note about John Coltrane, his variation of the minor pentatonic scale should go 1-2-flatted 3-5-6; in the key of C, that’s C-D-Eb-G-A.
  • Chapter 9, p. 97: In the table, the entry for diminished 7 chords, you can play the Locrian mode, which is sometimes called the diminished scale.
  • Chapter 15, p. 172: Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” organ solo was played by Matthew Fisher, not Gary Brooker.
  • Glossary, p. 208: The entry for diminished chord is incorrect. A diminished chord is one with a minor third and a diminished fifth.
  • Appendix B, pp. 214-216: For some reason, there are no guitar chord fingerings above the M9 chords.

Author: Michael Miller

Publisher: Alpha Books

Published: August 2004

Price: $16.95

Page count: 230 pp.

ISBN: 1592572103

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