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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Target Notes (chord tones) question

phil lassiter


Don't blow your top,I'm leaving town.
Aug 22nd, 2017 07:06 AM   Edit   Profile  

I know what a chord tone means,but I am not clear on this point.If your playing a lead solo part whether it be an extended solo or licks, when the chord changes should the first solo note you play be a chord tone?Or resolve a phrase using a chord tone over that chord.

Contributing Member

The rain sounds like

a round of applause
Aug 22nd, 2017 02:54 PM   Edit   Profile  

Hmmm, I'm no expert, but I think it depends on the style of music you're playing.

I would think you could start on any note you like, as long as you don't get too "outside."

If your bass player is staying fairly simple and outlining the chord tones, you can...'explore the space'.


U.S. - Virginia

Aug 22nd, 2017 08:13 PM   Edit   Profile  

Good wisdom to live by, from Peegoo.

Really, of course there are no rules... but in the jazz world(the traditional one) it was advised to play chord tones when soloing on the beat. At least for starters. So 1,3,5,7 intervals there. If you play arpeggios over the chords and just play quarter notes, you'll achieve this. Then, play the scale over the chord in eighth notes. The chord tones still fall on the beat, with the intervals in between (2(9),3(10),4(11),6(13),8(octave)).

But as long as you have taste developed by listening to lots of solos and music you love, trust your ears. They will be thing thing that need to guide you the whole way in reality.


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Aug 23rd, 2017 07:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

It's not just a question of whether to land on a chord tone or non-chord tones. It also depends on how stable or unstable you want to be.

If you land on the 1 of a chord, then it sounds very resolved and solid, but kinda boring and unsophisticated.

Landing on the 3 is often a good idea, because it defines the flavor of the chord.

Landing on the 5 is usually pretty weak, and not a good idea, as it really doesn't help define the chord.

Landing on the 7 is tense, and wants to resolve. So that's often a good choice.

Landing on non-chord tones (2/9, 4/11, 6/13) are "jazzier", and also make your ear want resolution, with varying degrees of tension. Make sure you sound like you mean it when hitting these notes! Though, usually in soloing, the 4/11 is an avoid note. It's extremely weak in defining the chord, unless it's being comped underneath.

Of course, you could also choose to land on altered tensions, like a b9 or #9 or #11 or b13. Even more tension and need for resolution!

So, when the chord changes, if you want to really feel at home, go for a chord tone. But if you want to delay the resolution and prolong some tension, then go for another note and resolve it later (or never!). But as said above, it does need to fit the style. Some notes will sound great for jazz, but really out of place in pop/rock.

Tip: a good trick is to keep emphasizing a certain note, whose function changes as the chords change, so it gets tense and resolves on its own.

(This message was last edited by gdw3 at 04:23 PM, Aug 25th, 2017)

Contributing Member


Too Much GAS
Aug 28th, 2017 04:17 PM   Edit   Profile  

"So, when the chord changes, if you want to really feel at home, go for a chord tone. But if you want to delay the resolution and prolong some tension, then go for another note and resolve it later (or never!)."

This is kind of where I'm coming from. For me, it's all about where the melodic sense of the solo is going, when, and where, it's going to end. If it's an 8 bar solo and you're into the first chord change then anything goes as long as it fits because to solo is still ongoing. Early in a solo I try and gravitate to 3rds, 5ths, or 6ths, at the end of phrases because the solo is moving on to another part and I don't want it to resolve yet and sound like the end. As far as staying on a chord tone at the beginning of phrases goes, it's always a good idea but that is very subjective and not that simple. Again, for me, I tend to think more in terms of rhythmic and melodic motifs that may repeat or be reinterpreted along the way to maintain a melodic characteristic. I don't really think about it while I'm playing. It just happens.

I don't know if that makes any sense or not. That's something that's hard to put into words. It just happens as a result of being the guitar player who always had to take the solos for decades on end.

My old honkey tonk guitar playing uncle, God Rest His Soul, once told me, "If you have to solo and don't know what to play, use the melody. It always works." I have always taken that to heart and while I may not play the melody verbatim I may use parts of it and inject its rhythms into what I'm doing.

(This message was last edited by ninworks at 01:11 PM, Aug 29th, 2017)


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Aug 29th, 2017 11:29 AM   Edit   Profile  

Absolutely. Quoting the melody is a tried and true method of getting into a solo. Look at Nirvana's "Teen Spirit". ALL he does is play the melody. And it works!

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Target Notes (chord tones) question

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