How do you go about creating your own solo arrangement of a classic song

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guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
in Technique tFB Trader
So I was looking at learning to play a solo arrangement of Desperado - Kind of in a poor man's Tony Emmanuel way - So not just wanting to strum away the chords, or indeed just play the single note lead line - So found one or two good examples, with appropriate tab, via YouTube clips - However both are more finger picking style and my technique is no were near good enough to copy such arrangements 

So the question is, based on having the solo/lead/melody line and indeed the chords, do I create my own arrangement, that suits my ability/technique and start from scratch - Or borrow ideas from the video clips, but ultimately add or indeed subtract, phrases/parts that don't suit me and my ability

see below the arrangement I like and feel I can handle most of this, in due course - So do you copy this, or create your own - If the latter how do you go about it - Thanks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oJPSF0UzsI
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Comments

  • stufisherstufisher Frets: 909
    Here's one I roughed out earlier Mark ... as you can see it's far from perfect but it has potential :lol: 


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  • slackerslacker Frets: 2290
    I dabble with kind of stuff, so simple advice until someone better comes along.

    A lot of melody lines are contained in the chords. Use them as much as possible. Some aren't. I switch the other way. Instead of playing the chord and finding a melody, play that and find an inversion or simply find a note to accompany it.

    I find it helpful to breakdown the parts. Keep playing the first bit. Stuff like the clip sound simple but it takes a lot of work to get there. If you live with people and they don't shout at you you're not practising it enough.
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    Are you keeping a pick in your hand or going full fingerstyle?
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    Just had a play with this...


    All I'm thinking here is: how do I put the melody over in a human manner...and where are the nearest chord voicings/fragments?

    Thought I'd start with the bright piano hook in higher register...then follow the melody down to where the vocal will come in.
    Then I noticed I was playing a bass figure that had the following rhythm (in eighth notes): '1 2 3 1 2 3 rest rest'...so I made sure I stuck to that in order to give the intro some definition.
    Once I came down into the verse, I used a solid quarter note rhythm on the bass and really thinned things out...no rush to add harmony at this point...also no rush to add the lower notes yet. If you're arranging for solo guitar, you need to save stuff for later in order to avoid repetition.

    It really helps to sketch it out while you're developing it.
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    ...
    So the question is, based on having the solo/lead/melody line and indeed the chords, do I create my own arrangement, that suits my ability/technique and start from scratch - Or borrow ideas from the video clips, but ultimately add or indeed subtract, phrases/parts that don't suit me and my ability
    ...
    I didn't directly address your question...
    Yes, all of the above...start with an intimate knowledge of the recording, the melody, the chords...options for where you might voice the chords. Then create your own intro...then rip-off every version you can find...keep refining yours.

    What don't I like about your chosen arrangement?
    • it pretty much stays in the same range, same rhythm, same 'density'
    • too many open strings (which is a weird thing to say about an acoustic guitar piece)
    • too many repeated notes...can sound clumsy...one of the pitfalls of slavishly arranging vocal lines
    • stop/start percussive thumb stuff...fkn stop it!
    It is a solid basis to start from though ;)
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  • vizviz Frets: 10788
    Guitars4u that was absolutely lovely. 
    Roland said: Scales are primarily a tool for categorising knowledge, not a rule for what can or cannot be played.
    Supportact said: [my style is] probably more an accumulation of limitations and bad habits than a 'style'.
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
    tFB Trader
    Are you keeping a pick in your hand or going full fingerstyle?
    Still use a pick - Probably easier to show then describe, but if I'm playing a chord/melody at the same time, so playing across 2/3/4 consecutive strings, at the same time then I tend to use the pick - If say a bass note and 2/3 melody notes on say EBG strings then I tend to pick the bass note and use 2/3 fingers for the melody notes - Hope that makes sense - Probably a concocted approach, from years of playing, rather than a constructive taught process
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
    tFB Trader
    Thanks for the above tab idea @digitalkettle ; - I think I can see where you are coming from - Sometimes I find a 'tab' version of say Summertime, or Amazing Grace, that I can work with and then adapt to suit my technique, so not starting from scratch - Then I sometimes find I need to enrich the arrangement as I run out of my own ideas - Easy enough to play a chord backing, on its own and even a 'Hank' style solo melody format - It is trying to blend them, so as I mentioned earlier do you start from scratch, or copy/amend another players ideas - I suppose we all take something from someone

    I can see what you have done above and could handle such ideas


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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
    tFB Trader
    On many songs, the difference between the first, second and third voice is the words - Yes the arrangement will add 'atmosphere' and tension somehow - But essentially the melody is often the same/similar - So when you play a chord/melody solo arrangement you loose the option of the words - As such easy to make all 3 verses sound the same and boring  - So there is a need to break this up - Easy option is to play a solo, around the melody to keep it familiar (ie Carpenters Good Buy To Love format) - But what I tend to do, and believe Tony Emmanuel and indeed Chet Atkins do, is to move into another song - create a medley of 2/3 songs into a song - Hope that makes sense
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    Are you keeping a pick in your hand or going full fingerstyle?
    Still use a pick - Probably easier to show then describe, but if I'm playing a chord/melody at the same time, so playing across 2/3/4 consecutive strings, at the same time then I tend to use the pick - If say a bass note and 2/3 melody notes on say EBG strings then I tend to pick the bass note and use 2/3 fingers for the melody notes - Hope that makes sense - Probably a concocted approach, from years of playing, rather than a constructive taught process
    Hybrid approach...totally useable...although you do lose your index finger...although you can employ your little finger if you're desperate to make up for it ;)
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    On many songs, the difference between the first, second and third voice is the words - Yes the arrangement will add 'atmosphere' and tension somehow - But essentially the melody is often the same/similar - So when you play a chord/melody solo arrangement you loose the option of the words - As such easy to make all 3 verses sound the same and boring  - So there is a need to break this up - Easy option is to play a solo, around the melody to keep it familiar (ie Carpenters Good Buy To Love format) - But what I tend to do, and believe Tony Emmanuel and indeed Chet Atkins do, is to move into another song - create a medley of 2/3 songs into a song - Hope that makes sense
    Medleys or even a simple key change would break things up.

    In classical stuff, you often see repeat sections presented:
    • in different registers
    • with different articulation (e.g. melody line entirely in harmonics)
    • with added flare/ornamentation
    For a less traditional angle, I like the way Andy Timmons approaches the subject...this is an off-the-cuff recital of Bo'Rap...bit rough and ready in places as should be expected (start at 0:31):


    His 'Andy Timmons Band Plays Sgt Pepper' album is well worth checking out. I think it's a three-piece band...entirely instrumental...so he's covering a lot of ground.
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 2229
    I did a strummy version of Desperado for one of the cover challenges way back. I ended up notating it in Guitar Pro as I went along to help me work it out and remember it. It took bloody ages. I've totally forgotten it now :)




    https://i.imgur.com/W1mBKOQ.png

    https://i.imgur.com/HsCK0Vt.png


    It's not a competition.
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  • RockerRocker Frets: 5055
    The OP has my sympathy on this question.  The 'problem' with Desperado, and others of a similar ilk, is that it is a song.  The lyrics tell a story, the story is very capably supported by the backing musicians.  Despite the amazing rendition above by @stratman3142, as an instrumental piece it does not hold up IMHO.  It is a bit like Bohemian Rhapsody instrumental versions that are on YouTube, you listen and are very impressed at the skill level but, after the initial Wow, it is unlikely that you will play it again more than a couple of times.  Certainly it will not go on your play list.

    Some time ago I tried to learn a passable version of Desperado.  The guitar is a poor substitute for the piano parts, my lack of playing skill did not help, in the end I gave up on it.  There are lots of singers in our family music get togethers but we decided to leave it aside for the time being, it is consigned to the 'work in progress' song listing. 
    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. [Albert Einstein]

    Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
    tFB Trader
    Rocker said:
    The OP has my sympathy on this question.  The 'problem' with Desperado, and others of a similar ilk, is that it is a song.  The lyrics tell a story, the story is very capably supported by the backing musicians.  Despite the amazing rendition above by @stratman3142, as an instrumental piece it does not hold up IMHO.  It is a bit like Bohemian Rhapsody instrumental versions that are on YouTube, you listen and are very impressed at the skill level but, after the initial Wow, it is unlikely that you will play it again more than a couple of times.  Certainly it will not go on your play list.

    Some time ago I tried to learn a passable version of Desperado.  The guitar is a poor substitute for the piano parts, my lack of playing skill did not help, in the end I gave up on it.  There are lots of singers in our family music get togethers but we decided to leave it aside for the time being, it is consigned to the 'work in progress' song listing. 
    Interesting thoughts and I agree with you - Add to that the emotion in Don's voice

    For about 20 years now I've tried to play a similar 'solo arrangement' of Girl From Ipanema - How can you capture the emotion of Astrud's voice, let alone Stan's sax solo - In simple terms she is describing a stunning body walking along a sun drenched broad walk - the sway of the hips etc etc of a beautiful body - I can't get close to capturing this emotion - My effort is best described as watching Vera Duckworth walking along Blackpool prom, wearing grey towelling leggings on a wet dirty day - Spoke to my dad about this, as he was good sax player and he knew where I was coming from - The notes are the easy bit to play - It is capturing that soul, emotion, timing and phrasing 
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
    tFB Trader

    Rocker said:
    The OP has my sympathy on this question.  The 'problem' with Desperado, and others of a similar ilk, is that it is a song.  The lyrics tell a story, the story is very capably supported by the backing musicians.  Despite the amazing rendition above by @stratman3142, as an instrumental piece it does not hold up IMHO.  
    Add to this - About 40 years ago, a very good friend and customer of mine died at a very young age - They played Desperado at his funeral - In 1996 I saw the Eagles at Wembley on a warm July night - For the encore, Don came out on his own and played Desperado - Just him and the piano - I was in tears listening to his soul, emotion, the hot Wembley night and thinking about my old friend/customer - That song just captures so much emotion and my my technique/ability won't deliver what I'm hearing - But nevertheless I will sooner, rather than later capture my version
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  • JonnyBgoodeJonnyBgoode Frets: 118
    Rocker said:
    The OP has my sympathy on this question.  The 'problem' with Desperado, and others of a similar ilk, is that it is a song.  The lyrics tell a story, the story is very capably supported by the backing musicians. 
    As a gigging classical/Spanish guitarist I was often asked for custom arrangements of popular songs for the bride's entry at weddings. Many times I had to explain why their choice just wouldn't work as a solo classical guitar piece. I remember once being asked for a power ballad by Adele, they were big fans obviously, and  I managed to convince them that whilst I could happily arrange the melody and harmony into something they would recognise, everything they loved about the song would be entirely lost, because her music is *all* about the voice.

    Having said that, I am often blown away by solo arrangements of songs and how clever the arranger has been in capturing all of the essential harmony for solo guitar with something that flows well under the fingers. A few years back I bumped into the guy who arranged the theme from MASH (Suicide is Painless - more theme than 'song'?) for Total Guitar in its early days. Awesome job and I went up to tell him so (a few beers does this).

    For me it depends on the song I guess.  Sorry guitars4you for digression and yeah The Girl from Ipanema is a tough choice  too!






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  • RolandRoland Frets: 8890
    The Girl From Ipanema works well. Most of the melody sits on the top string.
    Tree recycler, and guitarist with  https://www.undercoversband.com/.
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 14953
    tFB Trader
    Roland said:
    The Girl From Ipanema works well. Most of the melody sits on the top string.
    It is not playing the note(s) I have an issue with- It is trying to play it with the emotion I can ‘hear in my thought’ but not in my ears/performance
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  • digitalkettledigitalkettle Frets: 3394
    Roland said:
    The Girl From Ipanema works well. Most of the melody sits on the top string.
    It is not playing the note(s) I have an issue with- It is trying to play it with the emotion I can ‘hear in my thought’ but not in my ears/performance
    Pull some faces!
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