Created By: jaytee on April 18, 2011 Last Edited By: jaytee on September 11, 2011

Guitar Solo

The guitar takes the lead while other instruments are reduced to accompaniment.

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Main
Page Type:
Trope
Needs a Better Description, Needs More Examples, Needs a Better Title, Rolling Updates

Is this getting close to launch? Do we want to wait to add more examples? Or should we axe the example list altogether? Can anyone think of any more In-Universe examples?

You're onstage, shredding the guitar and rocking the crowd's face off. You just finished the second chorus, the audience is pumped; where do you take the song from here?

Guitar Solo.

You've probably heard one before. You already know what it is. The lead singer steps back from the mic while the bass and drums lock into a pattern. The guitarist takes center stage and lets loose the fury of hell.

Guitar solos are one of the most common tropes in rock music and are considered mandatory in certain subgenres. The guitar solo isn't limited to rock music or even electric guitars either; it can be heard in innumerable forms and in almost every modern popular music style.

Guitar solos come in all different forms. It is fairly common for the guitarist to improvise some or all of his solo. This is taken to its logical end by jam bands like The Grateful Dead, whose live performances can include incredibly long, fully improvised solos. On the other side of the spectrum, we have pop songs with 100% composed guitar solos, sometimes simply repeating the vocal melody on guitar.

The guitar solo can also reflect all different levels of difficulty and skill. Some punk bands, from time to time, will have an "anti-solo" consisting of one note. However, guitarists confident in their skill will take the opportunity to show how Bad Ass they are and unleash something truly impressive.

Related to Epic Riff, Epic Rocking.

Because this is an Omnipresent Trope, Real Life (or Music) examples are not neccesary unless they notably play with the trope.


Examples

In-work

Aversions/subversions in Music
  • Many of The Grateful Dead's studio albums (especially American Beauty) focus far more on traditional pop song structure than the lengthy guitar solos their live shows are known for.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Generic Blues" guitar solo (introduced with "Make it talk, son. Make it talk.") consists of two alternating notes. Rhythm goes from slow to fast and back, but it's just the same two notes. The solo ends with Al suggesting, "Okay. Now make it shut up."
    • Another subversion, also by Weird Al: in the video for "You Don't Love Me Anymore", during one of the musical interludes Al picks up a guitar and spends a few seconds adjusting it in his hands, puts his fingers on the strings and prepares to play... then just sets it back down and goes back to singing.
  • Needs More Examples
Community Feedback Replies: 20
  • April 19, 2011
    azraelfinalstar
    Do we have this already?
  • April 19, 2011
    jaytee
    If we do, I sure couldn't find it. If it exists, it sure isn't under anything intuitive... like Guitar Solo. Epic Riff is related, but definitely not the same.

    I just went through the page for Van Halen... I'm willing to say that if Van Halen doesn't list Guitar Solo, it doesn't exist. :)
  • April 19, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    This is going to be hard to get examples for. The only one that comes to mind is this one:

  • April 20, 2011
    Scooter007
    It might be expanded to "Instrumental Solo": after all, not every song has a guitar init. Keyboard solos are common in pop music, and even bass or drum solos (the latter, though, usually only in live concerts).

    A fictional, parody example: I forgot off the top of my head which episode, but one Mystery Science Theater 3000 host segment had Crow impersonating Jerry Garcia, and playing a ridiculously long guitar solo. Let me go seek it out for more info... EDIT: Found it, it's The Dead Talk Back
  • April 21, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^I don't think it'll be too hard (although the lack of activity so far is disheartening). I'll try and improve the description and get it looking more like a real page here in the next day or so, hopefully that'll help improve traffic.

    Would it be easier if we open it up to notable Real Life aversions, subversions, etc?

    ^I was thinking about that as soon as I launched it. I feel like Guitar Solo and Drum Solo could merit their own pages (especially drum solo, oddly enough, as it is rare enough that Real Life examples would actually be useful), and then maybe another page for Instrumental Solo as a supertrope? I know it seems like The Same But More Specific, but guitar and drum solos are definitely established music tropes on their own.

    Once I get around to revamping the description I'll add the examples :)
  • April 22, 2011
    Scooter007
    ^Meh, just a suggestion. This could easily be expanded to include keyboard solos, maybe just add a paragraph to that effect. Drum Solo, I agree, should be its own entry.
  • April 22, 2011
    troacctid
    Absolutely tropable, and I think Guitar Solo (and Drum Solo) are valid subtropes of the Instrumental Solo supertrope.

    Note that Real Life examples would actually be Music examples, which we're allowed to have.

    Epic Rocking is a related trope.
  • April 22, 2011
    jaytee
    ^The issue isn't whether we're allowed to have Real Life examples, it's just that this is such an Omnipresent Trope in so many musical styles that a list of examples would make no sense. It would end up infinitely long.

    Can anyone think of any notable subversions or aversions?
  • April 22, 2011
    troacctid
    Either way, examples would be listed as Music, not Real Life.
  • April 25, 2011
    jaytee
    @troacctid: fixed for you. Is that whta you had in mind? Let me know whta you think :)
  • April 25, 2011
    GymQuirk
    Subversion:

    • Weird Al Yankovic "Generic Blues" guitar solo (introduced with "Make it talk, son. Make it talk.") consists of two alternating notes. Rhythm goes from slow to fast and back, but it's just the same two notes. The solo ends with Al suggesting, "Okay. Now make it shut up."
  • April 25, 2011
    Scooter007
    • Another subversion, also by Weird Al: in the video for "You Don't Love Me Anymore", during one of the musical interludes Al picks up a guitar and spends a few seconds adjusting it in his hands, puts his fingers on the strings and prepares to play... then just sets it back down and goes back to singing.
  • April 25, 2011
    jaytee
    Great subversions! that's exactly what I'm looking for in the example list.
  • April 26, 2011
    totlmstr
    Do We Have This? Why isn't this trope here?
  • April 26, 2011
    jaytee
    Thanks totl!

    Do you think you could expand on how solos are used in the different rhythm games? I know at some point they actually added the ability to improvise solos further up on the neck, but I don't know enough about these games to write up an example.

    I added (or rather, will add) a little blurb related to your second point.

    As for the two examples: I'm not sure the first one counts as a subversion, since the trope isn't related to the complexity or difficulty of the solo, just the solo itself. And of course, the second one is a bass solo, which isn't a guitar solo, silly goose! There are YKTT Ws for Instrumental Solo and Drum Solo in the works, you could work on a Bass Solo, if you want. Although the TOOL example does remind me of a particular subversion I'd like to add...
  • April 26, 2011
    Wheezy
    How Did We Miss This One?!?!?!??!??!?!??!!!?!?!

    Also, I think Bass Solo should be included on this page. There really aren't enough famous ones to fill an entire page.

    And I say that as a bassist myself.
  • April 26, 2011
    jaytee
    ^Tell me about it! There are a lot of music tropes that are just so obvious they haven't been made yet.

    The problem with bass solo examples (besides the fact that they arguably fill a very different role in music) is that we're considering eliminating examples from this page entirely, since a list of guitar solos would be completely impossible.

    I'd say the best thing to do with examples of Bass Solos (short of starting a new YKTTW) is to add them to the Instrumental Solo YKTTW [1]. I'm not entirely pleased with how that list of example is shaping up (it's reading more like Odd Instrument Solo than a super trope of different kinds of solos) so instead, it will likely become a list of notable solos by instrument. We could definitely add a bass section and if you want to write a short description specifically for bass solos, we could include that in the description.

    What do you think?
  • April 26, 2011
    troacctid
    • Enforced in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. Because the premise of the games is simulated guitar-playing, their creators stuff them with cool guitar solos.
  • July 29, 2011
    lamoxlamae
    Giving this one a chance at life. Does anyone have more examples?
  • August 26, 2011
    jaytee
    Bumping my old YKTT Ws, can we get a few more examples? This is so obviously a trope, there have to be some more in universe examples. Just need more wicks so this doesn't wither as soon as it launches.
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