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In the Studio: Multiple-Take Improv

Listen to this before reading on:

Pop Ballad Tail-Out Solo

For this job, my client sent me only the portion of the track that he needed me to solo over — the tail-out section of a pop ballad. Piece of cake, I thought. And the job did indeed only take me a night to complete, but in many takes.

In the studio environment, where I get to scrutinize every lick I play before committing it to posterity, I tend to get overly self-critical. This results in lots of “do-overs.” When you allow this to affect an entire solo, you’ll never get the job done. What I did in this case was improvise until I didn’t like what I was hearing, then punch in just after the last good lick. So the final product is improvised, but over multiple takes.

I think the solo ended up flowing very naturally. The key is playing along with your previous take before the punch engages. If you listened before reading this post, I expect you got the impression that you were hearing a single take. Let me know if I’m mistaken.

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