Do I always have to start a solo on the root note of the chord or can I use any note in the chord? Example the chord is C# 7. Can I start the solo on a B note? Thanks

  • I mean technically speaking, the note doesn't even need to be in that key. Its your solo and you can make it as consonant or dissonant as you want. Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 11:18

3 Answers 3


Try listening to existing solos, it's a good start point. You'll notice that they can and do start on any note, although the root is fairly common.

There's also the factor of which beat do you start on. Again, it could be and is any beat, or even in between beats. Although the first beat in the bar is fairly common.

There are no hard and fast rules - in fact, no rules relating to this. However, when first learning to solo, it's reassuring to start on the root note on the first beat of the bar. That concept hopefully won't last long, and you'll find you can put in an anacrucis which most likely will not start with the root note. move on to trying other chord tones, then you'll realise that actually, any note from the key - then any note at all (!) will work. Long, sustained notes, though, sound better when they're chord tones.


You can start on any note. It doesn't even need to be in the chord. The chord notes are the main branches of the tree. Smaller branches, twigs and decorations are also admissible!


You can start a solo on any darned note in the scale of the chord.(if we're playing inside,thelonius monk said[and Eric dolphy would agree]that you can use Any of the 12notes if you can figure out how to resolve it correctly,but I digress)..c#7 is a chord with a major 3rd,so we have a six note scale(no "fa" , or major 4th , if you will, over a major7,nor 7 chord,unless you a lazy psychedelic blues trained guitarist such as myself, if you use fa you can't use the 3rd of the chord 'mi'during fa and you have turned it into a sus4 chord during 'fa time',more digression...) So: the normal notes to use over c#7: c# d# e#(f) g# a# b That's it.

  • Well I'm not in a position to justify anything,I(especially in rock/blues)wank the heck out of 'a' over an e7 chord all darn day(oooo,specially if I have some deep echo-y reverb and a cry-baby wah- Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:11
  • wah pedal goin'on,with or without distortion,but as I said,lazy blues rock trained o.g.,have the fly-away pinkie finger and the huge wrap-around thumb to grab bass notes with my left hand and all that terrible techniques and such) i was merely pointing out what notes one 'should' use within the confines of Western 12 tone music theory (aka:jazz, or, if you will, what classical music evolved into)and it's emphasis on tension and Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:12
  • resolution...I did also throw a small shout out to breaking those rules in my answer, and I didn't even touch semi-tones(or "bent"notes for you string players)...My point:you have to understand the rules to understand how to break them and get away with it.... Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 14:13
  • OK,"Tim",brass tacks time:,while many instrumentalists can and do play by ear,no proffesional level arranger and very few composers operate in that manner....Bach laid down the basics of western music theory, they can and will be taught in a logical manner, john Coltrane did not spontaneously improvise most of his solos, he discovered complex mathematical patterns within the context of Bach's even tempored 12 tone western music theory and practiced them hundreds of thousands of times until his fingers could do them without hardly a thought..... Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 22:05
  • Bach himself did purely math experiments in music while composing that he did not 'hear' first. You would want a poet that writes in the English to understand how that language works right? Hear the music?Heck, that is kids stuff...I can hear it fine, and at the same time 'see' it in my mind as a fractal pattern of tension and resolution, moving parts and resting parts, All music based on our twelve notes have that..... Commented Jan 13, 2017 at 22:06

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