What Makes Up a Good Piano Solo
Music, in large part, is a subjective art form. A song that sounds good to one
person might not appeal to someone else. However, music is not completely subjective. There are aspects to
composition that can be evaluated on a more objective level.
The attributes of a good piano solo are universal between different
styles of music. The exact techniques, scales and modes used may vary between genres, but the overall method behind
a good solo is mostly independent of this consideration.
This is largely the reason why music can be subjectively and objectively assessed. The subjective aspects have
more to do with techniques that are not inherently required in a good solo.
Composition plays a large role in a good solo part. The exact nature of what the solo is made up is going to
vary between styles of music. A blues pianist might write a good
solo using just the blues scale. On the other hand, a jazz pianist might use a variety of different
scales and modes over the course of a solo.
The mark of a good piano solo is whether or not it conveys the emotion or feeling the musician is trying to get
across. If the solo is supposed to sound melancholy, a good solo would convey a feeling of sadness to an audience.
A good suspenseful solo would create an air of tension when played. The mark of a good solo is that anyone can
listen to it and figure out exactly what the artist is trying to convey.
Playing dynamics are not
necessarily required to create a good solo, but are almost always present. Playing dynamics means that the
musician uses techniques to emphasize certain notes. For example, a piano player might play certain notes
softer or louder than normal to draw attention to them.
These techniques help reinforce the feeling created by the composition and make the solo sound more interesting
to the audience. Rather than having a flat line of piano notes, the
dynamics create peaks and valleys in the composition.
Actual playing technique does play a role in a good piano solo. No matter how well written a solo is, it is not
going to sound good if played poorly. The piano player needs to play a good solo precisely with consistent use of
The solo needs to be in sync with the rest of the song as well. A weak piano player can drag down a good solo
because the audience is going to get distracted by the mistakes the player makes over the course of a solo.
A good solo should be immediately recognizable to anyone with some musical training. It is not entirely a
subjective aspect of playing. Just because a solo requires impressive technical abilities or is played extremely
well does not make it good.
A good solo conveys something to the audience that should be immediately obvious to anyone that hears it. Even
very simple solos can still be very good if that solo manages to get the point the composer is trying to get across
to the audience.