Solar (Miles Davis)

Solar is a jazz standard made famous by Miles Davis. The song was actually composed by jazz guitarist Chuck Wayne in 1946 under the title “Sonny”. In this lesson, you will learn how to play the melody of Solar and how to solo over its chord changes.

The studies in this lesson expose you to licks and scales that will expand your playing as a whole. Work them with a metronome and backing tracks, and break them down in your playing.

Not only will you become better at playing Solar, but you will also become a better jazz guitarist at the same time.

 

Jazz Guitar Patterns & Phrases Volume 1

 

Video

Solar (Miles Davis) Jazz Guitar Lesson - Melody & Solo

 

Solar – The Melody

Here are the lead sheet and the guitar tabs of Solar’s melody.

 

Backing Track (no piano)

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Listen & Play Along

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Solar Melody and Lead Sheet

 

Solar Backing Track

Here is a backing track you can use to practice improvising over Solar.

 

Solar Backing Track (150 BPM)

Solar – Harmonic Analysis

The chords of Solar are pretty straightforward, mainly ii V I chord progressions.

Solar is 12 bars long.

It starts in C minor, modulates to F major, Eb major, and finally Db major before returning to C minor.

 

Solar harmonic analysis

 

Bars 1-2 | C Minor

The first two bars of Solar are in C minor.

The melody is in the C melodic minor scale here, and that’s also a good choice for the solos.

 

C melodic minor scale

 

Another option is C Dorian, the second of the guitar modes.

 

C Dorian mode

 

Bars 3-6 | F Major

In the next four bars, the harmony modulates to F major with a ii V I chord progression.

The scale of choice here is the F major scale.

 

F major scale diagram

 

To create some variation, you can play the C altered scale over C7.

 

C altered scale

 

Bars 7-9 | Eb Major

The progression in bars 7 to 9 is a ii V I in Eb major.

Use the Eb major scale over this chord progression.

 

Eb major scale

 

Bars 10-11 | Db Major

The next two bars feature a short ii V I progression, this time in Db major.

Use the Db major scale here.

 

Db major scale

 

Bar 12 | C Minor

Bar 12 features a short minor ii V back to the tonic minor.

Here, the scale of choice is the C harmonic minor scale or the C altered scale.

 

C harmonic minor scale

 

Solar – Soloing Study

Here’s the jazz guitar solo that you can learn and apply to your own solos.

The solo is built with a series of classic licks, mixed with scale and arpeggio concepts that you can take out of this study and explore further in your playing.

 

Backing Track (no piano)

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Listen & Play Along

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Solar jazz guitar solo page 1

Solar jazz guitar solo page 2

Solar jazz guitar solo page 3

 

Download Solar Guitar Pro FileGuitar Pro File

 

 

Band in a Box 2022

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37 thoughts on “Solar (Miles Davis)”

  1. Colin

    Thanks for a truly inspiring lesson, Dirk. I couldn’t quite see what your approach was to the quick arpeggios in bars 31 and 37. Do you sweep or chop (up/down)?

  2. Martin

    This is brilliant, thanks Dirk!

  3. Michael

    Love the structure of the harmony. Starts with a pretty basic twelve bar blues moving to the IV in measure five (via II V I) and then stepping down from the F to Eb to Db and back to C. Very elegant!

  4. Barry Sebastian

    I’ve enjoyed many of your covers… Nice run through on Solar!! I particularly like the chord melody punctuations in the head, and solo chord idea/breakdowns. Some guys play this super fast, and it flies by! Good to analyze it a bit ahead of time. Classic tune.

  5. Deborah

    Please would you recommend a decent, but not expensive, beginner jazz guitar? I have small hands and really work to bar chords on my 2 acoustics, never mind my old classical!
    Thanks

    1. Anonymous

      Define not expensive 🙂 Ibanez has some pretty good archtops in the Artcore and Expressionist lineup. If you can spend a bit more, the Eastman AR503, or the AR371

  6. Ed Green

    Solar is the BOMB! I have been a Miles fan for decades. As usual your lesson captures the nuances and overall flavor that makes the piece a memorable classic.

  7. Anonymous

    I like the color coding. Just a beginner and find music theory very confusing. Looking forward to the day the light bulb goes off!

  8. Bretonnet

    Bonjour
    Super ! Merci .
    Bonne journée. Xavier.

  9. Vincent

    Hi nice lessons. Cant figure out how you play these triads. Do you use your pick on the D string? Or use your pincky?

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Hi Vincent, indeed, I use my pick on the D string together with the middle and ring finger.

  10. Nick Mougey

    Solid teaching material. Great stuff to make your own.

  11. Igor

    Thank you very much!
    Perfectly designed materials.

  12. Neil

    How good is this? I learnt so much and feel like a better guitarist after going through this lesson. Just wonderful.

  13. Luke Vidler

    I just got an amazing guitar lesson for free, big love and many thanks!

  14. Claude

    Great solo and like your connection to the chords that are coming .

    Claude

  15. Salvador

    Muchas gracias. Excelente lección.

  16. Tom

    Thank You Dirk, This is an unexpected treat. Still recovering from hand surgery and in the event that my left hand continues to improve, I will embrace this lesson as well as many others. Thank You again.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Thanks Tom! Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery of your hand, now is not a good time to not be able to play…

  17. Pedro Noleto

    Thanks, Dirk. Great lesson! Very nice playing — and congratulations for the new Gibson 175 and the Fender twin; now you are really sounding like Wes Montgomery.

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Thanks Pedro, it’s an ES-175 from 1971 I bought a couple of months ago, very happy with it! The amp is a Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb, great sound and half the weight of a tube Twin.

  18. John Donner

    Good job on this famous song. Good analysis and interesting soloing.

  19. r1100ra@gmail.com

    Thanks for the lesson, a little advanced for my skills but much appreciated anyway! Can you help with the following:

    i) What is a guitar pro file and how to use it?

    ii) Also, I never had any formal theory training so I get confused with this:
    A C dorian mode is the same like the basic C major scale BUT played from D to D, or a scale from C to C utilizing the notes of a D scale?

    Thanks!

    1. Dirk Laukens

      Guitar Pro is software to write guitar tabs (guitar-pro.com).

      C Dorian is the second mode of the Bb major scale. It has the same notes as the Bb major scale, but its tonal center is C instead of Bb. More about modes here: https://www.jazzguitar.be/blog/guitar-modes/

      1. r1100ra@gmail.com

        Thanks for your quick reply and your … patience 😉
        I can read (albeit slowly) standard notation so I have no need for tablatures, thanks, though.

        Now about modes, no matter how many times I tried I don’t seem to be able to memorize it. To me all these Greek names make absolutely no sense and simply add to the confusion, which in all fairness is something you also admit in your book. If all modes are using the notes of the same major scale, then why not call them what they are e.g. C major mode 2 (for D dorian) or G major mode 4 (for C lydian), etc. Am I correct? I am not a professional musician and certainly I do not deny the usefulness of modes, I’m just arguing whoever invented this naming convention was in search of a solution to a non-existent problem. Please forgive my verbosity I’m retired I have a lot of time in my hands. Thank you! 🙂

        1. Daniel Shramo

          You ask a really good question and, as a guitar teacher, I encounter alot. I think the short answer to your question is it actually confuses things further. The best way, I think, to learn the modes is to separate them from their source root and think of them as independent scales and learn the alterations and how the notes sound. So, instead of thinking of Dorian as C Major Mode 2, approach it as a natural minor scale that has a raised 6th. Of course the advantage of that is, if you know how the major scales lay out on the fretboard, the scale paths are already somewhat familiar. The modes can take quite awhile to make sense and can be incredibly frustrating to understand until they click. But the new tonal possibilities that exist in the modes is pretty incredible to say the least. But the first part of that is separating the mode away from referring to it as a part of another scale and using it as it’s own entity. I’d suggest learning and playing around with Dorian first (So What is a great way to aquaint with Dorian) and Mixolydian (Blues and Dominant 7th heavy tunes). Though it can be frustrating at first, by taking this approach your eliminating the step of having to refer to one scale to play another. I hope this reaches you and is useful.

  20. Bas

    Really well laid out lesson, nice integration of melody theory, and practical application, and easy references to foundational materials. Thanks for this.

  21. Dan

    Thanx for sharing this study. There are all the elements for a serious study.
    Thanx again.

  22. Aeter

    Great lesson!! Thank you for sharing!!

  23. Gerrit

    Thanks, this is great. Putting these together must take a lot of effort, much appreciated. Perhaps you can add a Paypal donate button?

  24. Victor

    Thanks for your high quality lessons 🙂

    1. Dirk Laukens

      You’re welcome, Victor, thanks for the feedback!

  25. Albanblue

    So great, a complete etude of a standard, that’s what I love. Thanks!

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