Throughout the history of music, there have been a number of solos.
Mozart, who perfected the piano concerto, would frequently feature the piano, allowing the piano player to show off his abilities, despite the presence of an orchestra that was ready to back him or her up.
In Jazz, solos are often part of the nature of a song, with each section focusing on allowing one particular player to "go crazy" in his her or own way.
In modern music, the guitar solo is almost considered standard fare. So which instrument is really the best for a solo, and if you're thinking about taking up a musical instrument, should this effect the choice in instrument you make?
Well, that choice is always up to you, but we're going to take a look at some modern instruments that might be associated with solos and see if they're really what they're cracked up to be. So let's tackle them one at a time.
If we're talking about solos in this day and age, we have to start with the guitar solo. Ever since the mini-renaissance in music that took place during the 60's and 70's, the guitar is considered probably the most iconic instrument for indulging in a solo. You can impress your friends with a true solo in which you're actually alone, or you can allow your guitar skills to momentarily stand out in your band's song. The guitar goes well with other popular instruments today, such as the bass guitar, the piano, and the drums, and its high range and cutting sound make for an ideal solo instrument.
Although drums are pure percussion and don't feature recognizable pitches, the drum solo can always be an impressive event. The Beatles' famous drummer, Ringo Starr, apparently disliked drum solos but finally engages in one in the Abbey Road track "The End" - near the end of the Beatles' career. The unusual highlighting of the drum set sets an interesting tone for the album, and any good composer should recognize that there are a lot of sounds that can come out of drums that can be put to good use. Drummers should be able to perform solo, stretching the boundaries of their usual "timekeeping" duties and becoming a fully active part of the band. During the development of Jazz, Jazz drummers were able to take percussion to new levels and explore new sounds.
The idea of a piano solo has not been popular as of late - many times the piano is a simple accompaniment, such as the introductory instrument during a power ballad. But the piano still has an amazing range and if you're a good piano player, you can make any piano solo exciting.
Bass or bass guitar
Bass guitar is often a classic "backup" instrument, providing the grounding bassline that allows the other instruments to soar high above. But the bass guitar has such a unique sound that it can work as a solo instrument - and bass guitar players who have the chops can really squeeze some interesting sounds out of the bass guitar. If you're interested in taking up bass, realize that you don't only have to be a background musician. You can really work to create a unique bass sound that might include a solo here and there.
Which instrument is best for a solo? These days, a guitar is the only choice. But that's no reason you should choose the guitar over the other instruments, unless you're only interested in solos. And if that's the case, we have to ask: hey, why can't you blend in with the background occasionally?