Monday, January 28, 2013

Doctrine of Woodshed: Legato - Rise of the Machines

This week we’re stepping away from the theoretical and gonna dig into a Doctrine riff.  I wanted the solo to “Rise of the Machines” to be aggressive and full throttle, so I decided to open with a lick that will “grab you by the throat.” It is a fast legato run that spans nearly the entire span of a seven string guitar.  Don’t worry six stringers, you won’t be left out of this one.

First some basics.  Legato means “smooth and connected.”  Playing legato means different things for different instruments, but on guitar it comes down to not picking: Hammer ons, pull offs, slides and tapping.  

Different players have different legato techniques.  Lately I’ve been working on a technique I picked up from Alan Holdsworth.  When he plays legato he plays everything with hammer ons (sometimes called “left hand tapping”) even when you change strings.  Some other players always pick the first note of a string change.  

My usual legato technique is somewhere in between.  Whenever I move up a string, I pick.  Whenever I stay on a string or move downward, I don’t pick.  It’s something that I just did intuitively and decided to stick with once I found out John Petrucci and Rusty Cooley do the same thing.  And it is the technique I use on “Rise."

Click on the image for full size

The riff is comprised of a pattern that repeats and rises through the B minor scale.  First, three notes on one string played with hammer ons.  Then, pick a note on the next string, followed by two hammers and two pulloffs.  

After each iteration of the pattern there is a slide up to the next position, and the pattern repeats.  Practicing a lick like this is simply a matter of breaking it down into bite size pieces and then stringing pieces together.  I’d take the first measure, practice the first two beats, then the second two beats, then work in the slide to put them together.  

Here is each iteration of the pattern.  Six string players, just skip pattern one:

After practicing each one slowly, putting measures together should be easy enough.  Once you have strung the entire monster run together, then put it to a metronome and slowly crank up the speed.  The trick is to be very conscious of what your right hand is doing.  ONLY pick the fourth note of each pattern.  You’ll be sorely tempted to pick the first note of each pattern, but after the first note of the solo each pattern starts by being slid into.  Take your time, and you’ll be flying through your fretboard.  

The lick that ends this section quickly descends and the re-ascends.  It is here that we have our only “hammer on from nowhere” in this lick, since we won’t rearticulate while descending.  To play the E at the 17th fret on the B string you just tap with your left hand pinky.  The only notes picked are the F# on the “e” of 2, and I pick the last note instead of hammering on to accent it.

All that’s left is to put it all together.  I’ll leave you with a video of the entire solo.  Don’t forget that Doctrine’s EP is available on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon mp3. This track is still unreleased, but there's plenty of playing like this on the EP.

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Joe, Corey, and myself all have lessons available through Star Music.  Send me a message or call Star Music at 843 448 2819 for more details.  

Blake Graham exclusively uses (and is not endorsed by):
Carvin Guitars
Line 6
Jim Dunlop

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