Dude, I Can Shred!! But Now What?
Hey there! My name is Bill Hudson and this is my first column at Insane Guitar, hope you like it. I´ll be writing columns & tips about composition, technique, improvisation, harmony, 7 Strings guitar, and of course, SHREDDING!!! But the first one is about something really important to me: HOW to shred!! After weeks, months or years of non-stop practicing, you need to make music using what you learned and, believe me, there´s a lot of guitarists out there who can play really fast but simply can´t play music. I´m not saying speed isn´t important, it is! I actually spent many years developing speed. I was in an Yngwie Malmsteen tribute band at the age of 13! But a couple of years later, I learned that our music can´t be in service of our speed, but the speed MUST be in service of our music. It happened EXACTLY when I heard Kee Marcello´s guitar solo in SUPERSTITIOUS, by EUROPE. If you never heard this song, download it and see what I´m talking about. It has a great melody and phrasing, but he still shreds when necessary!!!
So let´s play a game here.
Here´s how the harmony goes:
|: C#m A E B | C#m A B % :|: Bm G D A | Bm G A % 😐
As you can see, we got a simple and traditional hard rock/heavy metal progression. Let´s create a solo:
There are a few ways to do that:
1.Think of the key and play as fast as you can.
2. Think of each chord separately so you can use the right notes on the right chord.
3. Let your heart tell your fingers what to do, but your ears has to help you.
Ok, the last case is good if you know harmony. Let´s face it…there are some gifted people who can simply play above an harmony and sound good, even know they have no idea of what they´re doing, but that doesn´t work for most of us! Well..if you just take a scale and go it up and down as fast as you can, for me, is the same as taking a dictionary and saying word by word from A to Z as fast as you can.
But if you KNOW the words and HOW TO USE IT, you can form beautiful sentences. Once again, you have to KNOW the words… if you don´t KNOW enough, you can´t use them properly. The same for music…if you have a good technique, you can use it in service of your music, but first, you need to be in a good level. Most of instrumentalists who likes to play fast usually mentions classical composers as their influences. Ok, that´s great, but when we say “CLASSICAL MUSIC” suddenly a few melodies comes to our minds… and I bet 99% of us think about “ODE TO JOY” from Beethoven´s 9th Symphony. Come on… that´s really simple! A 5 year-old child can play that! But it is perfect and beautiful! Yeah, of course Beethoven has his fast-playing moments, and that´s not all the time!
Now, back to the harmony, it can fit in two keys: C# Aeolian and B Aeolian.
It cannot be C# minor and B minor, ´cause those keys doesn´t have the major 7th. E major and D major would be closer answers, but that´s still wrong.
Now here are the scales you can use on each chord:
Bb major (C#m is the 2nd; sounds Dorian)
A major (C#m is the 3rd; sounds Phrygian)
E major (C#m is the 6th; sounds Aeolian)
C# harmonic minor
C# melodic minor
A major (A is the root; sounds Ionian)
E major (A is the 4th; sounds Lydian)
D major (A is the 5th; sounds Mixolydian)
B major (B is the root; sounds Ionian)
F# major (B is the 4th; sounds Lydian)
E major (B is the 5th; sounds Mixolydian)
A major (Bm is the 2nd; sounds Dorian)
G major (Bm is the 3rd; sounds Phrygian)
D major (Bm is the 6th; sound Aeolian)
B harmonic minor
B melodic minor
G major (G is the root; sounds Ionian)
D major (G is the 4th; sounds Lydian)
C major (G is the 5th; sounds Mixolydian)
I believe most of you are not familiar with this kind of study, but, believe me, that´s really good! This is the RIGHT way to use the modes… but, please, never forget to listen to your HEART. You don´t need to be a slave of this kinda approach. Maybe you just feel like playing a single note per chord, and it´s the minor 2nd… what´s wrong with that? The rules are made to be broken!
Even know I´m shredding, you can still hear melodies, themes, etc.
So, that´s it… and the EXERCISE is to create your own solo using the harmony above. I won´t show you any licks or exercises for now, but I promise in the next one, I will. It´s time to know how CREATIVE you are. If you can shred, that´s good, but now show me HOW you use your technique. It is quite easy to run the scale up and down…I want you to make MUSIC. And, once again, CREATIVITY doesn´t mean LACK of speed, or NO-SPEED AT ALL, it means USING SPEED AS A TOOL. I´d really like to hear what you did, so, if you want, record it and send in the following address: email@example.com
That´s all for now… hope you like it. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions, doubts, or just want to keep in touch!!!