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Player Style File: Allan Holdsworth pt.1

Hey. As you can see, this month I’m back to my usual feature – this month, we’re going to look at the stunning playing of British jazz shredder Allan Holdsworth from UK and Level 42 fame. Quite an oldie by all accounts (well, for shred anyway), Allan nevertheless is the more than capable player who was paid and flown all the way to the US to teach Van Halen advanced tricks… um, yeah, good luck Eddie. The fact is that Holdsworth’s technical lofty heights are reached by few – perhaps one of the most compared players in the childish ‘who is better’ war conducted by guitar fans is Shawn Lane. Undoubtedly one of the greatest shred guitarists, at least on a technical level (disregarding fancies and tastes), it is a shame Allan never gained the type of recognition that most other shredders gained in the 80’s. This is – honestly speaking – pretty much to do with his ‘inaccessible’ style, to put it kindly – he often has been cited as being able to play every single note around the one needed without ‘hitting the spot’. Make up your own minds and go listen to some of his stuff. Anyway, the lesson below is one of my favorite Holdsworth pieces – City Nights. Typically smoky jazz, the lead line emulates sax lines at times, and really has a laid back feel to it – personally, it reminds me a lot of Eric Johnson’s Manhattan with similar tone and reminiscent licks (especially the 2 note per string pentatonics dotted about).

Best wishes,

~d
daz@insaneguitar.net
www.dazmalekpour.homestead.com
www.mp3.com\dazmalekpour

City
Nights

I – intro The intro initially adopts a laid back, technically uncomplicated approach set around A Locrian, but this soon changes to high speed sweeping with some interesting position shifts. At the beginning of the sweep, play the A (12th) with your index finger before position shifting to play the E (14th) with the same finger – this will allow an easier coverage of the arpeggio. Likewise with the following arpeggio, trill the A and C with your index and ring fingers before position shifting to play the E with your index again. Continuing into the next sweep, perform the two hammer-on \ pull-offs as two licks using your index and ring fingers to quickly ascend up the string, then shift with your index finger to the C (17th) and play the arpeggio before shifting back down for the G and E trill. Lastly, shift back up for the last ascending sweep… phew! Believe me, this is the best way to play it, and it does require some time to get right and up to blazing speed.



|-------------------------------------------------------------------------
|----------------------------------------------------19-------------------
|-7--------/7-------------------------------------16----16----------------
|---7~-5------7~p5---8--------/8---------------14----------14----------14-
|----------------------8~-6------8~p6-----0h12----------------15p12h15----
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------




|----14-15p14---------------------------17-22p17---------------17h21/24~-21~
|--15--------15-----------------------19--------17-----------17-------------
|16------------16-------------------17---------------------17---------------
|----------------14------12h16p14h17---------------17p14h17-----------------
|------------------15p12----------------------------------------------------
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------




|----------------------------------------------------
|-15-----------/15-----------------------------------
|----14~-12--------14~p12----15-----------15---------
|-------------------------------15p~13-------15p~13--
|----------------------------------------------------
|----------------------------------------------------


II – melody This part is fairly uncomplicated by most terms, but it does have some unusual timing here and there – Allan often slips some intentional off-beat notes for a alarmingly authentic saxophone jazz feel – listen to the original for best idea on this. I’m not sure what guitar he may have used but the tone definitely is thick and warm, very similar to a sax… maybe his signature Carvin. This bit will give you an idea on Allan’s phrasing structure and the way he slips in and out of major modes and melodic minor scales – try to get into that jazzy mood, especially when performing the cool chromatic bits here and there.




|------------------------------13-----------10/12~~~~-----------------------
|-----12/14~----------------------------------------------------------------
|---------------------------14---14--12\10------------12\10p9-9----9/11~~---
|-14------------11h12-----14------------------------------------11----------
|-------------12------------------------------------------------------------
|---------------------------------------------------------------------------





|----------------------------------------------------------------------------
|----------------------------------------------------------------------------
|-12~p10~p8~-----------------------------------------------------------------
|------------12~p10~p8~~-h10~~--/12~~----10p9~-------------------------------
|-----------------------------------------------12p10~----10h12~------10-12--
|-------------------------------------------------------10---------10--------





|---------------------------------------------
|---------------------------------------------
|9-12--11-10--9-------------------------------
|----------------12-11-10-9-\8----------------
|--------------------------------11p9---8-----
|----------------------------------------11~~-


III – pre solo The last bit before the solo is a bit complex, and requires accurate sliding and wide stretches – again, I advise you to follow the shown fingerings, it makes things easier. The legato here is especially smooth (as it always in Holdsworth’s music) so focus on getting it clean and smooth before bringing it up to speed. It starts with some basic economy picking (a la Gambale), and moves onto the large interval stuff. Try holding the same position with your fretting hand while sliding around and you’ll soon get the hang of it.


|------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|-----------------------9h14p9--9-------------9------------11-------------9----
|-------------------9h14------14-14p9-14-9-14---14-9\11-16----16-11\-9-14---14-
|-13-----10--11p9h14-----------------------------------------------------------
|---13p10--12------------------------------------------------------------------





|------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|---------12-------------10-------------12-------------10----------------------
|-9/12-17----17-12\10-15----15-10/12-17----17-12\10-15----15-10-15p12p10h12h15-
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------





|---------------------------------10h13h15p13p10h11h12h13p12p11p10-------------
|-------------------------10h13h15--------------------------------14p13p11p10--
|-10--------------10h13h15-----------------------------------------------------
|---15p12p10h12h15-------------------------------------------------------------
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|------------------------------------------------------------------------------





|-12-----10--------------------------------------
|---13p10--13p10---------------10h15p10~~~~~~~~--
|---------------12~p10---------------------------
|---------------------12p10h12-------------------
|------------------------------------------------
|------------------------------------------------

All in all, this is not a difficult chunk to master, but be prepared for next month as I bring you the solo which will *really* test your skills to the max…

;

daz@insaneguitar.net
www.dazmalekpour.homestead.com
www.mp3.com\dazmalekpour

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