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There's a Freight Train Comin', p.3

Phrase 1: Two-String Patterns

A series of two-string patterns combine to create the first of the solo’s six melodic phrases. In this case, it’s a multi-octave display of scalar picking prowess:

Phrase 1   –   listen (90.4KB MP3)



m.1                                     m.2
----------18----------------18--------|-----------18-20---
-18-20-22----22-20-18-20-22----22-20--|--18-20-22---------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u      d  u  d  u  d


                                    m.3
-22-20-18----20-18-------18--------|-----------18-20-22---
----------22-------22-20----22-20--|--18-20-22------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
 u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u      d  u  d  u  d  u


                 m.4                                m.5
-20-18----------|----------------------------------|------
-------22-20-18-|----------------------------------|-18-20
----------------|-19-17-15----------------15-17-19-|------
----------------|----------19-17-15-17-19----------|------
----------------|----------------------------------|------
----------------|----------------------------------|------
 d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u



----18-20-22-/\/\----|------------------------------------
-22------------------|------------------------------------
---------------------|------------------------------------
---------------------|------------------------------------
---------------------|------------------------------------
---------------------|------------------------------------
 d  u  d  u



The phrase opens with perhaps the most famous two-string pattern in shred, none other than the much-vaunted Paul Gilbert Lick:

The Paul Gilbert Lick   –   listen (88.35KB MP3)



m.1
----------18----------------18--------|-------------------
-18-20-22----22-20-18-20-22----22-20--|-------------------
--------------------------------------|-------etc.--------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
--------------------------------------|-------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


The Paul Gilbert lick isn’t so much a lick as a picking pattern. Specifically, it’s an alternating combination of five notes on one string and a single note on an adjacent string. The pattern earned its name, and its fame, by virtue of its central position in Paul’s seminal 1987 REH instructional video, Intense Rock. Unbenknownst to many, Mike’s 1986 Star Licks video actually featured this pattern as an exercise a full year before it appeared Intense Rock. So did Paul rip off Mikey? That depends. Many players have used the pattern (DiMeola, Morse, to name a few others), and to be fair, Paul himself does not claim to have originated it. On the other hand, it’s possible that Paul’s decision to feature the lick prominently in Intense Rock was influenced by the popularity of Mike’s earlier Star Licks effort. Apparently Mike thinks so.

But I digress. The solo’s opening phrase continues with another two-string pattern that also uses identical, or “parallel” fingerings — the dreaded descending fours:

Looping Descending Fours at the 20th Fret   –   listen (87.34KB MP3)




-----------18-20-22-20-18----20-18-------18-------|-------
--18-20-22----------------22-------22-20----22-20-|-------
--------------------------------------------------|--etc.-
--------------------------------------------------|-------
--------------------------------------------------|-------
--------------------------------------------------|-------
  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


While many players have used descending fours, Mike’s particular variation of the pattern sets up a unique looping structure on two adjacent strings. To do this, he uses a five-note pickup to connect the end of the lick with its next repetition:

Descending Fours Pickup   –   listen (23.57KB MP3)




-----------18-20------------------------------------------
--18-20-22------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
  d  u  d  u  d


As is almost always the case when Mike plays descending fours, the actual descending portion of the lick begins on an upstroke. We can see this more clearly by eliminating the five-note pickup and extending the fours pattern across all six strings:

Descending Fours Extended   –   listen (101.62KB MP3)



-22-20-18----20-18-------18----------|--------------------
----------22-------22-20----22-20-18-|--22-20-18----20-18-
-------------------------------------|-----------20-------
-------------------------------------|--------------------
-------------------------------------|--------------------
-------------------------------------|--------------------
 u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d     u  d  u  d  u  d



-------------------|-------------------------------------|
-------18----------|-------------------------------------|
-20-19----20-19-17-|-20-19-17----19-17-------17----------|
-------------------|----------20-------20-19----20-19-17-|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
 u  d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d



-------------------------------------|--------------------
-------------------------------------|--------------------
-------------------------------------|--------------------
-20-19-17----19-17-------17----------|--------------------
----------20-------20-18----20-18-17-|--20-18-17----18-17-
-------------------------------------|-----------20-------
 u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d     u  d  u  d  u  d



-------------------|--------------------------------------
-------------------|--------------------------------------
-------------------|--------------------------------------
-------17----------|--------------------------------------
-20-18----20-18-17-|-18-/\/\------------------------------
 u  d  u  d  u  d    u


 

Starting each descending group of four notes with an upstroke is an Angelo hallmark, and is precisely what allows the two-string variant of the lick to start on a downstroke (as shred licks often do), and to connect neatly with itself, like a dog chasing its tail. Fore more on Mike’s use of descending fours in his improvisational playing, check out the following discussion of Angelo signature licks.

The solo’s first phrase concludes with a bi-directional scale run that is itself a kind of two-string pattern played across octaves:

Two-Octave Lick   –   listen (52.13KB MP3)



-----------18-20-22-20-18----------|----------------------
--18-20-22----------------22-20-18-|----------------------
-----------------------------------|-19-17-15-------------
-----------------------------------|----------19-17-15-17-
-----------------------------------|----------------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d  u



-------------|----------18-20-22-/\/\--------------------
-------------|-18-20-22----------------------------------
----15-17-19-|-------------------------------------------
-19----------|-------------------------------------------
-------------|-------------------------------------------
 d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u


In this example Mike is using a common shred device whereby a given fretboard shape is moved across pairs of strings as a way of changing its register. Specifically, the following six-note group is played on strings 1 and 2, and then moved to strings 3 and 4 precisely one octave lower. The net effect is that of an extended scale with one of its notes missing:

Two-Octave Pattern   –   listen (111.32KB MP3)



-----------18-20-22-20-18----------|----------------------
--18-20-22----------------22-20-18-|----------------------
-----------------------------------|----------15-17-19-17-
-----------------------------------|-15-17-19-------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
-----------------------------------|----------------------
  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d    d  u  d  u  d  u  d


----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
-15-------------------------------------------------------
----19-17-15----------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 u  d  u  d



The advantage of such a device is predominantly one of economy, since the left hand is now able to cover a full two octaves of scalar territory by memorizing only one fretboard shape.

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