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There's a Freight Train Comin', p.5

Phrase 3: Sixes

While violinists frequently utilize four-note-per-string fingerings, the greater scale length of the guitar means that three-note-per-string fingerings are most often the rule for shredders. As a result, many common shred licks measure their length in even multiples of the number 3. By far the most common of these is the venerable six. The third phrase of the solo is built to dramatic effect upon an ascending sequence of sixes:

Phrase 3   –   listen (67.44KB MP3)


                            m.14
---------------------------|------------------------------
---------------------------|----------15-18-17-16-15----15
---------------------------|-14-15-18----------------18---
---------------------------|------------------------------
---------------------------|------------------------------
---------------------------|------------------------------
                             d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


                 m.15                m.16
----------------|----------15-17-18-|----------17-18-20-|-
----------------|-15-17-18----------|-17-18-20----------|-
-18-17-15-17-18-|-------------------|-------------------|-
----------------|-------------------|-------------------|-
----------------|-------------------|-------------------|-
----------------|-------------------|-------------------|-
 d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d



m.17
----------18-20-22-(25)-----------------------------------
-18-20-22-------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 u  d  u  d  u  d

The phrase begins on the G string with what is essentially a two-string lead-in to the sequence of sixes that finishes the phrase. This pickup pattern is composed of a combination of blues and chromatic tones again taken from the Angelo Fingerings at the 15th fret:

Two-String Pickup   –   listen (39.89KB MP3)


m.14
----------------------------------------------------------
----------15-18-17-16-15----15----------------------------
-14-15-18----------------18----18-17-15-17-18-------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d

The purpose of the pickup is to force the ascending sixes section somewhat counter-intuitively to begin with an upstroke:

Ascending Sixes   –   listen (42.43KB MP3)


m.15                m.16                m.17
----------15-17-18-|----------17-18-20-|----------18-20-22
-15-17-18----------|-17-18-20----------|-18-20-22---------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
 u  d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d


While most shred building blocks begin with downstrokes, Mike’s logic here is more subtle: he’s thinking ahead. Mike commonly uses ascending sixes as bridges to other licks, and by beginning each six on an upstroke, he knows he’ll finish each one on a downstroke. This sets him up to begin his next lick on a downstroke without repeating any notes and without pausing to repeat two of the same pickstrokes in a row. Since many shred licks do in fact begin with downstrokes, this strategy is useful. One common example of this in Mike’s playing is his frequent linking of ascending sixes directly to descending sixes:

Ascending-Descending Sixes   –   listen (133.26KB MP3)



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



-20-18----------|-20-18-17----------|-18-17-15------------
-------22-20-18-|----------20-18-17-|----------18-17-15---
----------------|-------------------|---------------------
----------------|-------------------|-----------------etc.
----------------|-------------------|---------------------
----------------|-------------------|---------------------


In this example, the downstroke that finishes the final ascending six also serves as the initial note of the sequence of descending sixes. Beginning the descending section on a downstroke serves as a mechanical “marker” to the right hand that the lick is about to change direction. Similarly, phrase 3 of the Freight Train solo ends on a dramatic, three-fret bend which is really best executed with an emphatic downstroke:

Sixes + Bend   –   listen (31.72KB MP3)


m.17
----------18-20-22--(25)-/\/\-----------------------------
-18-20-22-------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 u  d  u  d  u  d


By beginning the sequence of sixes on a upstroke, he ensures that this final, most powerful note in the phrase, is executed with a downstroke. The bend also falls on the downbeat of the measure, and is backed up by a
pair of unison stabs by drummer Bobby Rock and bassist T.J. Racer. As a result, the sixes section is both the rhythmic and melodic apex of the solo.

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