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There's a Freight Train Comin', p.6

Phrase 4: Alien Blues

The fifth phrase is all about the blues — if we imagine that the blues originated on the bizarro anti-gravity world where Michael developed his extraterrestrial chops. The meat of the phrase is a lick that adds a particularly alien sound to the proceedings:

Phrase 4   –   listen (110.29KB MP3)

                            m.18
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|-6--/--15-18-(20)-\/\/------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
                             d     d  u


m.19                m.20
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
----------14-------|----------14-15-18-15-14----14-------|
-14-15-18----18-15-|-14-15-18----------------18----18-15-|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
 d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u


m.21                            m.22             m.23
-------------------------------|----------------|---------
----------14-15-17-15-14----14-|----------------|---------
-14-15-18----------------17----|-17-15-14----14-|---------
-------------------------------|----------17----|-17-15-14
-------------------------------|----------------|---------
-------------------------------|----------------|---------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u



----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
-------14-15-17-/\/\--------------------------------------
-15-17----------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 d  u  d  u  d

The phrase begins with the effective application of a simple blues bend. It takes place in what is probably the most common location for such a bend — the second string:

Blues Bend   –   listen (72.54KB MP3)


                            m.18
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|-6--/--15-18-(20)-\/\/------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
---------------------------|----------------------------|-
                             d     d  u

Specifically, Mike slides up the B string from third-fret box position to the 15th-fret box position, hits the bend, and slowly raises it to pitch over the course of approximately one searing measure. This episode is really the response to the three-fret bend at the end of the solo’s third phrase. Together, the two dramatic bends form a call and response which add some necessary space amid the furious bombardment of picked notes.

After the coffee break, we are immediately transported to E.T.’s home planet by way of an unusual two-string pattern:

Michael Angelo the Alien   –   listen (92.43KB MP3)

m.19                m.20
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
----------14-------|----------14-15-18-15-14----14-------|
-14-15-18----18-15-|-14-15-18----------------18----18-15-|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
-------------------|--------------------------------etc.-|
-------------------|-------------------------------------|
 d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u

As a guitarist, your spider sense should immediately become active whenever something sounds too weird. In this case, your skepticism would be well rewarded. The secret to this lick is a clever gimmick that many players have employed: take a common picking pattern and apply it to an uncommon fingering. The picking pattern at work in this example is once again our friend the Paul Gilbert Lick. The difference is that it is applied to a wide freboard stretch that results in unison notes being sounded between the G and B strings:

Paul Gilbert the Alien   –   listen (66.42KB MP3)


-------------------|-------------------|------------------
----------14-------|----------14-------|------------------
-14-15-18----18-15-|-14-15-18----18-15-|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|--etc.------------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u

This is a great little trick which can be adapted to all sorts of fingerings and picking patterns. Michael himself does so with suitably alien results in the solo to the song Time Traveler, off his album Planet Gemini:

Time Traveler   –   listen (102.65KB MP3)


m.1           m.2              m.3
-19-15-14-14-|-20-16-14-------|----------14-16-20-|-------
-------------|----------20-16-|-14-16-20----------|-repeat
-------------|----------------|-------------------|--m.3--
-------------|----------------|-------------------|--four-
-------------|----------------|-------------------|-times-
-------------|----------------|-------------------|-------
 d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u  d  u  d



       m.4               m.5
-|-------------14-------|----------14----------|-----------
-|-14-14-16-20----20-16-|-14-16-20----20-16-14-|-----------
-|----------------------|----------------------|--etc.-----
-|----------------------|----------------------|-----------
-|----------------------|----------------------|-----------
-|----------------------|----------------------|-----------
   u  d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u  d

Although it sounds pretty strange at first, all the Time traveler lick does is apply the now-familiar ascending sixes pattern (starting on an upstroke, of course) to a couple of wide stretches on adjacent strings. The width of the stretch produces the odd result that the first note on the E string is actually lower in pitch than the note that immediately precedes it on the B string. You might even think of it as an “alien unison” of sorts:

Alien Unison   –   listen (70.5KB MP3)

----------14----14----------------------------------------
-14-16-20----20----20-/\/\--------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d

At high speed, this creates a brief warble as the pattern moves from the lower string to the higher string. Switching from the ascending sixes picking pattern to the Paul Gilbert picking pattern midway through the lick milks the warble for all it’s worth:

Paul Gilbert is Still an Alien   –   listen (50.09KB MP3)


----------14----------|-----------------------------------
-14-16-20----20-16-24-|-----------------------------------
----------------------|--etc.-----------------------------
----------------------|-----------------------------------
----------------------|-----------------------------------
----------------------|-----------------------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d

Similar weirdness can be had by taking this fingering pattern and creating other simple sequenced licks. For example, descending sixes produces some funky Atari-like noises:

Alien Sixes   –   listen (74.58KB MP3)



-20-16-14----------|-19-15-13----------|-18-14-12---------
----------20-16-14-|----------19-15-13-|----------18-14-12
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|--------------etc.
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
-------------------|-------------------|------------------
 d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d  u

In the full Time Traveller lick, just be sure and watch the doubled note on the B string in measure 4 as the pattern switches from ascending sixes to Paul Gilbert — it’s necessary for the Paul Gilbert lick to start on a downstroke. A longer excerpt of this solo can also be downloaded from the audio section of Mike’s web site.

Finally, phrase number 5 wraps up with a brief Dorian scalar segment based upon the Paul Gilbert-like pick structure of the alien lick that preceded it:

Paul Gilbert-esque Scalar Pattern   –   listen (49.07KB MP3)


m.21                            m.22             m.23
-------------------------------|----------------|---------
----------14-15-17-15-14----14-|----------------|---------
-14-15-18----------------17----|-17-15-14----14-|---------
-------------------------------|----------17----|-17-15-14
-------------------------------|----------------|---------
-------------------------------|----------------|---------
 d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u  d  u    d  u  d  u  d    u  d  u



----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
-------14-15-17-/\/\--------------------------------------
-15-17----------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
----------------------------------------------------------
 d  u  d  u  d

The string crossing involved in this section may feel awkward, but practice slowly and, whenever possible, check your playing with some sort of time-stretching tool to listen for errors.

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