LESSONS > SHRED YOUR ENTHUSIASM
I Meant to Do That
most of the time. But which minor? Natural
minor (aka Aeolian) or Dorian? The 6th
degree is the note that tells you.
Let me list some tunes you might know,
according to their 6th.
BY PAUL GILBERT
Paul Gilbert purposefully began playing guitar at age 9, formed the guitar-driven bands
Racer X and Mr. Big, and then accidentally
had a No. 1 hit with an acoustic song called
“To Be with You.” Paul began teaching at
GIT at the age of 18, has released countless
albums and guitar instructional DVDs, and
will remembered as “the guy who got the drill
stuck in his hair.” For more information, visit
Minor scale containing the minor 6th
( 6). This is natural minor:
“Crazy Train” (intro and solo)
“Stairway to Heaven” (end solo)
“All Along the Watchtower” (rhythm part)
“Suffragette City” (rhythm part)
• Grasp of natural minor and
• Understanding of minor 9th
• Alternate-picking skills
he’s doing. The engineer hits the record
button on the big 2" tape machine and the
song starts to play. The guitarist moves his
fingers as fast as he can and takes some wild
guesses about where to bend and where to
end. After 10 takes of near gibberish, he gets
lucky and plays something that locks into
the key and the groove. He turns to the pro-
ducer and says, “I meant to do that.”
Now, I must go on record by saying that
I fully support the “happy accident.” This is
rock ’n’ roll, not Mozart. At the same time,
the world could use a bit less gibberish and
a higher percentage of ... melodic intention.
What do I mean by this? I mean playing
well-selected notes on purpose because you
like the way they sound, not just because
they happen to fall in a convenient spot
where your fingers were going anyway.
How does one do this? Let’s start with
some good notes. And that requires a tiny
amount of music theory.
Minor scale containing the major 6th ( 6).
This is Dorian:
“Highway to Hell”
“Born to Be Wild”
“Cold Gin” (intro)
Man, I’ve got a great lick for you this month.
How can I motivate you to learn these five
notes? I’ll try a Pee Wee Herman reference.
Do you remember the scene in Pee Wee’s
Big Adventure where Pee Wee starts showing
off by doing athletic stunts on his bicycle,
then loses control, and crashes in front of
a bunch of neighborhood kids? He gets up
and says, “I meant to do that.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if a significant
percentage of ’80s shred guitar solos were
created in a similar spirit. Imagine the scene:
The spandex-wearing, big-haired dude with
a whammy bar doesn’t really know what
I present you with: THE SINGLE
MOST IMPORTANT THING A
ROCK GUITAR PLAYER SHOULD
KNOW FROM THE IMPOSING
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MUSIC THEORY.
The important idea
is to know which
6th is in the chord
progression, so you
can use the same
one in your solo.
So here it is: Which 6th should you use?
That’s it. Now, since you’re a rock guitar
player, I’ll assume you are playing in minor
The important idea is to know which
6th is in the chord progression, so you
can use the same one in your solo. Being
a “heavy metal guy” in my teenage years,
I heavily favored the minor 6th for years.
Later, when I tried soloing over rock tunes
™™ 4 4 &#
9 11 12
≥ = downstroke
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