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Lyle Ronglien >> Rock Legends >>


Lesson Sample

Lyle: Best known for his work with the rock group "Deep Purple" and "Rainbow", Ritchie's music background is vast and diverse. Going back to the early 1960's, he has played with many different musicians. He was even the guitarist in Jerry Lee Lewis's (Great Balls of Fire) touring band in 1965. By 1968 he was in the band "Roundabout" which was the embryonic stages of what was to become "Deep Purple". After several hit songs and albums, the 1972 release of "Machine Head" was perhaps their biggest and most influential album which feature such rock classics like "Lazy", Space Truckin'", Highway Star" and the immortal "Smoke On The Water".  He continues to record and tour to this day in the group called "Blackmore's Night" performing in castles across Europe featuring a Renaissance style of music. Some of the players that influenced Ritchie in his beginnings include: Duane Eddy, Buddy Holly, Django Rheinhardt, Jim Sullivan, Les Paul, Chet Atkins, and Scotty Moore. In most of his work, Ritchie favored the Fender Stratocaster plugged into 200-watt Marshall Major amps turned up full blast. He didn't use effects much but a wha-wha pedal was always near by. Suggested listening: "Smoke on the Water" and anything else from the album "Machine Head".

Lyle: As you learn how to play the lesson sample you'll be learning a few of Ritchie's techniques that make up his sound and style. First, learn this rhythm riff which is typical of his style:

rhythm riff

Lyle: Blackmore would often play power chords on the "inside".  In other words, look at the first measure as it starts off on a G bass note (6th string). The rest of the power chord is played out on the 5th fret, (5th and 4th strings). The root is now on "top" and the 5th degree is in the bass (5th fret, 5th string). This is still a power chord but it sounds different because it doesn't have the low bass note in the root position of the chord.

Lyle: Throughout this rhythm riff there are several times that you'll be playing power chords like this. They happen through the 1st measure and into the beginning of the 2nd measure, then also at the very end of the riff. This style of rhythm guitar riffs might be typical of Blackmore's style maybe because he always had a good bass player as well as a good organist in the band laying down the low end while he chose guitar parts that would "stick through" in the mix, staying away from the low root of the chord.

Lyle: Now try playing the rhythm riff along with this jam track:

Looping Sound Clip 1

Lyle: Let's move on to the solo from the lesson sample now. The rhythm riff is in the key of G minor so the best scale to use would be the G minor pentatonic:

Lyle: Besides rocking out with the standard minor pentatonic scale, Ritchie used the natural minor scale which gave him more notes to produce melodies.

ViceRoy: Those are then basically related scales then?

Lyle: Yes they are. The pentatonic has 5 tones, while the natural minor has 7.

1-2-b3-4-5-b6-b7 = natural minor scale
1 -  b3-4-5  -  b7 = minor pentatonic scale

chaz: Down and up picking with the scales?

Lyle: Yes chaz, if you want to be able to play the scales fast, you will need to alternate your picking.

Lyle: Here's riff 1 from the solo:

solo - riff 1

Lyle: Notice the heavy vibrato given to the notes that are held out. Ritchie liked to use a heavy vibrato when playing intense riffs.

sph: Did he use the "Echo/Delay" effect much in his solos?

Lyle: sph - No, he didn't use much effects at all.

Lyle: He used single coil pickups on the Fender Strats, using either the bridge or neck pickup, never the middle for some reason.

Lyle: I'm using a single-coil middle position pickup for these solo riffs because this guitar I'm using has humbuckers in both the bridge and neck position. I have to use the middle single coil pick-up to get this sound.

Lyle: I just want to point out something in riff 1. Notice that it starts off with a little "box pattern" riff from the pentatonic scale, then climbs the neck using the natural minor scale. As you climb the scale, notice the sound I'm getting. I'm "biting" down hard with the pick to create a sharp tone.

Lyle: Using the natural minor scale for the second half of the riff adds a nice melodic phrase, something different besides a standard rock type of pentatonic lick. This is another technique of Blackmore, creating a nice melody and making it fit in a hard rock solo.

sph: What do you mean "biting"

Lyle: "biting" - picking real hard.

ViceRoy: So the "biting" and the vibrato he uses is a big part of his style?

Lyle: ViceRoy - Yes, remember he doesn't use much effects so any changes in tone come from his hands and the basic controls on his guitar.

Lyle: Now on to the second riff. This riff is short and simple, but the last note is the tough one. You need to be able to hold it bent up a whole step and wiggle it hard and fast creating a nice vibrato.

solo - riff 2

Lyle: The next riff is a descending blues riff using the pentatonic scale:

solo - riff 3

Lyle: In riff 3 you were descending down the scale pattern, riff 4 drops down even further:

solo - riff 4

Lyle: Part of what makes up a good solo is the flow, where it's going. Rock legends like Blackmore have the amazing sense and compositional skills to create great solos.

Lyle: As we get closer to the end of the solo, riff 5 starts to bring you back up the neck like this:

solo - riff 5

Lyle: Now complete the solo with this riff:

solo - riff 6

Lyle: This riff has a slow release bend to it. Notice again the tone of the release bend, you are going to want to "bite" down or pick hard on the string to create that sound, just like in riff 1.

Eric: We are releasing from the 13th fret, full bend back down to the 13th fret?

Lyle: Eric - Yes.

Lyle: Once you have learned all 6 riffs, here's a jam track with the solo in it for you to play along to:

Looping Sound Clip 2

Lyle: That's all for this lesson on one of my favorite guitar legends.

Lyle: If you're interested in learning some of your favorite Deep Purple songs and riffs, feel free to contact me about private lessons. Email me at: for more info. Thanks - Lyle

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