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Michael Johnson >> Alex Lifeson (Rush) style >>

Welcome class to the lesson on the style of Alex Lifeson of Rush. In this series we will explore the various stages of Rush's sound. In 1974 Rush came out with their first album, self titled "Rush". This album had a heavy Led Zeppelin influence. Later Neil Peart joined the band for Fly By Night and changed Rush's direction. This lesson will focus on the first two albums. You might notice they had more of a rock sound, than the later progressive style that evolved over time. Check out the lesson sample.

Lesson Sample - Lowband -1.2

Lesson Sample - Highband - 3 Meg

Teacher: OK, let's jump into the first lick. Here is a common rock riff in E.

Part 1 - Rhythm

Part 1 - Rhythm

Teacher: You might notice there are a lot of 5, power chords, simple , but very effective. Notice the 5 intervals towards the end of the phrase. Here's the looping jam track;

Looping Jam Track 1 - Lowband

Teacher: Alex Lifeson can make a diatonic and pentatonic scale sound very dynamic. He has a very aggressive picking style as well. Alex uses a lot of down picking to create his sound. Here's the solo you can play over the rhythm.

Part 1 - Solo

Part 1 - Solo

Teacher: This is a unique solo. You start with ascending the E Minor scale, and then play in the E Minor Pentatonic position on the 12th fret. In bar 3 you descend the E Minor Blues scale. In bars 4, 5 & 6 you follow the intervals on the jam track. Here's some of the scale patterns I talked about.

E Minor 7 E Minor Pentatonic

Teacher: I highlighted the E Minor Pentatonic scale. Practice this solo a few times over the rhythm track and then we'll move to the next part. Ok, let's move to the next lick that you play over the droning bass track.

Part 2 - Solo 1

Part 2 - Solo 1

Teacher: This lick uses the E Minor Pentatonic as well, then shifts to the E Dorian in bar 2. Bar 3 descends using a E Minor Blues that includes a b5 note. The rhythm guitar picks up with the bass drone note in E. Here's the rhythm guitar pattern.

Part 2 - Rhythm

Part 2 - Rhythm

Teacher: This is a easy rhythm pattern the plays the E5 chord and drones on the open E (6th sting). This is also called a "pedal tone." Here's the jam track, next we'll play a solo over this track.

Looping Jam Track 2 - Lowband

Teacher: Here's the solo in E.

Part 2 - Solo 2

Part 2 - Solo 2

Teacher: This is a cool solo in E Minor Pentatonic. Notice in bar 2 you jump to the 16th fret where you bend one whole-step. This note is a B in the neutral position which is in the E Minor Pentatonic scale, but bending the note one whole-step makes it a C# which is in the E Dorian scale. Notice in bar 3 you bend the 15th fret/2nd string and the play the 15th fret below it on the 1st string. This is a common rock lick, now we will shift gears a bit and play in A. Here's the rhythm.

Part 3 - Rhythm

Part 3 - Solo 1

Teacher: This rhythm uses more 5 chords (power chords), but this time you include the open G and D/F# chord. In bars 3 & 4 you play an ascending walking bass type line using 5 chords and then end with the G and D/F# at the end of each phrase. Bars 5 & 6 use a C5 and F5. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 3 - Lowband

Teacher: Well it's time for another solo, this solo uses the A Minor Pentatonic, but starts in the 4th box pattern. Here's the solo.

Part 3 - Solo 1

Part 3 - Solo 1

Teacher: There's a lot going on with this solo. As I mentioned you start in the 4th box pattern of A the Minor Pentatonic.

A Minor Pentatonic - 4th Box Pattern

Sissinio: Am I reading this right that you are doing the full bend at the 15th fret with your third finger and getting the E string 15th fret with your pinkie?

Correct Sissinio. This is a common technique and makes playing the 1st string easier. Bar 3 breaks out of the box 4 pattern and uses a b5 note.

Hunter: Do you also use your index or middle finger to "help" bend the 2nd string? Which do you prefer for this lick?

Teacher: Hunter correct, you can see this technique better in the video.

Hunter: I tend to use all 3 fingers, is that o.k. form?

Teacher: That's OK.

Teacher: Bar 4 jumps into box 1 of the A Minor Pentatonic scale pattern.

A Minor Pentatonic - Box 1

Teacher: Notice in bars 5, 6, & 7 you use double-stop notes that follow the rhythm progression. Well time to go, I hope to see you all at the next Alex Lifeson lesson.

Teacher: See you next lesson!

Hunter: Thanks very much, Michael

Milben: thanks teacher

cowboy: thanx michael

Sissinio: Mega thanks! Don't rush off though.

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