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

Welcome class to the lesson on the style of Alex Lifeson of Rush. This lesson will cover more of his early days with Rush, picking up from Fly By Night and Caress of Steel era. This is the time when drummer Neil Peart joined the band and they branched out into more of a progressive rock style, verses the early rock style used on the 1st album. Notice there are more music transitions. The lead will often follow these changes as you hear in the lesson sample.

Lesson Sample - Lowband - 1 Meg

Lesson Sample - Highband - 2.7 Meg

Teacher: Let's jump into the lesson! Here's the opening riff.

Part 1 - Intro

Part 1 - Intro

Teacher: This riff starts with a basic pull-off to G, and the ascending the 5th, 6th and 7th frets on the 5th string. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 1 - Lowband

Teacher: This intro sets the mood for the main riff. Here's the riff.

Part 1 - Riff 1

Part 1 - Riff 1

This section basically uses 5 chords, or otherwise known as "power chords". Alex would uses these chords in a very creative and melodic way, while the bass and drums would play counter parts. Rush would arrange the songs so all the instruments would fit together, allowing the drums or bass to riff out at specific times. Alex would also use open chords to contrast the 5 chords as well. Notice how you play the open G and other chords towards the end of this section.

Teacher: Here's the entire phrase using all parts.

Looping Jam Track 2b - Lowband

Teacher: OK, let's jump to a solo you can play over this section

Part 1 - Solo 1

Part 1 - Solo 1

Teacher: This is a cool sounding lick, that uses open strings notes as part of a hammer/pull-off sequence. The scale is the F# Phrygian. Here's the scale so you can get an idea of the pattern.

F# Phrygian

Teacher: You can see in this pattern how you can use open notes for the hammer/pull-offs. Here's the next part of the solo.

Part 1 - Solo 2

Part 1 - Solo 2

Teacher: This is the solo you play over the open chords I gave you in the jam track. The solo uses the E Minor (Aeolian) scale. Notice how the licks sound majestic while playing of the chords. Here's the E Minor scale pattern.

E Minor Scale

Teacher: Later in the last jam track you have more open chords, here's the melody you would play over this section.

Part 1 - Solo 3

Part 1 - Solo 3

Teacher: Rush would also use dynamics in their arrangements to give their songs more contrast. Adding an acoustic or clean guitar tone would help them achieve this dynamic. Next is a mellow rhythm guitar pat.

Part 2 - Riff 1

Teacher: Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 3 - Lowband

This phrase starts with an A, then adding a 9th by adding the 4th finger on the 1st string. Notice the use of the open E (1st string) as the pedal tone, which drones throughout the chords at the beginning of the phrase. Bars 3 & 4 use polytonal chords that look like a open D Major chord fingering. Next you will play a solo over these chords. Here's the licks.

Part 2 - Solo1

Part 2 - Solo 1

Teacher: This solo uses the B Dorian, here's the scale pattern.

B Dorian

Teacher: The next part uses chords that are in octaves. Here's the part.

Part 3 - Riff 1

Teacher: Easy chords as you can see, notice after you play the E barre on the 7th fret, you then jump to the octave on the 14th fret. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 4a - Lowband

Teacher: This should give you a better idea on how Rush arranged their songs during their early progressive era. Time to go, see you next lesson!

bill: thanks teacher, I will work on this

Teacher: bye!

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