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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 their 2112 era. This is when Rush really branched out the create a more progressive sound. This was unique at the time, because most progressive bands like Yes, Tull, Kansas and others had 5 or more members in the band. Rush was able to pull it off with 3 musicians. Listen to the lesson sample of the licks and rhythms you will learn.

Lesson Sample - Lowband - 1.4 Meg

Lesson Sample - Highband - 3.7 Meg

Teacher: Most of the guitar parts are easy to play, it's how the arranged all the songs that made their sound very cool. Let's get started! The opening riff starts with a staccato rhythmic pattern.

Part 1

Part 1

Teacher: This section uses all 5 chords (power chords) moving down mostly in 4ths. Make sure you allow the rest in the phrases to stand out. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 1 - Lowband

Teacher: You might notice the delay on the jam track. This fills up the space in the rest. The delay is set at 250 millsecs at 90% effects volume. OK let's jump to the next section. This rhythm pattern has a triplet groove to it. You use more 5 chords (power chords) in this rhythm pattern.

Part 2

Part 2

Teacher: Notice the triplet rhythm has a kind of "gallop" sound typical of sounding like a horse galloping. This rhythm pattern is used by a lot of heavy metal bands of the 80s.

ACfixer: Iron Maiden-ish

Teacher: Yes ACfixer, like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest,... Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 2 - Lowband

Teacher: Rush helped influence many metal bands, especially Neil Peart with most heavy metal drummers. Here's the next section, moving in to a dynamic rhythm part.

Part 3

Part 3

Teacher: This section starts off with a descending run using the A Mixolydian mood. Here's the A Mixolydian scale

A Mixolydian

Teacher: The rhythm pattern also uses open chords, starting from A. You play A, G, D, A using various voicings of A. Here's the jam track.

Looping Jam Track 3 - Lowband

Jerry: So the primary key is A.

Teacher: Yes Jerry. Now you will play power chords that help transition the phrase into the solo. Here's the chords.
Part 4

Teacher: These are basic chords except for the D/F#. Next is the rhythm track for the solo.

Part 5

Teacher: This rhythm has some cool sounding polytonal chords. Polytonal chords use basic chord fingerings that utilize open strings. Most of the higher chords use a "C" chord fingering. Here's the jam track. Here's the jam track, load this file and you will play the up-coming licks that I will give you next over this track.

Looping Jam Track 5 - Lowband

Teacher: Here's the first part of the solo.

Part 5 - Solo 1

Part 5 - Solo 1

Teacher: This solo uses the A Minor scale pattern, starting with a bending triple-stop lick at the beginning. You bend the 3rd string/7th fret with the 3rd finger, while the 4th finger barres the 1st and 2nd strings on the 8th fret. The lick moves down to the "B" note on the 4th fret/3rd string.

donnell: That's hard to do.

Teacher: Donnell, make sure you grab the top of the neck with your thumb, this way you have a better grip. Notice in bar 3 you ascend the A Minor scale, until in the later part of bar 4 where you shift into the 2nd box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic.

A Minor - A Min Pentatonic - 2nd Box Pattern

Teacher: Let's move to the second part of the solo.

Part 5 - Solo 2

Part 5 - Solo 2

Teacher: This section continues in the 2nd box pattern of the A Minor Pentatonic and then shifts back to box 1 of the A Minor Pentatonic on the 5th fret. Next you will change the rhythm pattern after the solo.

Part 6

Part 6

Teacher: Rush/Alex Lifeson will also shift keys to make a composition sound more interesting. In the example you modulate to the key of E. Notice you use the open E (6th string) as a pedal tone. A pedal tone is a note that is repeated throughout a riff. Here's the jam track for this section.

Looping Jam Track 6 - Lowband

Teacher: The composition in the lesson sample ends with a mellow phrase using polytonal chords. These chords are often used by Alex and the mellow sections add more dynamics to their songs. Here's the section.

Part 7

Teacher: These are basically barre chords, only without the 1st and 2nd strings played open instead of barred. Well I hope this lesson gives you a better idea how Alex Lifeson and Rush developed the compositions on 2112. Time for me to go, see you next lesson

irene: thanks

Jerry: good lesson thanx

cm: Thank you

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