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Michael Johnson >> British Art Rock >>
Lesson Subject: British Art Rock I
What you learn: Jethro Tull (Martin Barre) Style
Teacher: Michael Johnson

Michael: Welcome class, we have some very cool lesson content to cover on the style of Jethro Tull. This lesson features the techniques used by guitarist Martin Barre (electric/acoustic) and Ian Anderson on acoustic guitar and flute. The musicians in Tull, led by band leader Ian Anderson, have an incredible talent for combining acoustic and electric guitars while layering the other instruments (flute, keys, bass, drums), much in the manner of a classical string or horn ensemble. This is one secret of their music... the other technique is morphing classical, rock, folk and even some jazz. Check out the Lesson Sample of what you'll learn!

Lesson Sample

Michael: Notice how the lesson sample is broken into 3 sections, almost sounding like 3 different songs, but combined into one song. Our first section starts off with a classical sounding selection, here's the lick:

Part 1 - Lick 1

Michael: You basically start with a F5 chord and play a bass pattern over that section, notice how the notes bounce from F, Bb, C, A. Here are some of the pictures of the positions.


F5 w/Bb bass

F5 w/C bass

F5 w/A bass

Michael: Now the Bb over the F is quite a stretch, bass line played over a chord usually are relative to the notes in the chord, in this case we have: F Major (F, G A Bb, C D E), the F5 has F and Bb (F (1), G, A, Bb, C (5), D E) and the bass line consists of F Bb. C, A which are in the bass line and F Major scale.

Ralph: Defines the bass movement on the index finger.

Looping Jam Track 1

Michael: Can you reach the Bb note in the 2nd picture?

ginger: barely

Michael: Yes, it is a little hard, but keep trying though. If you can't reach the note you can also omit by playing the higher notes only. I'd suggest slowing the interactive tab and looping to work on one section at a time. First notice how the guitar, bass and flute counter and then join together during segments of the phrase, here's our next section:

Part 1 - Lick 2

Are you finger picking?

Michael: Yes I am, you do in classical, but you can improvise with a pick as well.

Looping Jam Track 2

Michael: You are all going to get a work out in this class, we have some challenging chords and techniques, but it is good for you to experience these phrases and how they all fit together. This stars with a F Aug 5 with a 4 in the bass, then each chord descends based around this pattern.

oraculo: Is Aug 5 some between 5 and 6 ??

Michael: You have F with a #5.

Chord 1

Chord 2

Chord 3

Chord 4

Michael: There you go, that should help on figuring out the chords. Now in our next section you can a bass line over the C5, this works pretty much the same as the F5 with the bass line, only in C Major now.

Part 1 - Lick 3

Looping Jam Track 3

This should be a little easier to play.

Satch: So what type of music is this? what category?

Michael: It's considered art rock or progressive rock. This style combines classical, folk and rock. The next section will be rock coming up.


C5 w/F bass

C5 w/G bass

C5 w/E bass

Michael: The pictures should help, now here's the entire 1st phrase in a jam track.

Looping Jam Track 4 (Part 1)

Michael: Tull will jump from style to style and will often utilize the instruments to create the best effect. In this case you'll notice how electric guitar, bass, drums and organ are used to give the rock sound. So we have classical/folk then to rock.

Ralph: In the old days we called this progressive rock.

Michael: Yes, Art Rock and Progressive Rock are very close, the band Kansas was influenced by Tull, you might notice the groove laid down in this tab.

Ralph: Very sequential, yet melodic.

Michael: A common technique is to raise or lower a phrase a 1/2 or whole step, giving the song more excitement and making it more interesting.

Part 2 - Lick 1 - 2

oraculo: Is transpose it a half tone up.

Michael: Yes oracula, notice in part 1 you play a sequence in the C minor scale and then modulate up to the C# min using the same sequence. Here's a jam track.

Looping Jam Track 5

Michael: Now you can repeat the end of the theme you played in part 1 (C5), only this time using electric combo sound.

Part 2 - Lick 3

Michael: Here's a jam track for the 3rd lick of Part 2:

Looping Jam Track 6

Ralph: This line reminds me of a RUSH thing!

Michael: You bet Ralph! Rush was influenced by Tull as well. OK, now we can jump back into the classical section using a different pattern, this is a descending pattern in Am.

Part 3 - Lick 1

Michael: Notice the classical/swing (jazz) type feel, another example of "morphing" styles together. This is quite common with Art Rock/Progressive bands.

Ralph: I heard a little Steve Howe at the end there.

Michael: You bet, here's the last jam track.

Looping Jam Track 8

Michael: Here's parts 1, 2 & 3 together.

Looping Jam Track (All Parts)

Michael: I hope this lesson gave you all a better understanding of how Jethro Tull creates their sound.

Ralph: Great composition as well.

Michael: Hey thanks, I had fun creating it. There were many progressive bands influenced by Tull in the later 70s and early 80s.

oraculo: Thanks a lot teacher, was very interesting!

Michael: See you next lesson everybody!!!

Ralph: Thanks for your time

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