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Golden Age of Guitar Instrumentals - Thursday - Week 4

Surf Guitar Instrumentals
Tremolo picking is at the forefront of today's surf lick. This articulation is endemic to the style. Based on the rapid up-and-down strokes, akin to mandolin playing, this picking is generally reserved, in the surf style, for one particular string at a time. If you aren't familiar with this technique, try this simple exercise. Pick a down stroke on any open string and follow it immediately with an alternating up stroke. Repeat this pattern and make sure to keep the time steady and consistent. Both strokes should have the same rhythmic value. Gradually increase the number of alternating up-and-down strokes until you can play several bars without stopping. As you gain facility gradually increase the speed until a purring sound is achieved. See video.

Today's lick melody takes place on the second (B) string. The melody line is derived from a B "Phrygian Major" scale (B-C-D#-E-F#-G-A#); in essence an E Harmonic Minor scale with a raised fourth degree. This unusual, ethnically-charged pitch arrangement is characteristic of the exotic materials surf music would draw on for its unique vocabulary. The melody is fingered as an as scale played entirely on the B string. The tremolo picking and the unusual intervallic setup in today's lick are exemplary of a class of tunes which prevailed in the surf genre. It is played over a B-C-B Phrygian groove which accentuates the exotic otherworldly impression of the lick. Interestingly, this sound was also favored and cultivated by late 1980s thrash and speed-metal guitarists and rock instrumentalists like Joe Satriani.

Learn this lick and practice with this jam track
Skill Level: guitar pick onguitar pick onguitar pick onguitar pick off
Key: B
Video: lick picking

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