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Lyle Ronglien >> Satriani-Vai styles >>

In The Style of Steve Vai - part 1

Lyle: Steve uses pretty much EVERY scale when he has the chance, but for this lesson you are going to look at 2 that seems to fit his style. Let's get started tonight with a jam loop in Em:

Lyle: Here is the first scale, the E Dorian minor. This is also the 2nd mode in the key of D major. The formula for this scale is: 1-2-b3-4-5-6-b7

Lyle: And now a 6 string version of this scale.

Lyle: Practice playing the scale with the jam track so you can start training your ears to recognize the sound. As you improvise, try to land on that 6th degree. It brings out the "flavor" of the scale. The Dorian is like the pure (natural or relative) minor, but with a major 6th in it. The major 6th in the scale gives it it's distinctive sound. Here's the first dorian riff we'll work on.

Lyle: This first riff starts on the 6th degree and ends on the 6th , one octave lower.

michaelj: Lyle, does Steve Vai have any favorite keys, say E, F#, whatever?

Lyle: Seems like Steve Vai likes to make use of the keys that have open strings in them like E and F#7, and B.

Lyle: Here's the second riff. Dorian riff 2 has big interval jumps in it.

Lyle: Let's get going to the next scale, the E Lydian. This is my favorite scale to use to get that "Vai" sound. Load this new jam track now:

Lyle: Here's the tab for the E Lydian scale. This is also a mode. This E Lydian is the 4th mode in the key of B major. This scale is just like a major scale, but with a raised 4th in it. Formula: 1-2-3-#4-5-6-7.

Lyle: Here's a 6 string version.

Marko: What chords do you use in the jam loop?

Lyle: Marko, in the jam track, I'm holding down this chord:

michaelj: I understand the Lydian was one of Frank Zappa's favorite scales, didn't Steve start his career with Frank?

Lyle: Yes he did. Transcribing and then performing and recording. Here's a cool riff made from this scale for you to learn:

Lyle: Here comes another riff that has a sliding technique typical of Vai:

Lyle: That's all for this lesson. If you would like further study on this topic or any other topic, email me at for info on how you can get your own customized guitar lessons like this using Riff Interactive technology. Your private lessons can be downloaded to your pc for anytime, anywhere study. Thanks and see you at the next lesson. - Lyle

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