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Michael Johnson >> British Art Rock >>
Lesson Subject: British Art Rock I
What you learn: Yes (Steve Howe) Style
Teacher: Michael Johnson

Michael: This interactive lesson covers the first in the series of British Art Rock. In this lesson you'll learn some of the secrets of Steve Howe and Yes. In Art Rock/Progressive Rock the guitar is used as an instrument for layering much like a violin or horn in an Orchestra. You layer various musical lines and rhythm patterns  over the drums, bass, keys.... This is an excellent lesson for guitarists who want to expand past basic blues and rock patterns. Steve Howe has an awesome talent for "morphing" musical styles together, he can take classical, jazz, rock, country.... and combine them together to create a very unique sound. First check out the lesson sample of the licks you will learn:

Lesson Sample

Michael: Let's get started, here's a jam track we'll play over, we'll use the key of G for these licks:

Looping Jam Track 1

Michael: For starters we'll use the G Minor Pentatonic scale.

Michael: List to the pattern of the bass, drums and keys on the jam track, they each have a unique melody/pattern. Here's the tab for one pattern you can play over the drums, bass and keys.

Part 1 - Lick 1

AScriabin: Their 2nd album was like a song-for-song clone of the first album. It's called wake of Poseidon if you don't have it.

Michael: Notice the pattern of intervals, as they descend the neck, you resolve using the main G Pentatonic pattern.

AScriabin: I figured they were diatonic to some scale.

Michael: You can alter the rhythm as well, they are, but you'll notice how you can jump back to the old standard pentatonic, here's rhythm pattern 2.

Part 1 - Lick 2

Michael: Remember you are trying to fill the spaces or counter the other melodies with the bass, drums and keys. The drums keep a steady beat, the bass with a drive walking type pattern and the keys playing an arpeggio pattern.

AScriabin: Good point MJ! Howe has to be heard over the thumping bass lines and Wakeman fills.

Michael: The staccato guitar lines help to fill the spaces, notice the guitar tone is sharp as well, to stand out. Let's try another pattern that uses more of the pentatonic/blues.

Part 1 - Lick 3

Michael: Try all 3 rhythm pattern over the jam track, that way you can alter the patterns to sound more interesting.

Looping Jam Track 1

Michael: OK, let's try a few lead licks. Steve Howe uses open notes to pull off while using the scale patterns, we start off with the G Min Pentatonic scale,.... and using a chromatic line while holding one note down.

Part 2 - Lick 1

Ralph: Like a pedal tone.

Michael: Yes, exactly! I was going to talk about the pedal tone, notice using the 4th finger on the 2nd string 8th fret which is G, the root note of the scale, it fills up the sound and gives the lick a country type sound. The pull offs sound great while using the G Min Pentatonic scale, the notes are relative to the G scale.

Ralph: I like the double stops on the second part of the phrase.

Michael: Here's the patterns.

AScriabin: Does he play that on his ES-335? The jumbo hollow body.

Michael: I've seen him with a ES-175 and even a Fender Tele at times, now you can continue moving up the middle 2 strings using the pull-off and open notes. Steve Howe is great at phrasing.

Part 2 - Lick 2

Michael: See how the pattern works out. You resolve the lick by jumping back into the G Pentatonic pattern. Steve H also work out lines that would play unison with the bass line using staccato type licks.

Part 3 - Lick 1

Looping Jam Track 2

Michael: This lick uses the the minor pentatonic scale pattern, notice the descending 5 intervals starting the G5, F# Aug5, etc. The bass and guitar play a counter line the first part of the lick to the keys and then joins in unison in the 2nd part of the phrase

Ralph: Is this style your thing Michael?

Michael: I grew up playing progressive rock, heavy metal, art rock, jazz-rock, acoustic bands, horn bands, funk... I was playing in all kinds of projects, sometimes as many as 4 bands at a time. I was completely immersed in music, we played and wrote in many styles, but this sure brings back a lot of fond memories 8-)

Ralph: I love it, your the man

Michael: I love going over this style 8-) See you next lesson!

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