Hello, and welcome to my new Guitar World instructional column. In the coming months, I’ll share with you some of the guitar-playing concepts and approaches that have helped me develop my technique and overall playing style. I’d like to start off with an examination of ascending scalar shapes that, by design, cover the majority of the fretboard.
What, exactly, is a headphone album? Well, the definition changes depending on who you are. For audiophiles, a headphone album is a work that is so exquisitely recorded that it demands that you have to listen to each beautifully recorded note under a sonic microscope. Something like Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue fits that bill.
In the newly posted video below, Dream Theater guitarist John Petrucci discusses and demos Ernie Ball's M-Steel guitar strings. Ernie Ball calls the strings, which were introduced earlier this year, "the world's loudest, most expressive strings ever created."
“Before that, I played guitar a little bit, but it was mostly about playing drop-D power chords. Nothing serious. But the possibilities of what music could be expanded so much after I heard Scenes from a Memory. It was a mind fuck. I stopped playing drums and took guitar seriously. I sat down and learned as much of the solos and riffs on that album as I could. That’s how I started developing my chops.
“I was also blown away by how a three-piece band could sound so majestic and huge and play in a style that’s inherently rock and roll yet still pushes the boundaries of what they’re doing musically—this idea of being experimental, using different time signatures and not really being concerned about song length and traditional constraints. I can’t tell you how huge of an impact that had on me. 2112 basically set the course for my musical career and how I approached Dream Theater.”
As I have discussed in previous columns, I often use triadic arpeggio forms within my riffs and solos as a tool to create rich-sounding, poly-chordal sounds. I’d like to continue in that vein in this month’s column by presenting different ways in which to move from one arpeggio form to another.
If you happen to have a few spare minutes — consider checking out this video of a band called Plastica performing Dream Theater's “Erotomania” using cheap musical instruments that were made for children.
Here’s a blast from the past. A young John Petrucci accompanies Dream Theater singer James LaBrie in this tenderly performed acoustic version of “Another Day.” Yes, the audio is spotty, but it’s worth checking out nonetheless.
This month, I’m going to demonstrate how one can utilize simple triadic shapes and patterns in order to imply more complex and varied chord qualities. I find this to be a very cool and useful improvisational tool, because you can apply it to playing over either a chord progression that you want to outline melodically or over a static pedal tone.
Over the years, people have noticed that when I play certain runs, my fingers move in the opposite direction of the notes that they hear. For example, as my fret hand moves up the fretboard, the sequence of notes that is heard descends (and vice versa).