Hi folks, in this new column I wanted to take you behind the making of my new album "From The Blindside", both in terms of inspiration and the techniques involved in the songs. Hopefully this will give you an insight into my approach to songwriting and execution. Please enjoy!
For the title track, which happens to be the opener, I wanted something powerful right out of the gate. This starts with a heavy intro with a quirky Steve Morse inspired intro lead break which leads to a strong main melody. This tune makes full use of changing time signatures, primarily 7/4, 6/4 and 6/8. The choruses feature some serious use of tapping and unorthodox pentatonic licks. This song is heavily inspired by Steve Morse, and John Petrucci, with a little George Lynch on the ride out solo.
This tune has been kicking around since around 1998. I have performed this live many times so when it came time to finally put it on a record I changed around some things. This has a very heavy main riff with a seriously quirky whammy filled second verse. Some interesting heavy unison parts in the bridge making use of the melodic minor scale, leading to a solo section heavy on dynamics. The inspiration for the tune was definitely the brilliant guitar work of Ronnie Le Tekro of TNT and the equally brilliant work of Savatage's Criss Oliva. This is an example of blending straight up hard rock with some more progressive ideas.
This is another song that's been around a while, but thankfully it didn't make "What Lies Beyond Words". I say thankfully because I was able to up the shred factor significantly. The title comes from the feeling I get when hearing the main melody. It is good music to snowboard to, or watch extreme sports on your big screen. The solo on this song is equal parts EVH and Steve Vai. The rhythm guitars are very inspired by George Lynch. In fact I wrote the rough idea for this song when I was 14 years old. It is just a straight up kicking hard rock tune.
I could spend all day talking about the various tools used by great players, but this article isn't called everything there is to know, it's what you really need to know. You can pretty much narrow down the scales that you need to pentatonic, and diatonic scales. Remember that diatonic scales include your modes, so don't think you're getting off that easy. You should learn to play all of the pentatonic and diatonic scales in every position and in every key. Also try to understand the modal implications of what you are playing. I find that often times the cerebral part of guitar playing gets completely forgotten. Other tools such as: arpeggios, doublestops, harmonic minor, melodic minor, diminished, etc. are incredibly helpful, but not entirely necessary.
This song was originally written for a pop band I was in called The Morning After. Then I wrestled it back into an instrumental tune. I added the long improvised breaks to up the guitar factor. I love the dynamics and melody of this tune. There is some shredding in here but it is always with the melody at its core. The rhythm guitar features the acoustic quite heavily, and it is really the driving force of the song. This song is inspired by equal parts Joe Satriani and Dave Matthews band.
The title of this song is a tweak on the '70s nostalgia that was going on in the late '90s. It is a play on "I'm Your Boogie Man" by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. The music is pure hard rock boogie. The intro has a pretty scary 3 note per string pentatonic lick which leads to the main rhythm. The bridge has a cool contrapuntal riff which leads to a wah drenched solo. The rhythm guitars in the solo section are totally inspired by Criss Oliva. The solos give big time nods to EVH and Steve Vai on this tune.
Funny title aside this is a very funky and groovy yet heavy song. I get very fusion-y in the solo section making use of Lydian dominant and whole tone scales. This then leads to a bluesy and shreddy rock solo. The main groove was very inspired by guitarist Jeff Tyson and his band T-Ride. There are some tunes on that record which to me really raise the bar for rock rhythm guitar. That is what I tried to go for here. I wanted the rhythm guitars to be just as interesting as the solos.
This is a blues inspired melody and relaxed groove. I wanted to play very soulfully on this with a long improvised outro solo. The title is about the way we travel through life. Keeping things in perspective and always looking to the future with hope and courage.
Another song that is all about the melody and dynamics that features a long solo section that goes through a few different feels. My bassist Brian was totally channeling Tony Levin on this tune, particularly in the intro and outro sections. This one was inspired by my beautiful wife Jennifer.
I broke out my 7 string for this one. It is equal parts progressive metal, thrash, and shred. In the opening guitar solo piece I played a sextuplet run making use of all seven strings. In the second solo I wanted to do some pretty wild sweep picking, and in the solo after the odd time section I used eight finger tapping. A very heavy and dynamic song. The title comes from an image I had of punching someone in the face and leaving an imprint.
I played this tune for the outro of my instructional DVD. It is another boogie based tune with a heavy shred factor. This song is very Steve Vai inspired. The title is a play on the fact that the song is pretty ostentatious. It is completely over the top. In other words it has a lot of Bling!
This is a song that is all about mood and feel. I knew I wanted the tune to be loose with the exception of the main melody. I played this in one take with the exception of the main solo. The main melody and solos were all done in one take. I kept the chords simple to make a nice bed for the melody guitars. It is inspired by a trip I took to Bodega bay which is north of San Francisco with my wife when we were first dating. It was a life changing feel to fall in love and be in a place so beautiful. I closed my eyes pushed record and what you hear on this track is what came out.
A two handed piece I used to use to open shows with. This has been around for a while and I decided to put it on the record because I like the texture of how it ended the CD. I remember Joe Satriani and Steve Vai used to have tracks that weren't just shredding but cool little pieces of music all their own. This is just a little tone poem to see you off until the next record.
I hope you enjoyed this look behind the new CD. Talk to you next time!
Scott Allen is a 1996 graduate of the Musician's Institute, G.I.T. He currently teaches guitar to 65 to 70 students weekly at Northridge Music Center.
His latest CD is entitled "III", featuring his impressively fluid playing, with a style marked by an incendiary sense of phrasing.
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