In the late 60's, Ritchie Blackmore combined his classical training with the sound of Heavy Metal to help give birth to the genre known as neoclassical rock. The evolution of virtuoso guitar playing throughout the 70's came from all over the US and Europe. German players like Michael Schenker (Scorpions, UFO) and Uli Jon Roth (Scorpions), brought a level of chops and flair to their music that definitely owed just as much to the legacy of European classical composers as it did to American and British blues players. By the late 70's, Edward Van Halen and Randy Rhoads effectively put the US on the neoclassical map with hi-tech classically inspired solos that opened the gates for the coming invasion from Sweden courtesy of Yngwie J. Malmsteen.
Angus Clark’s Neoclassical Rock Soloing edition of Essentials focuses on the techniques, patterns, and soloing approaches that are characteristic of the NEO Classical style as made famous by Ritchie Blackmore, Yngwie Malmsteen, Uli John Roth, Paul Gilbert and many others.
You’ll study different types of arpeggios, single string patterns, string skipping arpeggios, harmony parts, the Mixolydian mode, and how to combine blues-based improvisational approaches with classical sequences. You’ll work on a Bach-inspired study and learn how to attack the string like a violin player. You’ll explore some of Blackmore’s signature phrasing, learn several sweep arpeggios in the NEO classical style, and work on applying the harmonic minor scale in your rock solos.
Angus prepared 10 soloing studies that cover the most widely used chord progressions, keys, and tempos in the genre. For each performance study, Angus will first demonstrate the solo and then break it down for you note-by-note.
The Men in Black - ”The first study is in E minor. The bass pedals an E while the organ plays an Emin - D - C chord progression over it. We'll be looking at three different styles of arpeggios that are characteristic of Yngwie and Blackmore and how they can be used in a solo. Please pay close attention to the picking hand during this exercise. I, like a lot of players, very often make inconsistent choices about how I pick. For certain techniques, however, a specific choice about how to pick your way through the passage will unlock the whole thing for you. Also please take note of my decision to switch pickups. I'm usually not a fan of momentary pickup selection changes - I think it can be distracting if it's done too often. In this case, it corresponds to a change in the register.”
Piano Music - ”This is in G major, and it's modeled on how the Trans-Siberian Orchestra draws inspiration from some of the great composers like Mozart and Beethoven. Listen for the sixteenth note feel during the scale passages. This is extremely important and something that a lot of players focused on technical playing overlook. Please note that the 16th note feel is really important to how this piece sounds. The first two chords are addressed using arpeggios and scales. The scale work is done using pull-offs. The last run makes use of an open string to cover a position shift which is a very classical technique.”
Chaconne Etude - ”My teacher growing up was a guy named Michael Kucsak, and he had me tighten up my reading chops by playing through the entirety of the Bach Sonatas and Partitas for the Violin, so I've had the stuff in my fingers from age 15. This was always my favorite, and the classical guys shred it, so the neoclassical guys should too! Spinal Tap reference here for the win. Most of this piece is not that speedy, except for the sweeps I guess. The main thing to glean from this is how the targeting works and how motivic development is employed throughout.”
Single Stringer - ”Yngwie loves the single-string patterns, so here's a nice one! There are two patterns at play here, first the single-string pattern, then a string skipping arpeggio pattern which uses hammers and pulls a great deal. n the accompanying video, there's a nice explanation of how the single string pattern works over the chord progression. Technically there are some interesting fingering choices during this section. The string skipping section has a similar explanation that has a pretty cool segment about how an A diminished triad can be applied over both an F7 chord and an Am7b5 chord - gives you something to talk about with your jazz friends.”
Second Stringer - ”This etude is a harmony part and countermelody to "Single Stringer" Playing in harmony with another guitarist is always challenging, even when the other guitarist is just you on another track. Finding the harmony part a third above the original part usually works and is one of the most obvious choices. The counter-melody section is more interesting as it speaks to our ability to compose, and it's a great workaround to trying to figure out the harmony arpeggios, which can be super-challenging.”
Four Giants - ”Now let's spend some time with the "Four Giants": Ritchie, Yngwie, Michael Schenker, and Paul Gilbert. The first run is based on a Paul Gilbert pattern, I'm just shifting positions with each repetition so that the starting note is a chord tone over an E chord. The second passage is a more psychedelic sounding E Mixolydian motif that uses pull-offs and slides. Then, there's an open string pedal point lick on the high E string. Very Blackmore. Next, we use an Yngwie pattern for the chord changes, and then we GO FULL SCHENKER! Play your minor pent blues licks, but take the third major every time it appears.”
In the Fire - ”This etude, "In the Fire", will show you some more Blackmore stuff! As you watch this, please recognize there are three distinct sections: Part 1 is mostly blues based, with a couple of distinct Blackmore licks. Part 2 is a classical sounding sequence lick that I'm doing all on one string (it got really complicated when I tried to play it in position). Part 3 is another signature Blackmore line. From a compositional standpoint, we are referencing Deep Purple where there is a vamp that the soloist can just improvise over, and then there is a composed section where the soloist is going to play something worked out.”
Not Lazy - ”Here's some more Blackmore stuff! As noted in the last example, Blackmore favors finding the root with his pinky on the 5th string, and the first lick in this example is no exception. This little repeater is a signature part of the solo on "Lazy" and it shows up elsewhere as well in the Blackmore catalog. It's easy and fun to play. This is another descending progression in a minor key (hot tip!) which turns around on the V chord. The turnaround is a great opportunity for harmonic minor licks and/or diminished arpeggios licks.”
Sweep It Up - ”Let's get sweeping with "Sweep It Up"! Same feel as the previous etude, but the chord progression is a bit more involved. This solo is another example of having one pass through the progression that's very worked out and the other section be a bit more freeform and expressive. Of the two sections, I really enjoy the second section more, but hey, that's me. This little melody is another example of motivic development, one of my favorite things. The last lick is created simply by trilling on the half steps in the harmonic minor scale.”
The Desert - ”On this one, make sure you're thinking pyramids and sand dunes and stuff! There are two sections to the piece, the opening melodic break and then the more down-dynamic vamp, which is an Yngwie-inspired bit of carpet that you can noodle around the harmonic minor scale on. And that's what we're gonna do! We're playing the pickup to the downbeat, so get it right and keep it in time! The downbeat is on a bent note - so bend it in tune!”
All of the performance studies are tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. You’ll also get Guitar Pro files so that you can play, loop and/or slow down the tab and notation as you work through the lessons. Plus, Angus includes all of the backing tracks for you to work with on your own.
Grab your guitar and let’s get neoclassical with Angus Clark!