Watch the The Animal online guitar lesson by Steve Vai from Alien Guitar Secrets: Passion & Warfare
In this video segment, Steve shares background and key insights related to The Animal. In the following text, Steve talks about the Naked Track for The Animal and how you might approach working with it.
Form: The basic form of the track is the same as the recorded version, but the solo section is extended (and rightfully so). It should never end and if you put a loop on it...it never has to.
The cue to get out of it is when you hear the reverend shout, "Let'em go!!!" Then the track jumps into the weighty E chord change. From there on out, it's hammer time.
Key(s): The gist of the song is in D Pentatonic Blues. The solo section basically spells out a D Dorian flavor: D, E, F, G, A B, C, D (same as C major).
FX: For the guitar sound there was a Whammy Pedal used that was set to a 5th down. The fingering of the main rhythm feels like the key of A minor, but with the harmonizer set a 5th lower it changes the tonality to D minor. If you try to play it without the harmonizer, you may want to learn the lower melody line to keep the tonality. However, using a harmonizer on this melody makes your testosterone level increase by 48 lipids.
What was I thinking?: This was the last track recorded for Passion and Warfare (at the last minute) and it went down the quickest...probably 2 days total. The main harmonizer riff came to me in a thought rather than an experiment. I immediately heard the whole track come together in my head.
What could you be thinking?: The thing that's nice about this solo section is that it offers up an opportunity to be somewhat jazzy, in a rocky way. Try to find tasty notes and phrases that are outside of what you might normally do, when you just use your bluesy rock bag of tricks. As far as playing the melody, it's about attitude. How hard and violent can you vibrate those notes, while staying in control and not bending them out of tune? It's a fine line and on this one, you should explore your sexiest finger work (in the privacy of your own room).
About Naked Tracks
Through the years, whenever I would mix my records I would usually do a mix of specific songs without the lead guitar. This allowed me to play along with the track or make loops to jam to, and because I figured perhaps someday maybe others would like to do the same. Voila! We have arrived at someday.
Playing to these naked tracks, or creating loops of various sections to endlessly meander over, is a phenomenal way to discover unique musical ideas from within yourself.
For the most part, the tracks in this series are presented in their original form with the lead guitar removed. In some cases, I looped some solo sections to give you an opportunity to stretch out.
I suggest you import these files into a sequencer program of sorts, such as ProTools, GarageBand, etc. and create loops of various parts of the songs to jam over. On many tracks, a hit or count-off was added to the intro to indicate where the song starts. On some tracks, a small portion of the original melody guitar may have been tacked onto the intro as a guide.
One way to play along with these tracks is to learn the original guitar parts that are on the album versions of the songs (for full transcriptions and notation, pick up the Passion & Warfare Songbook published by Hal Leonard), but I would encourage you to take a more active role in using these tracks as a bed to lay your own creative interpretation over.
There are really no rules. So sit back, flip on a naked track and dress it up with your own artistic musical apparel.