RED HOT CHILI PEP­PERS Par­al­lel Uni­verse

Join Steve Allsworth as he nav­i­gates a par­al­lel uni­verse while hon­ing your al­ter­nate pick­ing ac­cu­racy. It’s got a fab­u­lous Fx-laden solo too!

Guitar Techniques - - Contents -

Steve Allsworth has tran­scribed an awe­some Chilis’ sin­gle, also fea­tured on their clas­sic al­bum Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion, for elec­tric gui­tar.

Par­al­lel Uni­verse first ap­peared as a pro­mo­tional sin­gle on the Red Hot Chili Pep­pers’ al­bum Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion (1999) and has since be­come one of the band’s most en­dur­ing live tracks. It’s some­thing of a de­par­ture from their trade­mark funk-laden grooves and in­stead fea­tures a repet­i­tive osti­nato pat­tern played by har­monised bass and gui­tar. The al­bum was pro­duced by Rick Ru­bin and is seen by many fans as a re­turn to form af­ter the com­mer­cialy dis­ap­point­ing One Hot Minute (1995).

Its artis­tic and commercial suc­cess was in ma­jor part due to the re­turn of gui­tarist John Fr­us­ciante, who had pre­vi­ously ap­peared on Mother’s Milk (1989) and Blood Su­gar Sex Magik (1991). He had shock­ingly left the band mid-tour in 1992 af­ter be­com­ing dis­il­lu­sioned with their global sta­tus, but af­ter his re­place­ment Dave Navarro was fired in 1998, was asked to re­turn to the fold. He had re­cently com­pleted a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram for heroin ad­dic­tion and was clearly in a health­ier place. The re­sul­tant al­bum spawned hits such as the ti­tle track, and the Grammy award-win­ning Scar Tis­sue.

On Blood Su­gar, I fo­cused on Jimi Hen­drix. On Cal­i­for­ni­ca­tion, I went to the side of Bernard Sum­mer [Joy Di­vi­sion] or Mathew Ash­man [Bow Wow Wow]; people with colourful styles that did not use notes sig­nif­i­cant to the blues. John Fr­us­ciante

The lat­ter is well-known by gui­tarists for its use of the mi­nor and ma­jor 10th in­ter­val, and a sim­i­lar ap­proach to di­a­tonic har­mony is taken in this month’s fea­tured track. Bass and gui­tar gen­er­ally har­monise in 3rds, but the 10th in­ter­val gap is quite large be­tween the two in­stru­ments, which is more pleas­ing to the ear than close 3rds. The track is also in a mi­nor key, so the clas­sic ‘bor­rowed’ V chord from the har­monic mi­nor scale is used to pro­vide a stronger cadence at the end of each eight-bar phrase in the verses. This es­sen­tially turns a weaker di­a­tonic mi­nor chord into a stronger dom­i­nant 7 chord (you can hear this when Fr­us­ciante hits the ma­jor 3rd of G, which is B nat­u­ral). This track is all about rhyth­mic co­or­di­na­tion be­tween bass and gui­tar, so you should pay par­tic­u­lar and con­stant at­ten­tion to main­tain­ing even pick strokes. A slightly loose and fluid wrist will help to avoid the pick get­ting ‘stuck’ un­der the strings, but keep­ing the pick fairly flat through the down­stroke will help to avoid any un­due heav­i­ness.

An­other com­mon fault can be a slight swing rhythm rather than the nice even 16ths we are af­ter. This is usu­ally down to un­wit­tingly play­ing longer down­strokes and shorter up­strokes, of­ten be­cause palm­mut­ing causes an un­ex­pected change in tech­nique. These move­ments ob­vi­ously need to be ex­actly the same, so it can be use­ful to watch your play­ing in a mir­ror to avoid any un­nec­es­sary an­gles or un­to­ward move­ments in your pick­ing hand.

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