STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
The Sky Is Crying
Jon Bishop transcribes Stevie Ray’s most haunting blues classic, from the legendary album of the same name!
This track has a 12/8 time signature and a shuffle feel. The 12 quavers are grouped in four lots of three so a full bar of 12/8 is counted 1 and a, 2 and a, 3 and a, 4 and a.
For much of the lead work SRV uses the C minor pentatonic scale as home base and then adds various colour tones and chromatic notes. If you study the notation you will notice he is particularly fond of the b5 (Gb) and also the 9th (D). Throughout the song, SRV tips the hat to both Jimi Hendrix and Albert King and plays tasteful ‘question and answer’ phrases in between the vocal lines.
Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar tone is the stuff of legends and is the product of several different factors.The first factor is his down tuning of the guitar to Eb which provides a fatter, darker tone. Down tuning also provides a slacker string tension, which allows for heavy gauge strings to be fitted and this considerably bolsters the tone.
The second factor is high output, singlecoil pickups, which help to drive the amplifier’s front end into a singing overdrive.
Lots of times I’ll play lead and rhythm together Stevie Ray Vaughan
To help with playability, higher, fatter frets can be fitted, and this aids string bending and finger vibrato, both of which are key elements in Stevie Ray’s lead style.
The third factor is the use of valve amplifiers (often Fender or Dumble), turned up loud and the Ibanez Tube Screamer pedal, which was used for extra boost.
If you listen to SRV’s original recording of The Sky Is Crying you will notice that the guitar and bass are de-tuned by a semitone, so even though Stevie is playing in C position on the guitar, the notes are heard in the key of B. We’ve transcribed and recorded the track at concert pitch to allow you to learn the tune and practise it without the need to re-tune. If you wish to play along with the original recording, then use all the same fingerings as in the tab but simply detune your guitar as follows: Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Bb, Eb.
You can use the backing track to practice all your blues ideas, and it would be a good work-out to play your own, SRV tinged, solo using some of the ideas from the original track. Have fun and see you next time. Many thanks to Pete Riley for performing and recording the drums.