STE­VIE RAY VAUGHAN

The Sky Is Cry­ing

Guitar Techniques - - Guitar Techniques -

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.

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