John Wheatcroft takes a look at the incendiary syle of American blues giant Walter Trout, who is thankfully on the mend after a serious illness.
John Wheatcroft offers insight into the tasty, fier y blues technique of Walter Trout.
EXAMPLE WALteR tRoUt
[Bars 1- 4] We begin with some Dominant 7th phrases in E that could be considered to be a combination of Minor Pentatonic (R b3 4 5 b7), plus major 3rd (G#) and then Minor 6th Pentatonic (R b3 4 5 6). The repetitious hammeron and pull- off phrase in bar 3 is a par ticular Trout specialit y, and you can hear similar ideas in the playing of the late blues-rock ace, Gar y Moore. [Bars 5-8] We transition to A7 here by selecting notes that outline an A9 arpeggio (A C# E G B), before moving to some E Minor Pentatonic ideas over A. The open-string Blues scale ideas in bars 7-8 (R b3 4 b5 5 b7) are reminiscent of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan or brother Jimmie. [Bars 9-12] You’d be wrong to think that it is only jaz z players that outline the changes with their melodic choices, as these Walter-st yle turnaround bars ably illustrate. We’re framing in both B7 (B D# F# A) and A7 (A C# E G) chords with their appropriate chord tones and some choice embellishments typical of Trout. Even the D in bar 12 could be considered as the enharmonic equivalent of B7’s #9 (officially a Cx, where x = ##). The low E (which is of course the root of the Dominant or V chord) that ends this chorus is no doubt an indication that we’ve not yet finished and we’re going around the block, back to the I chord at least one more time.
[Bars 13-16] Walter’s broom gets a bit of dusting here as he gives us ‘the’ Elmore James lick, although this time in standard tuning and with no slide. The second answering half of this phrase sounds rather Chuck Berr y-like, with a combination of double-stops and bends. A characteristic of Walter’s E-form box-position Pentatonic phrasing is his fondness for incorporating a high double-stop on both first and second strings while adding legato embellishments such as in bar 16 and… [Bars 17-20] …exactly like we see here in bar 18. Make sure you approach your vibrato with intensit y and width during this solo. Walter’s is ver y wide for a blues player, and is a fair bit slower than many imagine, giving gravitas and authority to his long, held notes, whereas the shallow and speedy variet y can sound ner vous and a little weak. Walter’s playing of ten bridges this gap between blues and rock, to create a st yle of hybrid music he jokingly refers to as ‘Fred’.
[Bars 21-24] Walter uses double-stops to outline the move from B7 to A7 here, with a brief chromatic descent at the end of bar 21 before spelling out A7 with E Minor 6/A9 Pentatonic (E G A B C#) and we return to a variation on our hammer-on, pull-off pattern in bar 23 that we encountered back in bar 3. Some of this is prett y speedy so, if you’re struggling, break the lick s down into much smaller chunks and learn them slowly. Speed will come naturally.