CARL VERHEYEN Part 4
Carl continues his masterclass series with a solo that fluctuates between C and E flat. Milton Mermikides transcribes.
Carl delivers another jaw-dropping first-take solo over a track he’s never before heard!
improvisation – and musicianship - in a wide range of styles, and enough material for even professional guitarists to work on for years.
I’ve transcribed Carl’s improvisation over Jason Sidwell’s pop fusion backing called Ambient Groove (In C). Despite the title, it actually fluctuates between two key centres Eb (Ebmaj7-Fm7-Bb-Gm7) and C (Cmaj7-C). In this session type environment Carl draws on a huge vocabularly of melodic material, spontaneously building an engaging solo, with chops to spare, and sounds like he could continue indefinitely weaving inventive melodies through the chords. In particular he shows an ability to not only work with the chord sequence but draw out really beautiful harmonic implications.
Carl employs different strategies for each chord, in order to to keep the solo fresh. On the Ebmaj7 he uses a combination of Eb Major scale (bar 21, bars 61-62), an implication of C Minor with chromaticism (bar 45), and Pentatonic components (Eb major Pentatonic (C minor Pentatonic) (bars 41-42) and G minor Pentatonic (bars 2 and 53). The C major 7 gets similar treatment, and collectively one can see that Carl’s soloing strategies include: • Major scale or major Pentatonic on root of
chord • Minor scale (with chromaticism)/Pentatonic
on 6th degree of chord • Major Pentatonic on 5th of chord (bars 51
and 57) • Minor Pentatonic on 3rd degree of chord • Occasional use of Mixolydian/Blues on root
of chord (bar 31-32) • Minor scale on root of chord • Minor Pentatonic on root of chord • Minor Blues on root. And that’s in this piece alone (he uses others in the various tracks he did for GT). Knowing these approaches, and of course having fretboard knowledge and vocabularly for these scales, can enhance your soloing options vastly.
Carl uses his characteristic string-skipping ideas which breathe life into otherwise familiar Pentatonicism. For example bars 8 , 15 and 43 show how C (and G) major Pentatonic (and some connecting Major scales) can be played in ultra-wide melodic phrases around the fretboard.
Rather than seeing the key areas as isolated harmonic islands, Carl knows exactly which notes change between chords, so there is a melodic fluency and logic to chord transitions. See for example the transition from Bar 20 to 21, where a similar motif connects the transition from Cmaj7 to Ebmaj7, or the Bb to B natural in the bent phrase from bars 46 to 47.
Control over the guitar adds an important layer of expression. Subtle articulations such as slightly shortened or muted notes (which escape even the most detailed transcription) are really important to the vibe. Also notice his habit of flicking the pickup selector from neck to bridge - even just for one note – to add a little bite when needed. And finally, Carl uses the vibrato bar to add a type of vibrato and bending colour that is impossible with just fingers, and is really worth exploring in your playing. See in particular bar 38 and bars 56-61.
This solo is extremely instructive, and even if some of the chops are beyond your current technical level, there is still a huge amount of melodic and stylistic inspiration to be gained from Carl’s solos and approach.
even if some chops are beyond you now, there is still a huge amount of inspiration to gain.