Carl Verheyen mas­ter­class

Mil­ton Mer­mikides wel­comes you to the penul­ti­mate in­stal­ment of Carl Verheyen’s mas­ter­class se­ries, where he so­los over a latin funk track.

Guitar Techniques - - LESSON: VIDEO -

blues and rock to deep fu­sion (in­clud­ing mu­si­cians from Dolly Par­ton to Al­lan Holdsworth - about the widest popular mu­sic span imag­in­able). For this se­ries, we asked Carl to record a se­ries of so­los in one short ses­sion, with only one lis­ten through and a sim­ple chord chart to guide him. What he demon­strated con­sis­tently was an in­cred­i­ble melodic sense, im­pro­vi­sa­tional knack, tech­ni­cal pro­fi­ciency and stylis­tic di­ver­sity.

In this ar­ti­cle I’ve tran­scribed Carl’s im­pro­vi­sa­tion over a Latin funk track com­posed by Ja­son Sid­well. It’s at a medium tempo of 112bpm and is based on this 32-bar re­peat­ing form: F/A-Am-Dm7-Bb­maj7-Am7-Dm7Bb­maj7-E7. Es­sen­tially we have mi­nor and ma­jor chords with one dom­i­nant chord. Carl pro­vides an as­ton­ish­ing mas­ter­class in how to nav­i­gate th­ese chords, us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ma­jor and mi­nor Pen­ta­ton­ics, melodic mo­tifs and widely spaced arpeg­gio ideas. Here’s a run­down of the prime ap­proaches in this solo:

Pen­ta­toni­cism (with some blue notes) is ev­i­dent through­out. Ma­jor Pen­ta­tonic for the ma­jor chords, mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic for the mi­nor chords. How­ever he colours th­ese scales with the use of the 9th on the mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic (bar 17) and the ma­jor 7 on ma­jor 7th chords (bars 22 and 39). He also uses mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic and mi­nor Blues for the E7 chords (bars 31-2, 63-4), but a 4th above the root, so A mi­nor Pen­ta­tonic or Blues, which gives th­ese dra­matic mo­ments a much blue­sier edge.

Pen­ta­toni­cism might seem like a limited ap­proach to gui­tar play­ing, but if you ob­serve pas­sages like bars 41-42 or 53-54, you’ll see that Carl uses th­ese five notes in end­lessly cre­ative ways; here the scale is bro­ken up into wide un­singable melodies to cre­ate more of a fu­sion, rather than blues, ap­proach.

What is also in ev­i­dence is Carl’s im­pres­sive abil­ity to main­tain in­ter­est­ing semi­qua­ver lines at this tempo, and his abil­ity to shift po­si­tions within a phrase so flu­ently that it’s easy to miss it. See for ex­am­ple bars 57-60, where a sin­gle un­bro­ken phrase starts at 10th po­si­tion and moves seam­lessly down to open and back to 5th po­si­tion. This sort of

Verheyen pro­vides an as­ton­ish­ing mas­ter­class in how to nav­i­gate th­ese fun­da­men­tal chords us­ing a com­bi­na­tion of ideas.

flu­ency in lead im­pro­vi­sa­tion re­quires decades of gui­tar ex­pe­ri­ence!

You might also no­tice that Carl has a habit of switch­ing the pickup se­lec­tor from neck to bridge just for one note, to cre­ate more of a bite to the tone, and uses the whammy bar to add be­guil­ing vi­brato, a vo­cal qual­ity and to reach oth­er­wise un­reach­able notes (bar 60).

As with ev­ery solo of this se­ries, this im­pro­vi­sa­tion is hugely in­struc­tive, and if you man­age to get in­side the me­chan­ics and the­ory of the solo rather than sim­ply copy­ing it note for note, it will pro­vide you with years of in­spi­ra­tion!

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