On its sil­ver an­niver­sary Char­lie Grif­fiths pays trib­ute to one of the great­est guitar al­bums of all time: Steve Vai’s epic Pas­sion & War­fare.

Guitar Techniques - - CONTENTS -

Char­lie Grif­fiths pays homage to Steve Vai on the 25th an­niver­sary of Pas­sion & War­fare.

This Grammy-nom­i­nated 1990 re­lease came five years af­ter Steve Vai’s de­but solo al­bum Flex-able. With its cre­ative song­writ­ing, pris­tine pro­duc­tion and jaw-drop­ping skill it’s hard to be­lieve that Pas­sion And War­fare was his sec­ond re­lease.

Of course, Steve was al­ready a sea­soned live per­former and ses­sion gui­tarist, hav­ing had a stint with Frank Zappa on the al­bums, You Are What You Is, Ship Ar­riv­ing Too Late To Save A Drown­ing Witch and Them Or Us – to name but a few. Steve’s David Lee Roth pe­riod be­gan in 1986, when he recorded one of the great­est rock records of the decade, Eat ’Em And Smile. Steve is awe-in­spir­ing, and ar­guably steals the lime­light from one of rock’s most charis­matic front­men. Prov­ing he could step into the shoes of Ed­die Van Halen was a huge boost to Steve’s ca­reer and ex­posed him to a wider main­stream au­di­ence.

The au­di­ence was cer­tainly lis­ten­ing in Septem­ber 1990 when Pas­sion And War­fare was un­leashed on the world’s un­sus­pect­ing guitar nerds. Like Sa­tri­ani’s Surf­ing With The Alien three years ear­lier, the al­bum re­de­fined what in­stru­men­tal guitar mu­sic could be. Not only was it heavy with tracks like Erotic Night­mares, but it was also fun and tongue in cheek with The Au­di­ence Is Lis­ten­ing. Of course, For The Love Of God was so packed full of emo­tion that it could make grown men weep into their fret­boards.

With the fol­low­ing ex­am­ples we look at some of the tech­niques and ap­proaches used through­out the record, start­ing with a heavy syn­co­pated riff that re­quires deft al­ter­nate pick­ing and string-skip­ping chops, which com­bine to cre­ate a tight and punchy ef­fect. Ex­am­ple 2’s con­trary mo­tion ef­fect in­volves play­ing an ascending dou­ble-stop melody while si­mul­ta­ne­ously play­ing a de­scend­ing bassline. Our next ex­am­ple em­u­lates Steve’s ‘har­moniser’ sounds, adding ma­jor 6th and a per­fect 4th, along with some de­lay to cre­ate a ping-pong ef­fect - you’ll see in­struc­tions on how to cre­ate the ef­fect. Ex­am­ples 4 and 5 fo­cus on Steve’s clean and funky rhythm.

Fi­nally, we have a big solo bal­lad piece with note choices shift­ing be­tween F Ly­dian and E Do­rian - both bright and pos­i­tive sound­ing modes. Ex­pres­sive­ness is ev­ery­thing when it comes to de­liv­er­ing a Vai-style melody; ev­ery nuance from the vi­brato, to pinched har­mon­ics, to whammy bar scoops and gar­gles is care­fully placed, but should never seem gim­micky. Prac­tise the solo in short sec­tions fo­cus­ing on con­nect­ing the tech­niques to­gether nat­u­rally and – as Steve would tell you – above all, mu­si­cally.

for the love of god was So packed full of emo­tion it made grown men weep into their fret­boards!

NEXT MONTH Char­lie looks at US hard rock band Winger fea­tur­ing Rob Beach

Steve Vai: with his iconic seven string Ibanez Jem

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