Level: Intermediate - Advanced
I remember getting "The World Needs a Hero" album and feeling a bit "meh" about the whole thing. Then one of my students said "Listen to 'Dread and the Fugitive Mind.' The solo is great and it ISN'T Marty!" I was like "Not Marty, not interested..." but I persisted and this happens to now be one of my favourite Megadeth songs!
Al uses a lot of pentatonics and legato in this solo. None of the concepts are too far fetched but you do need patience when it comes to building up the speed to nail this. As usual we'll break the solo down into problematic sections. I'll leave a tab for the solo and a link to the YouTube lesson at the bottom of the article.
Section 1 TipsThe thing I love about Al Pitrelli's use of the blue note/flat fifth in a pentatonic is how he puts it on the 2nd string instead of the 3rd (see diagrams below).
Regular Pentatonic w/b5
Pitrelli Pentatonic w/b5
This subtle change in placement enables you to voice the flat fifth note in a slightly different manner than what we usually see in the conventional pentatonic shapes. Let's take a look at the main lick in the first section of this solo. (See excerpt below)
There's a few more cheeky accidentals in there that we don't usually see in the "E" minor pentatonic (F# and Eb) but they sound great in this phrase. Don't rush it and pay close attention to legato emphasis. Try implementing this placement of the flat fifth into your own improvised or written soloing.
Section 2 TipsI found the hardest part of section 2 was the fast pentatonic run at the end of it. It uses some pretty fast pulloffs and also a stretched pinky within the pentatonic. Let's take a look at the lick itself (see excerpt below).
It's only 2 note per string pulloffs so it's not too difficult, however the quickly picked semiquavers at the end of the bar did throw me a little as your essentially jumping from legato to staccato. Take your time focusing on these separate emphasises and also building speed slowly if your initial attempts sounds a little unclear/rushed or sloppy.
Section 3 TipsThis section involves a pretty cool legato lick with kind of a hybrid of a blues pentatonic with a flat five and a diatonic "E" Dorian scale.
I refer to this as somewhat of a hybrid scale as it uses an "E" minor pentatonic shape but adds a Bb (flat 5th), a C# (raised 6th) and an F# (minor 2nd) which are all outside the conventional 1-3-4-5-7 pentatonic. Once you're comfortable enough with the shape we can tackle the lick itself! (See excerpt below).
Pay close attention to legato emphasis and string changes. What really makes Pitrelli's licks sound awesome is a combination of speed and smoothness within legato licks such a this. Keep those concepts in mind when you are practicing this.
Section 4 TipsThis next section deals with a pretty cool scale shape and cool phrasing involving some slides and legato. Let's take a look at the full scale first (see diagram below).
A few things to mention are that the scale has quite an obvious position shift and a few notes double up when the same note is played on 2 different strings. Once you get your head around this shape we can tackle the lick properly (see excerpt below).
This lick is almost entirely semiquavers so the timing is nice and consistent. I think it's best to tackle this phrase 8 notes at a time and pay close attention to legato, slides and position shifts which can be very confusing in the early stages of practicing.
Section 5 TipsThe last section has 2 pretty awesome licks. The first one is a pretty fast 1 string legato lick (see excerpt below).
As you can see you only pick the first note of this lick and the rest is all legato. There's no string changing, however the pattern on the fretting hand is a little bit confusing. Take this lick slowly and build it up until the fretting hand pattern becomes muscle memory.
The last little lick starts with a few quick arpeggios. The timing is pretty cool (see excerpt below).
As you can see we pull off the first 2 notes of each arpeggio as semiquavers and end on a quaver. Once you get the emphasis right this lick is awesome.
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Have fun with this one guys and happy shredding!
By Chris Zoupa.