New Jason Becker Post And A Lesson In Adaptation

Hello everyone!

I’ve been working on a number of things (and dealing with some substantive setbacks), but I wanted to take a moment and post a lesson as I haven’t had one of those up in a while.

Jason Becker Documentary is now available!

Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, is a fantastic new documentary that’s made the rounds through the festival circuit and is now available for purchase for a download from Alive Mind Media.  If you play guitar, have ever faced adversity or want/need to see an incredibly inspiring story, I can’t recommend the documentary enough.

[vimeo: 39405460]

I’ve just written an article about the new movie (with a lesson/analysis of one of Jason’s compositions in the film) for Guitar-Muse that can be read here on the website.

As a companion piece to that article, I’ve got a short lick below that works on some techniques that I have outlined here, but offers something challenging at the same time.

A lesson in adaptation

One question I get asked a lot is a variation of, “How do I get past just copying people and doing my own thing?”  and the answer that I’d give to that is try the two A’s (Analysis and Adaptation).

Analysis: Look at what the player is doing.  Usually this breaks down into a something centered on a specific technical or harmonic approach.

Adaptation:  Take that approach and adapt it to what you’re already working on.

“Now paging Mr. Becker”

While the speed and precision of his playing is probably the first thing to hit you, Jason Becker has a lot of stylistic elements to his playing as well. These include:

  • Melodic sequences
  • Multi-octave arpeggios
  • Use of non-western melodic material
  • Bending notes “outside” the scale into pitches in the scale he’s using
  • Legato playing mixed in with picking

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For those of you who have been following what I do, I’ve been teaching a number of techniques involved sweeping scales and arpeggios.  As I watched Jason’s documentary, with a guitar on my lap I improvised this idea over one of the big drones he used to solo over.

The Lick

(Click on the graphic to see it full sized)

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And here’s the mp3:

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This isn’t something that Jason would probably play, but I’ve taken some ideas from him (arpeggios, sequencing ideas and bending notes outside of the scale) and combined them into a single lick.

From a technical standpoint, getting the hammer-ons really clean and in the pocket rhythmically will probably take some practice.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a huge fan of exercises per se, but I like developing skills by working on things that I’d actually play.  With that in mind, this is a great lick for developing a number of things such as:

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  • Rhythm.   The line is played as sextuplets in groups of 7, 6 and 5.  Notice how the first note of each ascending line falls just off the downbeat which makes the phrasing a little more unpredictable initially.)
  • Legato playing (and hammer-on strength with the pinky in particular.  Articulating the F# s on the G string will likely take some practice).
  • Sweep picking (It’s deceptive, but the lick has a lot of small 2-3 string sweeps tucked into it.  The combination of hammer-ons and sweeps gives it a lot of its sound.)
  • Sequencing arpeggios.  Notice that the lick basically uses one arpeggio (an E major 9) that is played from the root, fifth and the 9th on the A, D and G strings respectively.
  • Bending.  In my mind, the two most Beckerish elements are the two bends at the end, the F natural bending into the F# and the final bend in and out of the D#.

Put it all together and what have you got?

A lick that sounds like me, but based on ideas from another player.

Try this idea in your own playing by taking things you like from other players and adapting them to your style!  You might find yourself seeing things in a whole new way.

As always, I hope this helps and thanks for reading!

-SC

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