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Over the Top. Megadeth's Marty Friedman
01 July 2000
By Jon Chappell. Taken from Guitarmag.com

The guitar sounds that Marty Friedman brings to Megadeth combine variety, virtuosity, and emotion. He must serve the base, visceral urgency of Dave Mustaine's riffs, and upshift into high-octane flights of fancy for his single-note solo work. A good example of this pluralistic approach is the raunchy "FFF," from Megadeth's latest release, Cryptic Writings. After grinding through the low-note rhythm riffs, Friedman plays a highly structured solo that starts out slow, builds up speed, climaxes with virtuosic passagework, and finally winds down to bring us back into the vocal entrance. As Friedman explains: "The whole vibe of the solo is a bullfighting thing, a Spanish, gypsy, melodic thing that I take off from. The approach is from point A to point B to point C the whole way. The final phrase is a denouement, where I take it down to get back into the vocal.

"The structure is very important here. A lot of people could give a shit about the structure in guitar solos, but I spent a lot of time on this solo to make sure it had a beginning, middle, and end. This is a pretty good example, because there's so much space to solo in. There's a lot of measures to fill, and to give them all meaning takes quite a bit of thought.

Friedman's concern with the dramatic structure is evident in the slow, lyrical, Spanish-flavored melody that begins the solo. "I fashioned the front end of this solo in an almost flamenco groove," he explains. "The chord structure has only a root-5th composition, so I can take it anywhere

I want to, really. I was going in and out of major and minor and all points in between."

Friedman is referring to a theoretical device known as "modal ambiguity," where you can define a tonality in the rhythm guitar, such as A, by playing just the root and the 5th of the chord. You can then "float" in and out of major, minor, and other modes by varying certain scale degrees (3rd, 6th, 7th, etc.). But you're still in an A tonality as long as the root and 5th-degrees common to all modes in a key-remain fixed.

The Spanish flavor in this example is the Phrygian-based (1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7) progression of B5 to C5. The Phrygian mode's distinctive interval is the f2. Friedman plays a Cnat in bar 3, which is not part of the key signature but does reinforce the C5 chord in the progression as well as the Phrygian mode in B. He ends this first, slower segment of the solo with ascending tremolo-picked octaves.

Friedman continues: "Once I started to build up speed, I combined a lot of odd-numbered passages, and I just tried to put them together in a time frame that didn't really exist. As far as note choices, I basically didn't organize it by a scale or mode or format; I just played notes in a succession that sounded exotic. When you listen to flamenco music, a lot of times they don't pay attention to scales or modes, they're just blazing. There's a lot of chromatic parts, and there are times where they go from a melodic minor to a natural minor to a diminished passage. All in half a second. So I'll play a lot of odd-number passages-a three-note phrase and then a five-note phrase, then a seven-note phrase and a four-note phrase and a sextuplet-all in succession and all with no relation to each other with respect to note choice. It tends to sound exotic, especially when you throw chromatics into a normal scale-sounding passage and you break it up with something chromatic."

Taken from Guitarmag.com
 
 
 
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