Please kindly help me out with the chord/soloing modal explanation of various sections of the song, Always With Me, Always With You by Joe Satriani. Also, please suggest ways to compose solos based on the backing chords and their shapes.
Thanks in advance.
How Joe Satriani Makes the Major Scale Sound Awesome
Rishi, this is a particularly interesting solo to analyze (although any of Satriani's epics are worthy of study) because it demonstrates just how rich and colorful the major scale can be made to sound.
Many guitarists consider the major scale quite "vanilla" sounding and struggle to create solos in natural major keys that really grab your ears.
As it's a very natural, safe scale, with little harmonic tension, you have to be particularly inventive with your phrasing and ring as much as you can from the chord changes.
Let's take a listen...
Note: if at any time you want to slow down the audio, use Youtube's speed function by clicking the cog icon in the bottom right of the player and select "0.5" from the speed menu.
So, we start with a picked 1 4 5 progression in B major.
Bmaj / Emaj / F#sus
Note: "sus" is often interchangeable with "maj" in the 5 chord position.
The backing guitarist is picking some extra notes around the chords, but they're all notes from the B major scale.
This means B major (and later, B major pentatonic) is the natural scale choice.
After a couple of measures, the progression moves to G#m - the relative minor or 6 chord of B major (so we can still use B major as our parent scale)
G#m / Emaj / F#sus
Now Joe comes in with his lead (video should start at 0:24)...
That opening phrase which ends around the 30 second mark sounds so perfect because of how each note he accents is connected to the backing chord.
For example, he starts a simple three-note phrase on the major 3rd of B major, resolving up to the 5th. 3 - 4 - 5 from the scale.
As you know, the 3 and 5 are strong chord tones, so targeting them connects the melody to the chords. The 4 acts as a passing or bridging tone between the two chord tones.
As the chord changes to Emaj, Joe moves between the 3rd and root of that chord.
On to F#sus, once again he's targeting the 5th of the chord.
Incredibly simple, but this opening sequence will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about melodic phrasing over chords - Target the chord tones (whether root, 3rd or 5th) through each change and the other notes in the scale will naturally fall into place.
That doesn't mean we can't accent other notes, but generally, the triad tones of the chords you're playing over are your safest melodic points, and make it easy to create naturally musical phrases.
The root is an especially strong resolution tone, which Joe uses to finish the opening section of the solo, landing on the root of B (hear it at 0:45)...
Of course, there is also the use of slides and legato (hammer-ons, pull-offs) throughout to give the phrases more feeling.
Now we move into a more elaborate, quicker section, but if you slow it down, you can still hear him accenting those strong chord tones through the changes.
So your practice time should be spent on really getting to know where these chord tone positions are within the pattern.
I personally visualize chord shapes within the pattern to help me locate these tones. Some guitarists call this the CAGED method (there are many resources on the web that explain this).
The good thing is, you only have to "hard" learn it once, because the shapes move with the pattern as you play in different keys.
Before we move back into the original major key, Joe changes to the B major scale, one chord earlier, over the F#maj 5 chord (1:27)...
This works, because we know that F#maj is part of both B major and B harmonic minor. This is sometimes called a "shared chord" and gives you the option of which scale you play. By using B major over F#maj, it subtly prepares us for a smoother transition back into the parallel B major key.
We're now back in the original B major key.
The tapping sequence that Joe plays is, again, pure B major scale. He uses the open B string as the root pedal point, tapping the 12th fret B and working the scale up and down the B string using his fret hand fingers.
Be aware of whether or not the scale you're playing corresponds to one of your open strings like this as it allows you to use open string pedal and tapping sequences like this. It works best when the open string is the root of the scale you're playing. In this case, the open B string provides the root of the scale.
As mentioned earlier, whenever we're playing the major scale, major pentatonic can also be used. Here, Joe plays a couple of B major pentatonic licks, an octave apart, which offers some nice variation...
Hopefully this has inspired you to try out your own ideas. Luckily for us, someone has uploaded the backing track for this song. Enjoy!