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|EX. 1 "This is a bi-tonal lick
combining various C and Bb
major triads", says Belkadi.
Try it over C7 vamp for a nice
C Mixolydian sound, or over a
static Bb major background
harmony to effect a more "outside"
Bb Lydian vibe. Keep the notes
evenly spaced in time, even if it
means you have to slow
the phrase down significantly.
Who is the most influential electric guitarist of all time? Hendrix? Clapton? Page? Van Halen?
Wrong. You’ll need some lethal debate skills to prove that any rock guitarist would even have a
stage to stand on without help from St. Louis’ own Charles Edward Anderson Berry—“Chuck”
to his fans and friends. With his rapid-fire two-string eighth-note riffs and legendary stage swagger,
Berry single-handedly put rock and roll guitar on the map. So, if all guitarists have ol’ Chuck to
thank, then who the heck influenced him?
You don’t need to be a musicologist to hear how Berry took boogie woogie piano riffs, applied
them to guitar, and cranked ’em through an amp so loud that asbestos flakes likely snowed down
on the Eisenhower-era gymnasium crowds he so thoroughly “reeled and rocked” in the ’50s and
beyond. Berry’s sound, of course, opened the floodgates to so many wild electric guitar styles
that today, unfortunately, most guitarists rarely look to other instruments for inspiration.
Los Angeles-based guitar guru Jean-Marc Belkadi is one of the exceptions.
“The polytonal and bi-tonal licks I’m going to show you are directly inspired by listening to pianists
such as Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, as well as saxophone players like Michael Brecker and
Joe Henderson,” says Belkadi, one day before embarking on a clinic tour of Europe (which would
include a stop in his native city of Toulouse, France). The examples Belkadi shares can be used
in rock, jazz, fusion, even shred metal, and they all have a cool, modern sound. And, thanks to
sweep technique, they can each be played quite fast. Also, any of the examples can be used as an
exercise to improve sweep timing, because keeping the notes evenly spaced as you rake your pick
across the strings in either direction is one of the trickiest challenges of the style.
Sensei to the Stars
You don’t have to be an amateur guitarist to need guitar lessons. Even the pros like a good
schoolin’ now and again. And if you’re a professional guitarist, singer, or actor in the Los Angeles
area who’s fishing around for a guitar teacher, it probably won’t be long before someone refers
you to Jean-Marc Belkadi. Like his mentor, the late, great guitar genius Ted Greene, Belkadi
is quickly emerging as one of the most in-demand and respected guitar instructors in Southern
California and beyond. Over the years, the former GIT staffer’s roster of students has included
Dweezil Zappa, Ricardo Montalban, Rafael Moreira (Rock Star house band), Joe Holmes
(Ozzy Osbourne, David Lee Roth), Joel Whitley (Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill), Justin Derrico
(Pink), singer/actress/John Denver ex-wife Cassandra Delaney, Matchbox Twenty drummer
Paul Doucette, Sean Matthew Landon (Michael Landon’s son), Austin Ward (Sela Ward’s son),
and even Martin Chirac (grandson of the former President of France, Jacques Chirac).
By loose definition, a polytonal melody travels through multiple keys, chords, and/or harmonies
in a relatively short amount of time, typically over a static background key. If the phrase tags
only one other tonality, it can be more specifically described as bi-tonal.
Tips From the Grand Master
When it comes to sweep picking, Frank Gambale is the style’s undisputed champion, in both
senses of the word. With his impossibly fluid lines and flawless command of the technique
(shows marked superiority), Gambale is unparalleled as a sweep picker. Plus, he has always
been the style’s most impassioned and articulate proponent (militant advocate or defender).
In the September ’87 GP, Gambale shared some of his insights into his signature playing
approach with an eloquent lesson article entitled, simply, “Sweep Picking.” Here are some of
the pointers he offered: 1.Keep the notes as separate as possible—almost staccato (short)—at
first, especially when crossing multiple strings. Newcomers to sweeping tend to run the notes
together. 2.Watch your picking hand and make sure you are using a single movement when
sweeping across strings, not separate successive strokes. 3.Always practice with a metronome
or drum machine, making sure that the notes are clean and even. 4.Be critical and honest when
evaluating yourself. It’s harder to sweep at slower tempos, so start with medium ones
(sixteenths at q=60-100 bpm). Guitar Player Magazine article by Jude Gold
Extreme Sweeping: Jean-Marc Belkadi’s Polytonal Plectrum Pyrotechnics
|EX. 2 Truly polytonal, this
sweeper contains multiple major
triads (can you ID'em all?) from
the G diminished "half/whole"
scale ( G, Ab, A#, B, C#, D,
E, F). Use this colorful Belkadi
phrase for wacky sounds over
G7 jams. Or think of G13 b9
as the V chord and resolve
the angular lick with the
of a C major (I) voicing.
|EX. 3 Here's a fun "Swiffer"
riff that employs three major
triads and jumps aound the
fretboard in leaps of a minor
third. For a trippy modal sound,
play it over plain ol' C major.
EX. 5 Another Am(maj7)
excursion, this passage has
two things in common with the
The second bar is a melodic
mirror of the first (notice it is
visually symetrical to the
preceding bar), and 2) If you want
to remain in the multi-string sweep
realm, you may play the first note
in each descending grouping as an
extension of the same upward
sweep that carries you through
the ensuing three notes. (The
second note in each cluster will
have to be played as a pull-off)
When ascending (bar2), simply
hammer every fourth note to
stay in sweep land.
EX. 4 Use this sweeping weapon
to mount a major 7 assault on the
key of A minor using saucy G#
that imply Am(maj7). This is also
Belkadi's first example that
intermingles solo (single-string)
picked notes with multi-string
|EX. 6 "Here's a bi-tonal idea based up around the 12th fret, says Belkadi.
Again, notice the musical mirror (bar2).
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