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Steve Morse Masterclass

October 21st, 2009




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1. Improvisation

Electric guitar luminary Steve Morse welcomes Guitar Messenger visitors with a stunning solo –  in half a minute, he incorporates fierce pentatonic licks, chromatic bursts, harp harmonic arpeggios, wah-like tone knob swells, and subtle voice-led chords. Pay attention to Steve’s right hand throughout the solo – his even and aggressive pick attack is the key to making passages like the second line burst off the page.
Steve Morse Improvisation
Steve Morse Improvisation
Steve Morse Improvisation
Steve Morse Improvisation

Steve Morse Improvisation

2. Practice Routine

An excerpt from GM’s Steve Morse Interview:

IC: Do you still have a regular practice routine that you go through?

SM: Oh, yeah. My technique requires a lot of upkeep. So I do these kind of exercises:

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Then I do two-octave scales, six different ways. Let’s take mixo: First starting on a downstroke, and I alternate pick it, then starting with an upstroke. This is with the first and index finger, basically in the fifth position:

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Now, I play the same scale starting on either the second or the third, depending on which scale [I’m playing]. Use one of the inside fingers – downstroke and then upstroke again:

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Then switch to the fourth finger – this gives you three different positions. Then do it again with the upstroke:

Steve Morse Practice Routine

Steve Morse Practice Routine

So I do that up and down the neck a whole bunch of times – I spend about 30 or 40 minutes on just that, with rest periods, because that’s the way it is.

3. ‘Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming’ & Harp Harmonics

Here Steve shows us how to play the signature melody from Deep Purple’s ‘Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming’ off of their 1996 album Purpendicular, and explains the harp harmonic technique he uses to play it:

SM: The technique that I use is with second finger and thumb, and then I stop the string with my first finger. Put your finger over the fret wire – not in the middle between the fret wires, like you would if you were fretting. Actually touch it right over the fret wire and lift at the same time you pick.

Original melody in Dm and modulation into Gm:


Steve Morse - Deep Purple - Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

Original melody and transposition up one octave:

The second time I’m fretting it in Gm, and you’re hearing it an octave higher. Since I’m fretting it in Gm, I’ve gone up a fourth, and playing the harmonic seven frets up gives me an octave and a fifth above that. So the fourth and fifth gives you an octave, and then the octave – so you’re two octaves up. If you miss a note [while sounding the harmonic seven frets above it] you’re going to get a wrong note – instead of hearing a D, you’re going to hear a G, so it’s going to be weird. So choose your time carefully to use that.

Steve Morse - Deep Purple - Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming

Steve Morse - Deep Purple - Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming