Alexandra Zerner | Sextilis | Arpeggios Lesson

In the first “episode” of my free licks & tabs I want to show you a snippet from my track Sextilis, which, in essence, is a repeating arpeggio pattern in 7/4, based on chord progression in B- (aka Bm). Below you can see a video, where I play this part and on the bottow you will find the tabs for the part. Enjoy and share!

alexandra-zerner-sextilis-arpeggios-page-1 alexandra-zerner-sextilis-arpeggios-page-2 alexandra-zerner-sextilis-arpeggios-page-3 alexandra-zerner-sextilis-arpeggios-page-4

Guitar Pro file is available after donating an amount of your choosing, by using the button below and then writing the name of the lick tab you need in the text field, which opens, when you click the blue link Add special instructions to the seller.

paypal donate

 

Happy Birthday Song – cover by Alexandra Zerner – Behind the Scenes

The idea of making a cover version of this peremptory hit, is wandering across my mind for a very long time, as the genre concept of the eventual release is changing all the time. In fact, I’ve never found time to invest in developing the idea and coming to a complete idea of how this cover should sound like, until March 10th, when realising that two of my friends have their birthdays on that date, I concluded, that it’s an excellent occasion to start working on this cover.

I already had some basic concepts of what I should do with the harmony in order to make it more interesting and… more me-ish, so I grabbed the 12-string acoustic guitar and started experimenting, until I hit the right key, which, being a synesthete, I value as a component of a high importance. I wanted to integrate several different flavours in the arrangement, because this is how it sounded in my head, so beside the 12-string, I cleaned the dust from the the mandolin’s case and put this small and exquisite instrument at work. I often tend to use a mandolin in a combination with a 12-string guitar in my work as a composer, because it gives me the opportunity to create a broadband string-based soundscape, where these instruments could also move in counterpoints, creating interesting and full harmonic and melodic content.

Then came the piano as a timbral and melodic addition to the acoustic guitar and the mandolin, then the bass and the drums. I put the last two in order to develop the composition dynamically, which was already extended to more than 2 min. because I decided to put a guitar solo part as well, moving into the relative minor key, so I can create more dramatic and well constructed shape of the song.

Finally I came to the lead guitar part, which is the most interesting element here. The first and the obviously most logical approach was to put the main melodic theme, played in a traditional 6/8 bluesy fashion, but then I asked myself “Why should I do that? Everybody would do it exactly this way.” Once I saw a movie, where a guy was asked how he constructs so complex and well working plans, when he’s not that smart. He answered: “I imagine someone smarter than me, and then imagine what they would do.” There is a enormous amount of wisdom in this principle and it saved me a lot of times, when I felt stuck. In this particular case, I imagined my guitar heroes Jason Becker and Marty Friedman and asked myself: “What they would do with this track?” Right away the “answer” popped in my mind and I just translated it into sound, using my guitar.

I must admit, that I fancy the result, which doesn’t happen often, but what’s more interesting is that Jason Becker liked it too and shared it on his facebook page – there couldn’t be a greater recognition for this rendition of mine 🙂

Concerning the video, I thought that the approach I used for my cover of Dream Theater’s “Wait for Sleep” would be a great idea, that’s why I shot all the takes of the different instruments, except playing the drum parts on my keyboard – it’s not so interesting performance to watch, also it would unnecessarily flood the screen and won’t leave space for more important things.

The other essential thing is, that this is the project, that I finished for the shortest period of time, considering the amount of work – starting from scratch (not even chords on a paper) to a finished video, uploaded to YouTube, there were exactly 12 hours, with two 15 min. breaks within this period. I doubt I will ever do that again, because it’s extremely exhausting, but at least now I know I am capable of doing it.

Well, enough talking – below is the video, so enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂

Alexandra Zerner’s “Aspects” (2015) – Behind the Scenes

Once upon a time, the solo musicians and the bands have been releasing a new album almost every year. These were good times, ages of nice and intelligent music for intelligent people, played for real. But those days are long gone now. Today, the darkness is creeping all over the Earth, sneaking up into the tiniest holes of every single media, troubling the good people and comforting the bad ones.
In thess times of terror, I stood for the sake of the good music, in the name of the ones, who built the Empire of the Guitar!
I released a second solo album just one year after my debut one!
And this album, I called “Aspects”!


My first album “9 Stories” was а conceptual one, although it may not sound like such, but anyway – all the pieces in there were inspired by books and movies, having something in common in their plots. If you have read/seen them, you will notice, that every single one of them describes the relationship (of any kind) between older, wiser man, and younger girl… I will leave the rest to your imagination.
Due to my passion to enigmatic works, symbolism, and occultism, also being a devoted progressive metal/rock listener and fan (besides being a player as well), it came naturally to put my efforts in composing a more conceptual album, or at least – more noticeable conceptual.

The first question I am receiving, everytime I speak about my second album is “What aspects?” Well, the answer couldn’t be short, because I need to put on the table certain terms, along with clarifications, so they could serve as a background for further explanations. So, basically, we’re talking about astrological aspects (detailed explanation here). I used this as a base, because the concept of the album is, again, relationships between people; in this particular case – me and other people. Everyone you meet falls in some basic category according to astrology, and this category (zodiac sign) forms a specific aspect with your own zodiac sign. This aspect produce an environment of the relationship, which can also be categorised to certain degree, so when summarising all of these experiences as objectively as possible, you could describe and even predict this environment, therefore the relationship itself. This is what I did, composing every one of these seven aspect-pieces – I did my best to paint in a musical form how I felt in all these personal environments, connected them all in a quasi-scientific order, and put them into the bigger picture.

When you’re listening to the album (the video below), at certain point you will notice repeating motifs, patterns and reprises – these were made, considering the specifics of the already mentioned relationship environments, that came up to be similar between the different aspects, and the zodiac signs Elements as well (more on the topic here). You will also see, that the pieces are 9, but I mentioned only 7 aspects – I used two more basic astrological events for an intro and outro track of the album, as they still have their important roles in the whole piece – the Ascendant is considered to indicate the direction of the individual’s path in life and the soul’s intention, while the Descendant indicates our perception of others, notably in our intimate relationships, thus these both, put that way in the whole picture, form this specific journey from “me” to “you/us”.

Being a some sort of esoteric and occult geek, I decided to present this work of mine in the style of the medieval mysticism, so I used the old latin names of the aspects, put some alchemy symbols in there, and used a big amount of symbolism in the main drawing, which I scratched with a pen on a piece of paper, then I gave it to Sofia Zasheva (check her other works here), who did miracles and created great artwork. In this matter, she also did the artwork for my first album – “9 Stories” (both albums can be purchased here).

In a purely musical sense, this album is more prog, more metal, and maybe a bit darker than “9 Stories”, and this time not every instrument part was recorded by me – the bass parts were played by Simon Slavcheff, who is (besides being a great bass player) and my sound engineering mentor – he helped me a lot with the mastering of the album. There is also a guest musician appearance from the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan, where the amazing Keiko Kumagai does her keyboard sorcery with her well known japanese progressive rock band Ars Nova. Keiko was so kind to accept my invitation to contribute to my album and she did a great keyboard solo on my track Quadratum.

Speaking of the technical side, this time I used 8-string guitar for the whole album – my Jackson JS32-8Q, which I customised by replacing the bridge humbucker with Seymour Duncan Pegasus, put a Kahler 2218 stud mount tremolo on the guitar, also now it has my custom, designed by me, Moon Phase Inlays, special thanks to Univox Guitars Bulgaria. I recorded all the electric guitar parts with this guitar, plugged into my tube preamp from Engl Amps – the E530 (with a Boss GT-8 plugged into the FX loop), and then the preamp goes directly into the sound device, without an amp. I used D’addario EXL120-8 strings and Jim Dunlop Jazz III 2.0 guitar picks. Almost all of the gear, I use, I got it with the great help of Nikki Savov from MusicWorld.bg.

Well, I hope I enlightened you good enough about my ways and reasons to do my album this way, so the rest is up to your ears and brains. Enjoy and buy it if you like it!

Memoirs of a Geisha – Guitar Playthrough Video

A lot of people told me, that “Memoirs of a Geisha” is their favourite track from my debut solo album “9 Stories”, so I decided to do a playthrough video of it. Recently, a friend of mine gave me a beautiful chinese black dress with dragons on it, and when I saw it, I thought that this dress would fit perfectly to the concept of the video of “Memoirs of a Geisha”. So I put it on, put some delicate makeup and started shooting… I hope you will like the result.

Enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂

P.S. In my “WeeklyckZ” videos, I did several tutorials about licks, taken from this track, so if you’re interested, check them below the video.


 

 

Morning Star (Vinnie Moore) – cover by Alexandra Zerner

Here’s one more shred guitar cover, that I did – it’s a Vinnie Moore’s track from his great album “Time Odyssey”, and I think it’s the track, that I love the most from this album – “Morning Star”.

I put a lot of efforts to learn this one, because Vinnie is one of the most clearly playing guitarists, so it is hard to achieve his preciseness, also learning such piece by ear is very time consuming, but definitely rewarding.

Enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂

WeeklyckZ #35

This week in “WeeklyckZ” I decided to show you an ascending arpeggio lick, based on Em9maj7 chord. The lick is constructed by patterns, each one starting from different, sequential notes of the chord.

Enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂

WeeklyckZ #34

This week in “WeeklyckZ” I decided to show you a four arpeggio sequence, based on Gm, Gm#7, Gm7, and Gm6 chords. Played slow, it may sound a bit weird to you, but in the original tempo it’s pretty useful, if you want to spice up your solos.

Enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂

WeeklyckZ #33

This week I decided to show you a bit more advanced arpeggio lick, inspired by Jason Becker​’s style of playing diminished arpeggios. This one is a mixture of three different arpeggios – A♭dim, Fm7 and G7, which combined construct a G7♭9♭13 chord – it has a dominant function and a bit of gypsy jazz flavour.

Enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂

WeeklyckZ #32

This week I decided to show you a tapping arpeggio inspired by Tony MacAlpine. There is a little tricky moment at the end, where you have to bend the string with your right hand, while you tap.

Enjoy, subscribe and share! 🙂