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Steve Morse Part 3

Steve Morse Part III- Composer & everything else...

Welcome to part three

Welcome to this third and final part of my trilogy about Steve Morse. This last episode will focus on Steve as a composer & arranger, and I´ll also include some final thoughts.

The second part of the trilogy basically dealt with Steve as the virtuoso-guitar player, and I hope I showed you some interesting licks. But we should not see Steve Morse only as a player´s player, as a guitarist... after all, the music of the Dixie Dregs, the Steve Morse Band ( with both bands, Steve wrote the major part of the music ) and Deep Purple show him as an amazing composer, songwriter and arranger.

It doesn´t matter whether we´re talking about amazing leadlicks, intricate counterpoint-duets between bass & guitar, classical parts for the acoustic guitar or wacky unisono-fusion parts, Steve composed and used all of these elements.


Steve Morse wrote some wonderful melodies, that often get a certain twist by a special trick Steve likes to use: shifting the accent. Instead of writing a melody with lots of different note-lengths, he used lines that have constant, repeating note-values ( like 16th-notes etc. ), but he kinda moves around the position of the bass- and melody notes. ( Like instead of having the bass-notes and / or accents only on 1-2-3-4, he might split them up to 1-2+-3-4+ etc. )

A great example for this can be heard in the song "The Introduction" ( which is the title-song of the debut-album of the Steve Morse Band ). The interlude right before the solo is a beautiful piece of music IMHO... it is an ascending chordal part with a quite remarkable melody... and although it sounds like many overdubbed guitars, Steve pulls this one off live with only one guitar, playing both the melody and the bass note.

Here is that part:

Listen to a MIDI-File of Example 1

As you can see, it´s all straight 16th-notes, but the melody- and bassnotes kinda jump around. The chords you have to play are kinda tough to learn, but at least you can concentrate on them as long as you remember that it´s straight 16th notes throughout, so you don´t have to learn some complex, odd-metered part here.

By the way, the transcription you can see above were done by Steve himself. I asked him to do so a few years ago, since I had seen a bunch of different versions around. Just wanted to see what he really DID play... so there ya go !

Steve used some variation of this "shifting accent" method again several times throughout his career, without ever sounding repetitive. Another fine example can be found in the celtic-inspired "Rally Cry" ( from the 1995- Steve Morse Band release "Structural Damage" )
This is the middle-part of that song:

Listen to a MIDI-File of Example 2

The only part that might be a problem here is to get used to the bar of 2/4. The chords are pretty simple. You may use your left-hand thumb to fret some of the bass notes. Oh yeah, in the original recording, this part is doubled with an acoustic guitar...

More riffs >>