Grunge VII: Pearl Jam

by Gabriel Leopardi

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  • Hi GMC!

    Welcome to my new lesson in a series based on Grunge Style.

    In this lesson I will cover the style of Pearl Jam, one of the most popular ones from the movement, but also one of the biggest rock bands ever.

    “Pearl Jam is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band's line-up has comprised Eddie Vedder (lead vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass). The band's fifth member is drummer Matt Cameron (also of Soundgarden), who has been with the band since 1998. ” – Wikipedia

    Don’t forget to check my previous Grunge lessons.

    Music Style:
    As it happens with most of the Grunge bands, Pearl Jam has its personal style which is not very close to the other ones from the same movement (Nirvana, Soundgarden, AIC). Their style is less heavy and move connected to the classic rock music from the 70's. Their early influences are both punk and classic rock bands like Ramones, Kiss, The Who and Led Zeppelin. In this lesson I've tried to recreate that spirit that combines 70's riffing, with punk attitude and Jimi Hendrix guitar vibes.

    Tonality, Chord Progression & Scales:
    This tune is in A minor key and is focused on an Am riff for the intro and chorus and a chord progression that includes a guest chord from Dorian mode. As it happened with many 70's rock bands, they combined aeloian and ionian modes with dorian, and mixolydian modes in their compositions. In the case of this composition the apparition of D major (instead of minor) gives the chorus a Dorian feel.

    Mike McCready is a very talented guitarist with strong influences from classic rock guitarists as Jimi Hendrix, SRV, as well as bands like Aerosmith and Kiss. This is off course reflected in his music and guitar playing. This lesson covers both the rhythm and the lead guitar sides of PJ so we'll be covering chords, power chords, riffing, palm muting, strumming, but also alternate picking, legato, bending, and vibrato.

    I used LePoin plugins to create the guitar tone. These are free amp emulators that are extremely recommended. The cabinet used for this guitar tone is HyBrit which is a Marshall amp emulation and before it a tube screamer emulation. Check out the settings:

    I used Cubase to record audio and midi, superior drummer for drums and Trillian for bass.

    Tuning: Standard Tuning

    Tempo: 105 BPM

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