Hardcore Punk III: Bad Brains

by Gabriel Leopardi

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  • Hi GMC!

    Welcome to my new lesson in which I continue covering fundamental Hardcore Punk bands. As I commented in the previous lessons, Hardcore Punk is a punk rock genre that started in the 70’s and the difference with punk is that it’s generally faster and heavier. In the early 80’s, there were many underground scenes in the United States, particularly in Washington, California, New York and Boston. In this third lesson I close the trilogy of the three most important bands that were part of that scene. I’m talking about “Bad Brains”, an American Hardcore band formed in Washington DC in 1977 who are among the pioneers of this style.

    Music Style:
    Bad Brains started as a Fusion band with another name, but as soon as they heard the Ramones, they took the name from one of their songs and started to play a very intense and fast punk rock that later has been called Hardcore. They were the more complex and faster of their scene. They included guitar riffs, melodies and arrangements that weren't usual in Punk. Later, they also explored other horizons like funk, heavy metal, hip hop and soul. They have influenced lots of bands from NOFX and Bad Religion to Living Color and Fishbone. In this lesson I decided to cover their most aggressive and old school sound and style. The tempo is very fast and the chord changes are insane so it’s a good re-creation of the faster side of this genre.

    Tonality, Chord Progression & Scales:
    Their aggressive stuff is usually dark and that’s why they prefer minor scales. Their riffs are mostly formed with power chords changed very fast and single notes. Their songs use to modulate many times and I can say that this could be related to their fusion roots but also because of the Ramones, since I noticed many modulations that were also used by the NYC punk rockers. This tune starts in Em, then modulates to Bm, E Phrygian and Am. Check out the slow video texts to discover the tonality of each section. You can find the chord progression in the main video and also over the guitar tabs.

    This is basically a rock rhythm lesson so we will use strumming. The chord changes are very fast to it requires precise left hand movements to make everything sound clear. Remember to use the slower backing tracks and record yourself to be sure that the chords are sounding well. There are also some melodic sections where the technique that you have to use is only downstrokes and alternate picking.

    Tuning: I used standard 440 tuning.

    Tempo: 160 BPM

    I used LePou plugins to create the guitar tone. These are free amp emulators that are extremely recommend. The head used for this guitar tone is Poulin HyBrit which is a Marshall Emulation. Here you can check the setting that I used:

    Click HERE to download the patch used.

    Ok guys – let’s start rocking!

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