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  1. #1
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    BackTrack Spotlight: "Bright Lights" by Gary Clark Jr.



    Each week we showcase an existing song from our extensive Rocksmith song library on the weekly Twitch stream, in addition to the current week's offerings. We’ll announce the BackTrack here each Wednesday and offer some thoughts about the featured song.

    This week's BackTrack Spotlight comes from notetracker Anthony Martinez.

    Gary Clark Jr. -- “Bright Lights”
    Originally released as Rocksmith 1 DLC on October 2, 2012
    Notetracked by Jason Kocol
    All arrangements in E Standard Tuning




    Gary Clark Jr.’s “Bright Lights” debuted in 2011 on The Bright Lights EP. The following year, it was released on Blak and Blu, the artist’s first major-label album, which earned him two Grammy Award nominations and one trophy.

    “Bright Lights” is a wonderfully simple blues-rock number in the key of A minor. Most of the song, in fact, stays on an A minor vamp, with no real harmonic movement at all. So it is up to the melodic content of the song to generate a sense of motion, and Clark accomplishes this by unleashing the awesome majesty of the Blues.

    Blues melodies are most often built from the Pentatonic Minor scale and its cousin, the aptly named Blues Scale. The pentatonic scale has just five notes:

    1 – b3 – 4 – 5 – b7

    Specifically, the A minor pentatonic scale is made up of these notes:

    A – C – D – E – G

    The blues scale adds just one note to this, the flat 5 (or the sharp 4, depending on the context and your mood):

    1 – b3 – 4 – b5 – 5 – b7
    A – C – D – Eb – E – G

    The flatted fifth, or blue note, is a small addition to the pentatonic scale, but it brings with it an enormous amount of character, and is one of the defining elements of the blues sound. The note forms the interval of a diminished fifth, or tritone, with the root of the scale. The tritone is one of the most dissonant intervals in music, and its overwhelming need to resolve helps give the blues much of its aching, longing quality.

    The power of that note is amplified even further when used sparingly, so for much of the song, Clark and his bandmate Eric Zapata rely primarily on the minor pentatonic scale. These guitar parts, along with Clark’s vocal hooks, help the song flow and constantly present the listener with fresh ideas in spite of the song’s limited harmonic palette. The melodies are simple, leaving plenty of room for Clark to introduce more complex and nuanced lead work when he solos.

    Clark’s guitar chops truly shine in the outro, demonstrating his mastery of the entire fretboard, as he performs howling blues lines in multiple positions up and down the neck. His tasteful choices about when to wail, when to lay back, and when to split the difference are the driving force behind the song, and should give all aspiring blues practitioners a lot to chew on.
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  2. #2
    DeityCAN's Avatar Member
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    Great song and great write up.
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  3. #3
    Sounds like the stream will 'sure got the blues this morning'

    Should be fun to watch.
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  4. #4
    infocat1's Avatar Senior Member
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    First I learned of Clark was on a Beatles tribute show where he played "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" with Joe Walsh. Was happy to learn more from him with this song in RS. Probably ought to search out more of his music.
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  5. #5
    Great song, and also a fantastic track for RS. Tons of fun and a great learning tool. Well done!
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  6. #6
    Steamroller52's Avatar Senior Member
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    Thanks for this one Jarred, really looking forward to watching it on the stream tonight. Will Anthony be tackling the lead since he note tracked it?
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  7. #7
    Rockin7GG's Avatar Member
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    Thank you for another great 'Spotlight' Jarred , its always enlightening and refreshing to learn and 're-learn' some of the very interesting musical 'truths' you elucidate therein. It's almost mind boggling to be able to comprehend that, at some point in music history, ( I believe it was before the Baroque/Renaissance periods), the Tritone, or Diminished Fifth/Augmented Fourth, was banned from music and was actually called the devil's interval !!! It is a very difficult interval to sing, mind you, and was thus frowned upon by most of that period of music, music that was very much under the auspices of the church. And then there is so much theory extant with respect to it's existence, and frequency thereof, depending on whether you are viewing same in a Chromatic or Diatonic context.
    Dang it, I should really get back into music theory, harmony and voice leading, and all that Jazz !!! Thanks again Jarred, for another thought provoking albeit, brief write up .
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  8. #8
    Steamroller52's Avatar Senior Member
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    Was a nice stream yesterday guys, although I think you could work on a notification system for Dan so he knows better when to scale back his entertaining. Sometimes he kinda walks on top of you guys at the pinnacle moment of solos when it'd be nice to let Anthony, for example, really shine in the spotlight instead of playing "2nd fiddle" to Dan's commentary. Nothing as dramatic as a pie in the face, although I'm sure we'd all get a kick out of that, , but maybe have the wheels of steel operator equipped with a sign that says "solo", and he can hold it up for Dan to see when to taper back on MC duties.

    I think Dan does a fantastic job running the show, but just a little more awareness for when the spotlight should be on you guys playing the solos would be great.

    I might have missed it during the stream, but did you guys discuss using the thumb over the top style as the "correct" or best way to play this song. That's the way GCJr plays and seems the most natural way to hit some of those low E string notes on 5th fret. I usually play with a more classical grip, so I'm noticing that I really need to change to thumb over grip to get comfortable playing this song. Was kinda expecting to see "T" charted for thumb, but I guess its easy enough to figure out after a little practice in RR. I'm also finding that in order for me to get that recurring pull off on the G-string 5th fret, I have to bring my pick back up and mute the open A string from the preceding chord...this really helps to let that pull off note ring out...was wondering if Anthony was muting that open A string as well yesterday?

    Anyway, great stream and great team, thanks guys.
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  9. #9
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
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    Originally Posted by Steamroller52 Go to original post
    Was a nice stream yesterday guys, although I think you could work on a notification system for Dan so he knows better when to scale back his entertaining. Sometimes he kinda walks on top of you guys at the pinnacle moment of solos when it'd be nice to let Anthony, for example, really shine in the spotlight instead of playing "2nd fiddle" to Dan's commentary. Nothing as dramatic as a pie in the face, although I'm sure we'd all get a kick out of that, , but maybe have the wheels of steel operator equipped with a sign that says "solo", and he can hold it up for Dan to see when to taper back on MC duties.

    I think Dan does a fantastic job running the show, but just a little more awareness for when the spotlight should be on you guys playing the solos would be great.

    I might have missed it during the stream, but did you guys discuss using the thumb over the top style as the "correct" or best way to play this song. That's the way GCJr plays and seems the most natural way to hit some of those low E string notes on 5th fret. I usually play with a more classical grip, so I'm noticing that I really need to change to thumb over grip to get comfortable playing this song. Was kinda expecting to see "T" charted for thumb, but I guess its easy enough to figure out after a little practice in RR. I'm also finding that in order for me to get that recurring pull off on the G-string 5th fret, I have to bring my pick back up and mute the open A string from the preceding chord...this really helps to let that pull off note ring out...was wondering if Anthony was muting that open A string as well yesterday?

    Anyway, great stream and great team, thanks guys.
    1) I'll tell Dan you said to shut up. He never listens when I say it.

    2) We didn't discuss the thumb use on the stream, but you're right. That's something Gary Clark, Jr. does a lot, and in this song in particular. This was an RS1 chart originally, so we didn't have the ability to display thumbprints at the time this chart was made.

    3) Not totally sure which pull-offs you're referring to, but in general, it's good to cultivate the ability to mute unused strings and cut notes off when they're done instead of letting them ring out through unrelated material. I often use the heel of my right hand to do that.


    PS - Actually I rarely tell Dan to shut up. I think he usually has interesting things to say. We also know that the twitch stream is one of the few cases where you guys get to interact directly with the team in real time, so we're trying to address as many of people's questions and concerns as possible in the limited time available, and sometimes things get stepped on. But we'll see if we can do a better job of picking our moments.
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  10. #10
    derrickhenry1's Avatar Senior Member
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    I want to say thanks for this song, this is my favorite songs to play and listen too I am grateful you guys put this in the game. Great song.
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