Schon’s celebrated lead playing has always been very melodic, aggressive, and soulful—from his earliest licks and solos alongside Carlos Santana on songs such as “Everybody’s Everything” and “No One to Depend On” to his many recordings with Journey. His signature style is marked by outstanding technique and facility, but he has always found a way to blend technical ideas with a healthy dose of blues sensitivity, raw emotion, and impeccable phrasing. This lesson will focus on the modal “melodic pocket” approach that Schon has used throughout his career, with the goal of teaching you how to employ it in your own playing. The concept involves locating and targeting a small fretboard pattern for a scale, and finding various ways of repurposing the notes over different relative chords and modes to create a variety of appealing modal tonalities from a single handful of notes.
To begin, let’s focus on the G major scale (G, A, B, C, D, E, F#) played in only one octave in the 12th position, as shown in Ex. 1. This “pocket” of notes will easily work over a G major chord and any progression in that key. After you become familiar with this pattern and shape, play the lick shown in Ex. 2, which is built directly from it. As you play through this lick, notice the abundance of finger