The PDF file for this lesson is here:
I should probably confess that haven’t listened to Phish or Trey Anastasio in the last 10 years. The lesson posted above is largely based on observations I made during a 6 month period when I was really into them during my teenage years (between 1995-96.)
The first time I saw Phish was actually by accident. Here’s all the pertinent information (Copied off of Phish.net):
The Landlady, Suzy Greenberg-> Sparkle, Stash, Uncle Pen-> Cavern-> Reba-> I Didn’t Know*-> You Enjoy Myself-> Possum#
Free show with Rippopatamus, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Firehose, Fishbone, and The Beastie Boys for UMASS’s “Spring Fling”. Venue may have been “Campus Pond.” *Fish on vacuum. #”Simpsons” and “All Fall Down” language during the intro.
I remember that show because my girlfriend at the time had to be taken to the hospital after being dropped on her back in the mosh pit during Fishbone. Phish wasn’t really associated with the whole druggie/hippie culture back then at all. I don’t think I even saw anyone doing drugs or selling burritos in the parking lot at the show. They were more like a quirky “college rock” band that was starting to catch a buzz. Anyway, I remember thinking that they were kind of interesting but a little too goofy for my tastes. I must admit that my friends and I did break into a ho-down during “Sparkle.”
A few years later I was on a one month retreat in Brattleboro, VT with a group of people and for one reason or another our little group only had two tapes: Nirvana’s In Utero and Phish’s Lawn Boy. It was during this time period that I started to listen to Phish a little more closely. Coincidentally, it was also during this time period that I was just starting to pick out my first chords on the guitar. From that point I spent the following year studying guitar and trying to build some basic technique. As time went on I became more and more of a Phish fan solely based on Trey’s guitar work and compositional approach. For a time, I was quite obsessed with learning the theory behind tunes like “You Enjoy Myself” and “Stash.” Needless to say, I spent a lot time next to the tape machine carefully transcribing and analyzing the music. Eventually I ended up transcribing and performing “Reba” (solo included) live for an honors recital in college.
Admittedly, my interest in Phish’s music waned considerably after I started to explore some of their influences but examining their music did give me a good foundation in regards to modal playing. One thing I can say for sure is that if you’re really serious about trying to learn how to play in this style, it’s imperative that you launch a full investigation into the music that influenced the band. I cannot stress this enough. I have noticed that some of the people who are infatuated Phish tend not to listen to music as broadly as the band themselves do.