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In the climax of the movie Crossroads (1986), Ralph Macchio's character Eugene gets into a guitar battle with Jack Butler, the devil's own personal shredder, over the soul of an old blues harmonica player Willie Brown.

He blows Jack Butler out of the water by playing a piece that became known as Eugene's Trick Bag. It is based on Paganini's 5th caprice for solo violin. The version in the film was penned by Steve Vai, who dubbed the guitar part in the movie, and played the character of Jack Butler.

Piece Description:

The piece begins with a long trill, and then a series of difficult two-octave arpeggios (though not bearing any particular resemblance to those at the beginning of the caprice). The main theme of the piece then begins, and this theme is the theme of the caprice. In the original piece, Paganini begins modularizing the piece after an original statement of the theme, but in Eugene's Trick Bag Vai begins this almost immediately. After the melodic part, Vai begins a series of very fast triads, which he further complicates by jumping around on the neck with them. Then there are two measures of Beethoven-style Diminished 7th arpeggios that descend in sets of 4, and end on A, which is the tonic of the piece. A short sequence of jumping E octaves is followed by a super-fast A harmonic-minor scale, which finishes up the piece.

Eugene's Trick Bag, because of its difficulty (while not being impossible), impressiveness and classical props, has become a standard learning-piece for many intermediate-advanced guitarists who lean towards the more complicated metal-style guitar technique. I myself at one point almost had the whole thing down, and though I don't really know it all any more I still play what I know sometimes. Tablature of Eugene's Trick Bag can be found all over the 'net.

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