Feb 25, 2013
We’re extremely pleased to welcome back Brandon Reihana to Six-String Samurai, continuing on with the second installment of his monthly guitar lesson column Break Through Consciousness. In January’s column he delved a little into unusual scale construction – if you haven’t read it yet, check it out right here. If you have, then read on and enjoy the creative teachings of this otherwordly guitar player! -thesamurai
I remember when I created this cool little idea. I was plugged into Amplitube (the amp modelling software) and was trying out the different effects in the delay section and found a LRC (left/right/centre) stereo delay. I clicked on it and fell in love with it instantly. The delays reminded me of Devin Townsend’s song Deep Peace from the album Terria, which I was listening to a lot back then. Inspired by this connection, I started experimenting and improvising with arpeggios, and by following what I heard in my head I stumbled onto the intro to the song we’ll be discussing this month – it’s called Absolution. Here’s a snippet:
Even though it started off as being inspired by a Devin Townsend song, in the song itself you can hear shades of Steve Vai in the verse melodies, with some Marty Friedman and Jason Becker influenced melodies in the chorus. It’s funny how something as small as a stereo delay can spark an idea that takes on a life of its own – so don’t ignore even the little things!
Breaking it down
The first two arpeggios are based on an A Major arpeggio, while the third arpeggio is a G#m7/#5. ( depending on which root note you choose to use the G#m7/#5 chord could also be an Eadd9 if we played this over an E root). Generally, Absolution is in the key of A Major but it changes key to C Major in the bridge section later on – you’ll have to wait till the EP comes out to hear that part!
The scales used in Absolution are the A Major scale and its relative minor, the A Pentatonic, A Minor and A Harmonic Minor scales respectively. Don’t worry, we’re not going to try and cover all of these scales in one go! Here’s the notation for the intro, which we’ll focus on in order to get a bit of a handle on building interesting arpeggio-based passages.
A major comparison
Here we take an A Major arpeggio and subtract selected notes from the scale (just like we did in the Ocean Nebula lesson). By doing this with certain notes (experiment with which ones you personally like the sound of leaving out) we can create cool sounding ideas that can convey emotion and feeling, as opposed to a standard scale or arpeggio being played straight up or down, which can begin to sound a bit repetitive if you overdo it!
In the “Slow Burn” section of each column, we’ll run through a simplified version of the concepts above for the theory averse (thesamurai says, “Hah, like me!”) and beginners. The licks we run through here will help you build the foundations of your knowledge and technical ability to be able to play the more involved passages.
Basic arpeggio forms
Below are Major and Minor arpeggios. These shapes are some of the most commonly used forms, and I use these as building blocks for creating interesting lines .
Absolution-inspired arpeggio forms
In this section we remove one note from each of the arpeggios to give them a sound that is a little more distinctive compared to the basic arpeggios above. Again, improvising and trying what works for yourself is key – I actually ended up writing a little tune using these, and if there’s interest we could go into these in a little more depth in a future lesson to help give you insight into how to apply these in your own tunes. Shout out in the comments if you’re keen!
You are Absolved.
That’s our lesson for February! A big thanks to all you readers for the great response we’ve had so far – please feel free to comment below and I will answer all your questions personally. I would also like to thank Joe Brownless of the Heavy Metal Ninjas for contributing the drumming on Absolution and providing the drum mix – he is doing a great job and I am looking forward to hearing what he comes up with for the rest of the tracks!
Check out Joe smashing the kit here, and there’s more on his Youtube channel.
Don’t forget to check back at the end of next month for our next installment of Break Through Consciousness!!
- Brandon Reihana