When constructing my guitar solos, I try to maintain a broad view of the melody as a whole and how it progresses and unfolds. I prefer a solo to have peaks and valleys, establishing “tension and release” and an overall statement that’s musically sound.
A “composition within a composition” is the approach I like to take. As an example of this, I’d like to present my solo in “Pernicious,” from The Order of Things. FIGURE 1 illustrates the rhythm part behind the solo: I palm mute single 16th notes, with two- and three-note power chords added in bars 5–8.
The overall harmonic environment alluded to is E natural minor (the Aeolian mode): E F# G A B C D. My goal in crafting a melodic solo was to highlight specific intervals within natural minor as my focal points. Let’s analyze this solo in two-bar sections.
FIGURE 2 illustrates bars 1 and 2, and I begin by referencing the primary lick in “Pernicious,” which puts emphasis on the notes F# and D, via an Em9 arpeggio fragment, F# D B. After playing these notes, I play a quick scalar passage that moves through all of the notes in E natural minor. In bar 2, I play a double hammer-on—F# to G to A—followed by a double pull-off, descending through the same pitches, then a fast ascent through the entire scale.
This sets up the phrase in bars 3–5, shown in FIGURE 3, which begins with notes from an Am7 arpeggio, G E C, played over the A5 power chord. Stylistically, the three-note arpeggio approach becomes an early theme in the solo’s progression. I like employing this approach as it supplies a sense of cohesion to my melody.
In the second bar of FIGURE 3. I move back into an Em7 arpeggio on the upbeat of beat one, after which I incorporate descending chromaticism, moving from B to Bb to A, and in the next bar I move outside the tonality briefly with the inclusion of the flatted ninth, F, which serves to set up a restatement of F# via chromatic movement once again.
FIGURE 4 illustrates the solo’s third phrase, in which I move to a rhythm of steady eighth-note triplets with an “octave displacement” approach: instead of playing all the notes in the same octave, I quickly jump between two different octaves while playing what is essentially a simple melody. This technique gives the line a completely different and unique feel.
FIGURE 5 presents the next phrase, which is simply a bent and sustained note to which I apply a tapped harmonic, performed by tapping directly onto the seventh fret while sustaining the bend, which will sound the same note but two octaves higher.
FIGURE 6 kicks off the second half of the solo and references the shapes presented in my previous columns, with chromatic notes added. FIGURE 7 follows, offering a simple melodic idea built from repeating notes, and in FIGURE 8, I employ octave displacement once again. FIGURE 9 shows the end of the solo, which is very “spacious” and concludes with another tapped harmonic, occurring 12 frets above the fretted pitch.
How to Play the Lead in All That Remains' "Pernicious"
Source: Guitar World