DragonForce: 'Through the Fire and Flames' Guitar Solo Lesson With Chris Zoupa

Oh no he didn't! That's right guys! Full solo tutorial for the near impossible Guitar Hero classic... Things just got a little CRAYZAY!

Ultimate Guitar
Tuning: E A D G B E (Standard)

Difficulty: Advanced/Redonkulous

I think we can all agree that DragonForce are a pretty silly band, with equally silly songs and even sillier solos... That doesn't mean they're not awesome, hilarious, entertaining and educational.

This solo (or solos) was exceptionally hard to transcribe. If I could liken it's difficultly to anything it'd be like trying to urinate accurately, whilst sneezing with morning wood... So if you're going to be a dick about and say things like "That's not exactly perfect." or "They play it differently live." I want you to know I don't care and I will not hesitate to call you a dick sandwich.

As usual we'll break the solo down into sections and look at the most troublesome parts. I'll leave a guitar pro and YouTube link for this lesson at the bottom of the article also. So get ready for some shredding, sweeping, tapping and general hilarity!

Section 1 Tips

The opening legato run at the start of the solo uses the Hirojoshi scale which is essentially a 5 note scale using the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th or a natural minor/Aeolian scale. Let's have a look at a Hirojoshi scale in C (C D Eb G Ab). (See diagram below)

This scale is used really well by Marty Friedman and Jason Becker in and out of Cacophony (Check out the song "The Ninja" by Cacophony to hear this scale in action). Now that we're better acquainted with the Hirojoshi sound and shape, let's look at the legato lick Herman Li plays. (See excerpt below)

As you can you see the first half of this lick uses a lot of legato then drifts seamlessly into staccato shred. This is a really tough lick, plead super fast. I would recommend using and metronome or a program to slow the original track down to practice to so you can build up your speed in sensible increments.

Section 2 Tips

The 2nd section has some licks that are very reminiscent of Yngwie Malmsteen's playing style. (See excerpt below)

These licks are quite odd as you're pedalling the highest note in each phrase. If you're doing straight alternate picking every pedal note will be an up pick and the changing melody notes are on a down pick. I've worked through licks like this with many students and has been the catalyst for multiple rage quits. Work through this lick slowly and try to focus on being thorough with your picking direction.

Section 3 Tips

This section is terrifying... However I think it's important to be aware of what we're dealing with... The sexiest move in technical metal: the arpeggio sweep tap. In the diagram below I have one bar dedicated to an ascending then descending C minor arpeggio and another dedicated to the tapped fret positions. (See diagram below)

Now that we have a rough "skeleton" of the idea, let's look at the full arpeggio in the original song context. (See excerpt below)

Beyond just doing a sweep with taps, it's important on the descending part of the arpeggio to begin each new string with a "hammer on from nowhere" before adding your tap as it will be impossible to add picks in between.

Section 4 Tips

This section has a big fat ascending run using an Ab Lydian shape from the 5th string. (See excerpt below)

The run is nearly a straight semiquaver/16th note ascend up the scale with a few extra notes on the 3rd string. Also be cautious of the position shift on the 2nd bar of this phrase that leads into a 2 string Cm7 arpeggio.

Section 5 Tips

The 5th section goes from 2 string to a 4 string Ab major arpeggio both using the sweep technique. (See excerpt below)

The 2 string Ab major arpeggio has a very short sweeping motion and the 4 string obviously has a longer sweeping motion. I found this a very tricky transition as I usually find myself jumping between very similar sweeping patterns (timing wise and amount of strings per sweep etc). Take your time practicing this with a metronome and keeping a consistent semiquaver/16th note pulse.

Section 6 Tips

The 6th section of this solo takes place around the 4th position/branch of the C minor pentatonic with the added "blue" note (flat 5). Let's take a look at the full scale shape first. (See diagram below)

Now that we're aware of the scale shape let's a look at the lick from the solo. (See excerpt below)

This passage stays within the box shape pattern (which is nice). Try to pay attention to the accidentals/"blue" notes and any moments of surprise legato.

Section 7 Tips

Your tapping finger will be tested in this section... So get ready to give it a pounding. Let's take a look at this terrifying tapping lick in question. (See excerpt below)

On closer inspection this lick isn't actually that hard, it's just super fast. Most of the fretting hand positions are 2 notes a semitone apart with a full tone at the very end of the lick. Keep in mind there are a few "hammer ons from nowhere" if you want to play it exactly as is on the album... However at full speed I think it's fine to just begin each new string with a tap.

Section 8 Tips

This section has a crazy shred that took me SOOOOOOOOO long to decipher. Let's take a look at the lick. (See excerpt below)

The first bar of this run I managed to break down into a strange emphasis that really helped me practice it. Even though the shred itself is in straight semiquavers/16th notes I think of it as note groupings of 5, 4, 4 and 3 respectively. Try it and see if that helps you.

The second bar of that phrase has 2 very quick arpeggios based around a B7sus4. Take you time implementing these arpeggios straight after a shred... It's absolutely soul destroying.

Section 9 Tips

This next section isn't too hard, however it's a bit tricky to jump between 2 different techniques. Let's look at the lick! (See excerpt below)

The 1st bar of this lick uses semiquavers/16th notes for almost the entire duration. Pay close attention to the 13th fret on the second string which acts as somewhat of a pedal point note.

The next things is dealing with a quick jump to the taps. Just having an awareness of the tap lick coming up is half the battle so be prepared. It's the same 3 notes played 8 times with a semiquaver triplet emphasis.

Section 10 Tips

The final tap lick has a chromatically deciding tap. The lick itself is a little bit faint in the mix and I've seen a few covers that don't do play it this way... But I slowed it down a bunch and listened to it and I bet my cat Andrew's stinky but this is what's on the record. (See excerpt below)

Similarly to section 9 this tap lick has a semiquaver triplet emphasis. Pay close attention to the tapping notes as the fretting hand notes stay the same 8 times!

I hope you guys have enjoyed this epic lesson... I still maintain that it's actually harder on Guitar Hero!

Happy shredding!

Download the tab here.

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By Chris Zoupa

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    What is cool about that video is that Herman Li can now learn the solos
    The playthrough at the beginning was pretty sketchy, especially from :30-:45.
    Chris Zoupa
    dick sandwich
    You can't honestly tell me that you think the sweeps at :40 in are anything but a mess. A lot of the 15 seconds I mentioned just sound flat out wrong compared to the actual song which means either you either can't actually manage to play it or else learned the part wrong and therefor you are teaching the song incorrectly. As to your response... that was very immature of you. Generally if somebody mentions a negative quality of your material, the logical thing to do is take a look and see what exactly they are griping about. That way you can try and actually improve on it. I don't know about you, but if it were me, I'd want my lessons to be as good as they can be and so would be open to actually investigating complaints. To me, a bad playthrough would be a major turnoff since it indicates that you are likely incapable of playing the material correctly and I would immediately search for a different lesson. You mentioned in your lesson that you teach guitar lessons. If a student were to ask to learn a song, and you were to try and teach them, and they made a comment that it doesn't sound correct when you play it, would you have a similar reaction?
    Wow.. didn't think it was possible.. Bash Dragonforce all you want about lyrics and cheese but those guys have some serious chops. Props to you for deciphering their madness.
    This man never fails to amaze! BTW, I'm not into DragonForce, I've only heard of them through this song, and I see a lot of hate for them across the net, can anyone explain?
    Several reasons, of course, but most importantly I guess are some of these: 1. Many people have a raging hate-boner for everything that becomes popular and so they did after Guitar Hero during their Inhuman Rampage tour. Then stuff like the Graspop 2006 videos got increasingly popular and it didn't show Dragonforce at their best. The venue had terrible sound as it was and combine that with the fact that they had really shoddy monitoring at the time and you had quite the, well... suboptimal performance. Contrary to once popular opinion, they definitely can play their stuff live. 2. Their first three albums did really not offer a lot of variation, especially in terms of song-structure, hence the reason why people still joke about their songs all sounding the same even though that hasn't been true since their 2008 release Ultra Beatdown and has even become more falsified by each release ever since then. 3. It's still kinda power metal so it's not trve enough for the cool kids anyway.
    Bwahahahaha. Awesome lesson... the odds of me playing this? Bwahahahaha. Hats off Mr Zoupa. You sir can shred.
    Possibly one of your best lessons, you do a really good job of teaching how to play this and this will help any aspiring shredders get better at any lead thanks to the diversity of difficult parts that can be applied anywhere hats off for the lesson and being able to play this.
    so does that dude use a pick? when hes tapping, he has his entire hand spread wide open so it doesnt look like he has it tucked into the inside of one of his knuckles or anything....
    Oh my fucking god! this guy would give Slash a run for his money! Dragon force kinda sucks but THAT SOLO...