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 TipsThe 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 TipsThe 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 TipsThis 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 TipsThis 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 TipsThe 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 TipsThe 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 TipsYour 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 TipsThis 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 TipsThis 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 TipsThe 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!
Download the tab here.
By Chris Zoupa