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Artist Riff: Yossi Sassi of Orphaned Land Plays ‘Numbers World’

August 15th, 2013

[Yossi’s Paul Reed Smith guitar is tuned to Standard Tuning: E A D G B E.]

Numbers World – Main Riff

Over the past 20+ years Yossi Sassi of Orphaned Land has become known for fusing East with West and for taking oriental rock guitar to the extreme! Let’s take a close look at one of the tracks off his solo album Melting Clocks to demonstrate how he achieves this fusion. The passage below comes from the main riff off the track ‘Numbers’ World:’

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Yossi Sassi - Numbers World Riff

This riff consists of four main components. The opening sequence is based on E Natural Minor (simple enough!). Once the phrase climbs to the B on the 7th fret of the low-E string, Yossi switches to B Harmonic-Minor Perfect 5th (also known as B Phrygian Dominant or ‘Hijaz,’ as referenced  in Makamat), which is the 5th mode of E Harmonic Minor. Yossi presents the following fingering for the scale:

B Phrygian Dominant

In bars 3 and 4, Yossi explores a phrase based on the E Harmonic-Minor Perfect 5th scale (again, it is also known as E Phrygian Dominant or ‘Hijaz,’ as it is called in the middle-east). In this case, this is the 5th mode of A Harmonic Minor. Yossi utilizes a fragment of the following scale fingering:

E Phrygian Dominant

The riff is closed out with a groovy, rhythmic phrase that is based on the E Minor Pentatonic scale with some chromatic passing tones. All 4 ingredients combined give us this riff, which takes you around the world!

  • For more information on Makamat (the Arabic/middle-eastern scales) click HERE.
  • For more information on Harmonic Minor Perfect 5th / Phrygian Dominant click HERE. 


[Special thanks to Or Lubianiker for his excellent video filming & editing and Peter Boyle for his detailed TAB articulations and scale transcriptions.]