[Richie’s Ibanez RG 8-string guitar is tuned to Drop-E: E B E A D G B E,
and his Ibanez Jem 555 guitar is in Standard tuning: E A D G B E.]
In this lesson, Richie Allan breaks down several sections from Design, the closing track of the Heavy Metal Ninjas album, Interstellar Abduction:
Arpeggio Section: Lead Guitar (1:04 – 1:16)
First up, Richie digs into the sweeping arpeggio section of Design. Be careful to maintain clear separation between all notes, particularly within arpeggio shapes that require barring several strings with the same finger. Left-hand muting and rolling will go a long way to prevent notes from bleeding into one another!
In terms of harmony, Richie is playing in the key of E minor, shifting from a string of C major arpeggio inversions to E minor arpeggio inversions. What gives this section its flavor, however, are the tension notes he mixes in with the triad arpeggios. For the C major arpeggios, he adds in a #11 tension (F#), implying a C Lydian sound. Transitioning with an alternate-picked chromatic line, he moves on to the E minor arpeggios, where he adds some spice using the blues note, a.k.a. the b5 interval (Bb). The key to nailing the position shifts this section is solid knowledge of all arpeggio inversions across the neck!
Arpeggio Section: Bass & Rhythm Guitar (1:04 – 1:16)
The bass and rhythm guitar parts behind the sweeping arpeggios serve as a bridge between the old-school neoclassical shred world, and the modern progressive metal riffing styles. Be sure to listen to the track carefully and lock into the 4/4 pulse, in order to nail the shifting downbeat and upbeat accents.
Harmonically, Richie is still in the key of E minor, outlining a C major to E minor chord progression. This time, a diminished arpeggio riff serves as the connective tissue between the two chords. The riff is rounded out by some mighty open chugs, utilizing the vast low-end real estate provided by an 8-string guitar in Drop-E.
Tapping Section: Bass & Rhythm Guitar (2:08 – 2:40)
This section revolves around a rhythmic pattern, which consists of both hands tapping an E note an octave apart. Reaching over top of the neck with your fretting hand will not only allow you tap the fifth fret on the low B string, but will also give you the opportunity to cover the top five strings to prevent them from ringing out. The challenge here lies in the rhythm; be careful to analyze the pattern and memorize the groove as it changes in each measure.
Solo (2:40 – 3:05)
The solo for Design starts out with some wild phrasing filled with dive bombs, a dissonant minor second interval stab, and some heavy duty vibrato. Starting in bar five, Richie introduces some melodies based on the E harmonic minor scale (E F# G A B C D#), and goes on to add extra flavor with an E hungarian minor run (E F# G A# B C D#) starting in measure eight. Note the added tension that the raised fourth degree of the hungarian minor scale creates!
In bars ten through twelve, Richie offers an interesting approach to octave displacement. Essentially, he’s outlining a simple chromatic line, but because each note in the line is spread out into different octaves, the resulting sound has a very wide, angular feel. To add even further to this unusual feel, the notes are rhythmically arranged into quintuplets!
Continuing on with the quintuplet feel, Richie changes gears harmonically in bars 13-15, with a series of three-string augmented dominant arpeggios: Bb+7 (Bb, D, F#, Ab), D+7 (D, F#, Bb, C), and F#+7 (F#, Bb, D, E). Note that these arpeggios are all a major third apart. This symmetric quality comes from the whole-tone scale, in which each note is a whole step away from the next. Combining the notes of these arpeggios spells out a Bb whole tone scale: Bb, C, D, E, F#, G#.
The solo comes to a fiery finish with some sixteenth note nonuplets (nine notes squeezed into a half note duration) in bars 15-16, this time using G+ (G, B, D#) and D#+ (D#, G, B) arpeggios repeated across two octaves!
More Features With Richie Allan
Learn more licks and riffs with Allan by following the lesson links below. Also, be sure to check out the Heavy Metal Ninjas official music video for Design!
- Heavy Metal Ninjas: Richie Allan Lesson – Interstellar Abduction
- Heavy Metal Ninjas: Richie Allan Lesson – Istagey & Melodyk
- Heavy Metal Ninjas: Richie Allan’s Gear (Coming Soon)
- Heavy Metal Ninjas: Richie Allan Lesson – Propulsion (Coming Soon)
[Special thanks to Peter Boyle for his transcription editing!]