[Chris’ Strandberg Boden CL7 signature 7-string guitar is in Standard Tuning: B E A D G B E.]
In this lesson, Chris Letchford breaks down the intro to ‘Atlas Novus’ off Scale The Summit’s third record, The Migration. As explored in our 2011 Artist Lick feature with Chris, this excerpt is also based around the classic Scale The Summit suspended 2nd (sus2) arpeggio sound.
Based in the key of B Minor, section A (mm. 1-4) outlines a Gadd9(#11), Aadd9(11), Bmin progression, while the B section (mm. 5-10) shifts between Bmin(add9) and G arpeggios. The left hand outlines sus2 shapes, consisting of the root, 5th, and 9th (which is the second scale degree an octave higher). Within section A, the left hand variations also include the third of the chord, in which case it makes more sense to view these arpeggios as add9 (1, 3, 5, 9), rather than sus2.
The right hand adds both tensions and chord tones to the arpeggios, which can be tapped by the index and middle fingers. The exception to this fingering occurs in measures three and four, where Chris switches to tapping with his index and ring fingers to accommodate for the wider octave shapes.
A key factor in nailing these licks is getting the timing right: note that in section A, each arpeggio starts with a triplet, while section B consists entirely of quintuplets (5 notes per beat). To practice, start by listening to the track and internalizing the rhythms. At this stage, the actual notes aren’t as important as programming the rhythmic figures into your mind and feeling them against a steady pulse. Once that happens, the notes will fall into place with some slow, repetitive practice to train your muscle memory!
[Special thanks to Brandon Epling for his additional camera work and Ron Vantassell of Greenline Vape for kindly sharing his space with us for the filming of this feature.]