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Periphery / Haunted Shores: Mark Holcomb Masterclass (Part 2)

November 15th, 2010




Sentient Glow Intro Riff

[With the exception of ‘Scarlet,’ Mark’s guitar is tuned to Drop-C for all examples in this Masterclass: C G C F A D] The Intro riff for ‘Sentient Glow’ starts out with this chord [Dmin(add9)]. The third time you hit the chord, you change the high voicing of it by shifting the note on the 4th string from the 4th fret to the 5th fret to create a bigger, airy sound [Dmin] – taking away the 9th and doubling the b3rd. Then in measure 6 the first chord I introduced in Part 1 of the Masterclass comes back again, this time up a whole step as [Fmin7(9,11)]. When the riff repeats after measure 8, it changes slightly. [Compare measure 5 to measure 13.]

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Haunted Shores - Sentient Glow Intro Riff

Sentient Glow Verse Riff

The first chord in the Verse riff of ‘Sentient Glow’ is a power chord on the 4th and 3rd strings. This run starting in measure 3 is one of those things that just feels good. That run in measure 8 is really easy – it’s like a watered-down Yngwie Malmsteen thing, with the open 1st string at the end to add a different tail end to it.

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Haunted Shores - Sentient Glow Verse Riff

Scarlet Main Riff

We have a song called ‘Scarlet’ that’s in a different tuning. Sometimes I like to break out of a rut by trying a new tuning. Starting from Drop-C, C G C F A D, you tune the F down a half step to E and the A down a whole step to G, leaving you with C G C E G D. I learned that from Misha Mansoor – he wrote a song called ‘Epic Fail’ for OMNOM, which is a project that we have with Elliot Coleman from Sky Eats Airplane. Misha learned this tuning from Nolly Getgood from the band Red Seas Fire, who’s an excellent guitar player – he taught Misha this tuning.

I just got all of these ideas from it. That’s where the main riff of ‘Scarlet’ popped up, and the Pre-Chorus riff – that whole song basically was written in a whole day. I just went over to Misha’s house with three riffs, and we sat down and we finished the song in a matter of hours. It was really natural. Here’s the main riff of that song, which is repeated a couple of times throughout:

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Haunted Shores - Scarlet Main Riff

Scarlet Main Riff (Octave)

In the song, you’ll notice that the riff pops up again as a Chorus the first time, and it pops in again as a climactic part after a slow break – and then we’re playing everything doubled an octave up. For the most part, the higher layer of the middle riff is the main riff played 12 frets up.

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Haunted Shores - Scarlet Main Riff (Octave)

Terra Firma Intro Riff

This is the Intro riff for a song that started as ‘When Is Oslo’ and is now called ‘Terra Firma.’ The opening chord is again the same chord voicing I showed you in Part 1 of the Masterclass, but down a half step [Emin7(9,11)]. Then there’s this run in measure 2 – you’re doing a hammer-on and pull-off there, and sliding that third note down to the 4th fret immediately without picking again.

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Haunted Shores - Terra Firma Intro Riff

Terra Firma Chorus Riff

The Chorus riff of ‘Terra Firma’ starts with this quarter step bend, and then this run in measure 2 with hammer-ons and pull-offs. Then there’s a flurry of picking at the start of measure 3 to make things interesting with the kick drum. Those chords in measure 4 are [D7] and [Amin].  It’s a really fun riff to play.

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Haunted Shores - Terra Firma Chorus Riff

[Special thanks to: DP and Editor Zach Jopling, Assistant Cameraman Habib Awan and Soundman Alex Hura, along with Chris Robinson for his excellent intro.]