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Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo

Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo

September 25th, 2008 by

Welcome back to the Technical Difficulties column! As I previously did with the “Day of the Dead” solo by Allan Holdsworth, today I am going to analyze and play a solo by one of my favorite guitar players of all time: Scott Henderson.

Scott is a phenomenal musician who has widely expanded the guitar language throughout the years, particularly in the jazz/fusion and blues context. He is known especially for his great sense of phrasing, touch, dynamic control, amazing time, and incredible attention for articulations. He has been recording and playing around the world in different collaborations and projects for more than twenty years, but he is mainly known for his work with Tribal Tech.

Tribal Tech recorded an album called Reality Check in 1995, which features the song “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam.” I will play the second solo from this song and analyze some of my favorite lines in it. Pay attention to the wonderful guitar tone he uses and the overall control of the instrument that he has.

Here is the solo played by me. I used a relatively low-gain tone to make some of the articulations a bit clearer.

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Note that the transcription below is of 5 select lines that I have chosen, not the entire solo. Listen to the recording several times and you’ll have no trouble picking out these passages. The transcription is followed by a discussion and analysis.

Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” SoloScott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo 2Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo 3Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo 4Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo 5

Line 1 – 0:01 – 0:10

The first line I want to talk about is a perfect example of a simple D minor pentatonic-based line that can become very effective when played with an original and “unexpected” rhythm. Great sense of time!

Line 2 – 0:16 – 0:22

The second line also starts from the same harmonic concept, but it develops in a very fascinating sounding way: he hits the first F# over the B chord followed by a B, a D# (B Major triad), and then the A (the 13th) over the C9 #11 chord to end with a A-B-A-B trill on the Bm7 #5 chord. The strong harmony change in this solo is accompanied a change in the rhythmic structure of his phrases, with an emphasis on triplets.

Line 3 – 0:23 – 0:30

The third line is one of my favorites. It is effective, fresh, linearly balanced, it builds tension, and it releases it perfectly at the end. It is a pretty jazzy sounding line that uses the third mode of the melodic minor scale during the first measure, the D major scale during the second measure until he hits the F (minor third of D), and the G minor scale in the third measure to end the line on a G (5th of C13 #11) in the fourth measure.

Line 4 – 0:30 – 0:45

The fourth line again starts as a simple D minor pentatonic-based line, but it rapidly develops with a mix of chromatics and four-note arpeggio ideas; mainly a series of major 9 arpeggios, except for the last three where the higher note moves up a half step and evolves into the last arpeggio formed with C, D, and G. Great effect to achieve the climax point of this solo, and once again take note of his amazing sense of rhythm!

Line 5 – 0:50 – 1:01

The fifth and last line (D minor pentatonic all the way through) is a mixture of different articulations and small details that add a special touch to the “resolution” of this solo.

As always I want to thank you all for reading my column, and I will hopefully see you next time. Until then!

Scott Henderson’s “Stella by Infra-Red High Particle Neutron Beam” Solo

About Francesco Artusato

Francesco Artusato is a guitar player/composer with a Berklee College of Music degree (major in Film Scoring). He has extensive experience in teaching guitar and music theory; his expertise is in the Rock/Metal language. Francesco is currently part of a Metal band called Hiss of Atrocities, and has also recorded three instrumental solo projects. His column at Guitar Messenger is called Technical Difficulties, and it will be focused mainly on developing different techniques such as vibrato, bending, picking, legato playing, tapping, sweeping, and every other mechanical challenges related to the guitar. The purpose of this column is to show how to incorporate all the different techniques into musical phrases, and not just seeing them as physical workouts (rhythm, melody, and harmony are always the primary concern). Music always first!

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  • subjulio

    Hi, can you give me some advice to obtain the guitar tone Scott has in this tune?

    • Ivan Chopik

      I guess that depends on where you’re at with your tone now! In the case of Francesco’s tone above, start with a nice compressed tone, not too much distortion, and add some pretty epic reverb to add space and depth.

  • Regulo Castro

    Hi! Thanks for sharing this worderfull information
    I’m a keyboard player getting into guitar-like soloing,I just tumbled into you article on Holdsworth soloing and this Henderson’s solo is a really “must learn” for me,but sorrily I can’t read tablature.Don’t you have this in “conventional notation”,if this is how is named in english (I’m a spanish speaker)
    Again,thanks for sharing all this wonderfull information.
    Regulo Castro

    • Ivan Chopik

      Hi Regulo! Thanks for the kind words – Francesco really did an amazing job with this lesson. I uploaded a notation version for you here: The program we use is more geared towards tab, so there may be some weird enharmonic spellings and other small quirks throughout, but otherwise it’s identical to the tab. Hope this helps! Let me know when you grab the file, so I can take it off the server.