I’m going to break down a segment of my song ‘Event Horizon,’ from my album Quadrasonic, for you to check out and study. For me, good composition always comes before anything else. I always try to paint the whole picture using all of the instruments. With this segment, I have added a lot of detail to the rhythm section and the chords underneath – otherwise it would just sound like a meaningless arpeggio sequence. What happens when you put all the elements of this arrangement in context is that the picture is completed, creating a strong melodic sense that sticks in your mind.
Arrangement: Harmony & Rhythm
I’ll start by analyzing the chord progression behind the melody. For the most part, it’s a descending chromatic progression: Cmin – Cmin(maj7) – Cmin7 – Cmin6 – Abmaj7 – Cmin/G – Fmin(add9) – Dbmaj7.
Let’s also take a look at the rhythmic structure of the piece. It’s pretty straight ahead – it’s one measure of 4/4 and one measure of 7/8. I like to subdivide the 7/8 measure into 4 and 3 for easier counting: 1 2 3 4 – 1234 – 123. To me, this has a more natural feel to it.
Melody & Technique
The melody on top of this is a continuous stream of 16th notes that arpeggiate the chords I just showed you, with a few exceptions here and there that I’ll point out. The important thing with this sequence is to connect the shapes smoothly. It starts with a Cmin arpeggio with a tap on the highest note – the Eb on the 23rd fret of the 1st string.
When you’re coming from the end of the Cmin, slide to the next position for the Baug triad that’s played over the Cmin(maj7). The next part is an Ebmaj arpeggio over the Cmin7 chord. Like the Cmin, this starts with a tap on the 23rd fret of 1st string. Notice also that this uses a different pattern when it ascends towards the Cmin6.
The Cmin6 arpeggio slides up to the G#maj7 arpeggio, and for the Cmin/G I’m playing a Cmin(add9) arpeggio. For the Fmin(add9) I break the pattern by playing a grouping of three notes, then four, five and another four. Finally, I play a C#maj7 arpeggio, with a lot of tapping and sliding between the B# and the C# on the 20th and 21st frets of the 1st string.