[In this second part of his masterclass for Guitar Messenger, Tosin Abasi of Animals As Leaders demonstrates the main riff and breaks down the opening lick from ‘Tempting Time.’ Although Tosin is playing his 8-string Ibanez through an Axe-Fx Ultra, all of these parts can be played on a 7-string, and so the 8th string has been omitted from the tabs.]
Tempting Time Riff
We’re going to talk about rhythm, specifically in the song ‘Tempting Time,’ which has a polymetric feel to it. I didn’t really conceive of this riff technically before I went about creating the phrase – I literally just started tapping and this is what came out. If I were to break it down the way I think of it, I would treat it as an ostinato.
[Though set against a 4/4 pulse, the ‘Tempting Time’ riff is in 19/16, played 4 times, with a dotted 8th and 16th phrase as a turnaround .]
It’s cool to retain that same quarter note pulse, because it creates a sense of uniformity in groove. That’s how we approach the majority of our rhythms – we try to imply an even meter, or at least a perceivable quarter note pulse as the center of the riff, and then everything else is syncopated around that. You can hear this stuff all over the album, but that’s kind of a dive into how I’m thinking about it.
Tempting Time Arpeggio
I’m going to show you a portion of the lick in ‘Tempting Time’ at the beginning of the song. It’s a 3-octave sweep in C, and it’s pretty much a major triad, but you play a #4 and then you slide up to the 5th.
The fingering’s actually symmetrical in the first two octaves, which is nice. The picking works out pretty nicely, as well. When you get to the A string, you have three notes, so you have this Down-Down-Down-Up-Down picking pattern. So once you get to this third downstroke, you’re set up to continue sweeping – and then it repeats. It’s kind of an economy picking approach to doing this lick.
[Tosin adds a major 7th to the arpeggio in between the second third octaves, and changes his picking pattern while descending on the A string.]
In ‘Tempting Time’ I do this triplet-based descending pattern where I’m playing a portion of the arpeggio at a time, which is another cool way of using it. There are countless ways you could go about ascending or descending it.
It’s definitely a cool use of all seven strings. I use that symmetry for a lot of my licks, because it’s the most obvious way of lengthening a phrase.