One of my favorite ways to write primary song riffs with Periphery and Haunted Shores is to first come up with a chord progression built from interesting and unusual voicings, then break up each chord into single-note patterns built primarily from the chord tones. The challenge is to devise different ways to connect all of the chords in the progression via these single-note phrases.
I find that employing slides to move from one fretboard position to the next in the middle of a phrase can greatly alter the sound of it, as well as influence the notes that I choose to play. The results can often be totally unexpected and surprising, as playing the same notes but in different areas of the neck can serve to inspire new and different melodic ideas.
In the music of Periphery, we use a lot of what I like to refer to as “spider crawl” riffs—twisted single-note phrases that are generally used as transitions between song sections. Many of the typical phrases we come up with are rather acrobatic and involve a lot of finger slides, hammer-ons and pull-offs, along with a lot of shifting up and down the neck in order to articulate the riffs properly.
In writing riffs and song parts for the music of Periphery, it’s important to me to evoke a sense of movement and fluidity. One of my favorite ways to achieve a sense of movement is to perform single-note riffs that incorporate dramatic position shifts up and down the fretboard, necessitating very specific movement that is often articulated with extended finger slides.
In last month’s column, I discussed some of the ways I will often expand on single-note riff ideas by substituting full-voiced chords for individual notes. This month, I’d like to continue with that topic and talk about my approach to using dissonant intervals in chords and as double-stops (two-note chords).
Hello, and welcome to my new Guitar World column! For this first entry, I’d like to discuss the way in which I approach using chords in conjunction with single notes in the formation of many of the riffs and guitar parts I write for Periphery and Haunted Shores.
Periphery have become a force to be reckoned with in the progressive metal scene with their unique “djent” sound, poly-rhythmic patterns and soaring melodies. Guitarist Mark Holcomb helps achieve this full, lethal sound with PRS guitars loaded with Seymour Duncan Mark Holcomb Signature Pickups dubbed “Alpha” and “Omega.”