What to Remember When Performing Billy Idol's "White Wedding"

Guitarist Steve Stevens employs palm muting to effectively add metronome-like precision to his rhythm parts in “White Wedding,” such as in bars 6–13 (labeled Rhy. Fig. 1). Indicated by the abbreviation “P.M.” in the tablature, palm muting involves lightly resting the outside edge of your pick hand (below the base of the pinkie) on the strings near the bridge as you pick or strum.

As this contact dampens and reduces string vibration, the sound and decay, or duration, of the notes are directly affected by the amount of palm pressure applied to the strings. Increasing it generally results in quieter and more subdued notes with a quicker decay, which is often ideal for the verse section of a song, such as this one, where the focus is on the vocals.

Stevens performs these palm-muted strums with consecutive downstrokes and essentially doubles the bass line’s “pumping” eighth notes an octave higher while accenting the second and fourth beats of each bar with a B5 power chord, which reinforces the backbeat feel of the drums (where the snare hits). He uses the same picking pattern over the E5, D5 and A5 chords.

Don’t let the seeming simplicity of this guitar part lull you into approaching it too casually. Any lapse in concentration or deviation from the steady eighth-note attack will result in a painfully obvious break in the groove. As the song unfolds, Stevens adds an additional rhythm track comprised of sparse two-note chords, or dyads. What makes this fill interesting is that it remains constant while the prevailing harmony underneath it keeps changing—the same dyads are played against each successive chord in the verse progression (B5, A5 and E5).

For Jeff Perrin's tab of "White Wedding," check out the March 2018 issue of Guitar World.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49