To produce the distinctive “biting” attack heard in his intro riff to “Man on the Silver Mountain,” guitarist Ritchie Blackmore performs the figure using upstroke strums for all the two-note chords, as indicated in bars 1–4 of the transcription.
Combined with his short, staccato rhythms, Blackmore’s approach creates a precise sound similar to what would result from playing fingerstyle, with a fingerpick on each finger. Notice that Blackmore does pick each low G note on the sixth string’s third fret with a downstroke. Regarding his fret-hand fingerings, Blackmore barres each double-stop with either his index or ring finger and frets the low G notes with his thumb, Delta-blues style.
To best perform Blackmore’s fluid keyboard-like arpeggios during the song’s pre-chorus (section C), use strict down-up-down-up alternate picking, as indicated by the picking prompts in bar 21. Fret each three-note triad shape, rather than adding and removing fingers for each note individually. To keep the arpeggio notes from ringing together too much, apply a light pick-hand palm mute on the G and B strings.
When learning to play through these swiftly moving arpeggios, practice them slowly at first and focus on perfecting the alternate picking involved while trying to minimize your pick-hand movement. It’s also helpful to practice with a metronome while tapping your foot on each downbeat, to make sure your timing is solid and consistent.
For Jeff Perrin's tab of this song, pick up the June 2018 issue of Guitar World.