Thrash Course with Dave Davidson: Using Mixed Meters, and How to Play “Labyrinth of Eyes,” Part 2 — Video

Last month, I detailed several of the primary riffs in the Revocation song “Labyrinth of Eyes,” from our 2014 album, Deathless. Those riffs, as you recall, are played in 12/8 meter.

This month, I’d like to show you the song’s remaining primary riffs, which introduce an unexpected twist by shifting to two bars of 3/4 followed by a bar of 2/4.

One could alternatively count these phrases as being in straight 4/4 time, as two bars of 4/4 totals the same number of beats, eight, but once you play through these figures, I’m sure you’ll appreciate the rhythmic merit of utilizing the shifting meters, which correspond to the phrasing in a more logical way.

While maintaining the inherent eighth-note triplet feel of 12/8 meter—three evenly spaced eighth notes per beat—I begin with a phrase based on Abdim7, as shown in FIGURE 1.This one-bar riff, which is repeated in bar 2, is built from the root note, Ab, the, minor, or “flatted,” third, B (or Cb), the flatted fifth, D, and the flatted ninth, A. The D and A notes are sounded as open strings, which adds a rich texture to the lick while also facilitating its performance. I shift to 2/4 meter in bar 3, where I bring in the sixth, a low F, fretted on the sixth string’s first fret. Now, all of the notes of an Abdim7 arpeggio are included: Ab, B, D and F.

I then modulate, or transpose, the idea down three whole steps to the tritone, D, where I alter the lick’s melodic shape slightly. On beat two of bars 4 and 5, I move from the D root note down to the sixth, B, instead of up to the minor third, as I had done with Abdim7 in bar 1. In bar 6, which momentarily shifts to 2/4 meter, I play a pedal-tone figure, in which I alternate between the D root note and the remaining notes of a Ddim7 arpeggio above it, Ab, B and D one octave higher. In this bar, each low D note is picked with a downstroke and all of the other notes are picked with upstrokes.

FIGURE 2 illustrates the subsequent phrase, which begins with a modulation up a minor third to Bdim7. Bars 1–3 include the notes of the Bdim triad, B, D, and Eb. I then modulate down two whole steps to Gdim7 in bars 4–6. In these bars, I’ve simply replaced the B note in bars 1–3 with a low G, while keeping all of the other notes the same.

The final riff, shown in FIGURE 3, brings the open low B string into play. Here, I start off with two bars of a repeating eighth-note-triplet syncopation on the open low B note, followed by a sequence based on C#dim7, outlined by the notes C#, F, B and G. In bar 6, the pattern from bar 3 is simply shifted up one fret with a slight change—the two notes on the fifth string are only a half step apart instead of a whole step, so now this shape outlines a Bm(add9) chord, via the notes D, F# and C#.

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