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Watch Nile Rodgers shred up a storm on Steve Vai's Ibanez JEM in recently unearthed studio footage from Halo 2 score sessions

Martin O'Donnell – the main composer for the Halo video games series – has uploaded footage of Steve Vai and Nile Rodgers helping compose the iconic, guitar-driven theme for Halo 2.

The 27-minute video documents how together the electric guitar superstars transformed the original Halo theme into something far more hard-rocking and shred-heavy.

As Rodgers can be seen explaining in the video above, he wanted to create something “really true” to the original game's soundtrack.

From the 0:53 mark, the funk legend can be seen analyzing the string-driven segment of the Halo 2 theme, before picking up his trademark Fender 'Hitmaker' Stratocaster (a replica of which was just added to Fender's lineup) and improvising a characteristically funky accompanying chord progression.

Rodgers jokingly remembers once offering up a similarly-flavored progression when he was once playing with Eric Clapton.

“I was doing something like this with [Clapton],” he says, “[and he sat there and went ‘Okay, now what am I gonna play?’ – he said ‘you're covering all the harmony and all the rhythm, what am I supposed to do?’”

Before long, Vai turns up, and listens patiently to Rodgers as the funk master explains what he's looking for. Rodgers then plays Vai the original Halo theme, for context, and – in an amusing voice – sings for him approximately the solo he wants Vai to play.

After Vai warms up a bit, he hands his Ibanez JEM off to Rodgers for a few minutes. Right around the 6:17 mark, Rodgers proceeds to unleash some rapid-fire licks on the Ibanez, populated with guitar-face inducing bends and smokin' alternate picking. "This [the Ibanez] feels great!" Rodgers enthuses to Vai before handing back his prized axe.

Beginning at around the 9-minute mark, the footage shows Vai pretty much nailing what became the eventual lead guitar track on the first take. 

The whole video is an incredible snapshot of the maestro at work, but it does make us long for a Rodgers/Vai jam in which Vai plays the Hitmaker and Rodgers plays a JEM. One can only dream...

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.

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