Friday, July 22, 2011

Riff of the Day: The Enemy Within (Rush)

In the 20 years since I started playing guitar, there have been quite a few bits and pieces of Rush songs I've never been able to play, usually because I can't play fast. A great example of this would be that damned intro riff from "The Spirit of Radio." I can play it maybe half as fast--but I have never been able to break whatever speed barrier it is that keeps me from playing much of anything speedy.

Then there are riffs that I've tried to work out over the years and failed, usually because I was going about it all wrong, such as the 12-string pattern Lifeson plays under the " To stand within the Pleasure Dome decreed by Kubla Khan / To taste anew the fruits of life, the last immortal man" part of Xanadu, which turned out to be a lot simpler than I was making it out to be.

The intro to "The Enemy Within" (from Grace Under Pressure) is another one that eluded me for years. The last time I tried to work it out was maybe a decade ago. Couldn't get it, probably because I was making it too complicated. It became one of those elusive "I'm gonna have to figure that one out someday" things that pile up and never see brain cells again.

A couple of nights ago, I got bored and gave it another try...and this time it took maybe 15 minutes total.

I'm kind of pissed at myself because it turned out to be so simple:


Perf. note: Bass plays the root notes as whole notes--B, F#, E, A; the guitar fills in the "space" of the rest of the measure. Think "minimalism."

For the first two measures, form the basic 2nd-fret Bm chord, but don't barre it. After you finger the 3rd fret 2nd string in 1st measure, use that same shape to play the 2nd measure. You don't even need to move your fingers.

For measures 3-4, bar the top 4 strings at the 2nd fret. That's all--just skip the 2nd string in the 3rd bar. For the 4th bar, all you have to do is hold that chord and drop your middle finger on the 3rd fret.

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