Rusty Cooley shares ideas from a song he co-wrote with Derek Sherinian

What’s up guitar aficionados? It’s good to be back for another round of “Fierce Guitar.” This month I’m going to show you a couple of ideas from a song called “Frozen by Fire” that I co-wrote with keyboard maestro Derek Sherinian. The song is from Derek’s new CD Molecular Heinosity. Check it out and crank it up.

Example 1 is the opening lick that is doubled by the keys. The tonality is E Phrygian Dominant mode 5 of the key of A Harmonic minor. The A Harmonic minor scale consists of A, B, C, D, E, F, G# A. Phrygian Dominant mode starts on the 5th degree, or E. It’s the same notes, just beginning and ending on E, which is what makes it modal.


This lick was played on a seven-string guitar, and uses alternate picking all the way. It has three groups of fourteen notes that can be subdivided into groups of six followed by groups of eight before resolving to the low E. If you don’t have a seven-string guitar, you can still pretty much play the entire lick, so don’t worry about it. Try to dig into the style of the lick so you can use this musical idea in your own playing.

Example 2
is the very next riff in the song, with the same tonality. This is a good example of how to fuse rhythm guitar with fills. Take this one slowly, because the picking kills. This one is actually harder to play than the intro lick, and is also doubled by the keys and bass on the track. This rhythm was also played on a seven-string guitar. If you don’t have a seven, just start everything on the sixth string. It won’t be in the same key anymore, but that’s okay. Just work on understanding the musical direction and getting a feel for the scale.


Example 3 comes in around 1:31 into the piece. The chord progression is B, E minor, C, G, F#, B, C. This time around I chose to play arpeggios over the chords. I wanted to mix it up a bit, so I first used legato string-skipping arpeggios and then some sweeping. The legato section is standard groups of six, with the tricky part being the wide stretched string skipping. The sweeping part is “stock” sweeps grouped in sevens.


See tab larger

Okay, that’s it for this month. Have fun and keep shredding. Okay, that’s it for this month. Have fun and keep shredding.

Rusty Cooley
Rusty Cooley has been playing and teaching for over 20 years, and has recorded as a solo artist, with his band Outworld, and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. He has six instructional DVDs and a signature model 7-string guitar, the RC7 by Dean Guitars.

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