Today I’m going to be talking you through my transcription for my band’s song “Make Total Destroy” from our latest album Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal. (Check out the recent video feature here on No Treble).
You’ll need a 5-string bass with 24 frets to be able to play the song in its entirety, and we’re going to be tuning to drop Ab (Gb – Db – Ab – Eb – Ab from high to low). I’d recommend using heavy gauge strings and an extended-scale instrument if possible, in order to be able to achieve the necessary clarity when tuning so low. Personally, I use Dingwall Combustion II basses, which have a multi-scale design that gives a 37˝ scale on the low side, along with custom gauge Circle K strings (0.039-0.158) that provide ample tension and sound great for my style.
I play with a pick, with the exception of any slap-and-pop sections for which I tuck the pick under my index finger and use my middle finger for the popped notes.
Tonally, you’re going to want a compressed and heavily distorted sound with a lot of midrange grind. I use the Darkglass Electronics B7K overdrive pedal as the basis of my tone and highly recommend it – it allows me to dial in a lot of pleasingly filthy gain without sacrificing low end clarity. During the slap-and-pop parts I turn off the distortion for a more percussive sound.
Anyway, enough with the gear talk, let’s get stuck in!
The song kicks off with a fast-moving riff that hits four octaves of Ab in the first six notes [letter A], but thankfully its bark is worse than its bite – during the tapping the right hand always stays 12 frets above the left and the use of open strings throughout means there is plenty of time to get to each position. Make sure you tap accurately to ensure the notes sound out clearly and evenly, and pay attention to the syncopated rhythms in between the faster runs.
Moving to letter B we get our first taste of a heavily syncopated rhythmic device that features at many points during the song. Here we’re going to be using slap and pop technique to accentuate the staccato feel of the riff. In my tab, the dead notes across multiple strings denote a fretting hand slap, while the single dead notes on the low Ab are slaps while the string is being muted by the fretting hand.
Explaining this rhythm isn’t going to be easy, so bear with me!
We’ll be playing a figure that cycles after 31 16th notes (i.e. one 16th note short of two bars of 4), against a 4/4 pulse, creating a polyrhythm that loops 4 times before an extra quarter-note figure is added to round the section out at exactly 8 bars. This may take a lot of practice to be able to “hear” correctly and it’s very easy to get lost along the way, my advice would be to follow the snare drum – its accents directly correspond to to the popped notes we’ll be playing at the 4th fret of the Eb string. Furthermore you’ll notice that within each cycle the snare pattern can be compartmentalised into 4 groupings with a gap in between each – first it hits twice, then once, then twice again, then finally three times before the cycle repeats. To add complication, the gap after the single accent is one 16th note shorter than the gap between the other groups, which disrupts the slap and pop pattern that your hands will settle into.
It would probably help to listen through the section a few times and see if you can clap on the snare accents before attempting to move it on to the instrument.
The same rhythm is present at letter C, which crops up a few times in the track though the context does vary. Letter E is a variation involving hammer-ons at the 12th fret;. at letter F the hammer-on technique is preserved but the 8-bar figure is halved in length, and I use a combination of slapping and dead notes for a more staccato delivery.
The riff at letter B features some string skipping and big slides up into the upper frets. It may take some practice to consistently hit your target notes. Note the use of dead notes to increase the sense of syncopation, and the section finishes up with another tapping lick that utilises open strings juxtaposed against an augmented arpeggio described by the fretted notes for a dissonant effect.
The very last few bars [letter G] feature an interesting rhythmic device that gives the impression of deceleration when it in fact the tempo remains the same throughout. Particularly confusing is the metric displacement in the drum part at the start of bar 96, where Matt [Halpern] accents the second note of the bar and starts a backbeat groove as though that were the downbeat – this leads the listener to think the an odd-time bar has been inserted. The “rhythmic illusion” is heightened by the note movement in the bass and guitar parts, and it takes some effort not to be fooled by the resulting effect!
I hope you have found something of interest here. Have fun playing the song!
I’m providing three different formats here. Choose the one that works best for you: