Arpeggio Analysis - Yngwie Malmsteen - Liar

This is a pretty killer lick. It is just before the main solo in Liar by Yngwie Malmsteen. Take a quick listen to the arpeggio section before the solo here:

Yngwie uses the arpeggios:

G#o  G#o  Am  Am 
G#o  G#o  Am  Am 
A∆   Dm   G∆  C∆ 
Bb∆  Am   F∆  E∆ 

And we get the impression that the sequence is split into the following three sections:

Section 1 (x2):  G#o  G#o  Am  Am 
Section 2:       A∆   Dm   G∆  C∆ 
Section 3:       Bb∆  Am   F∆  E∆ 

And it looks like we are in the key of A minor (check out chords from minor keys). Looking at the numerals for the key of A minor we get:

Section 1(x2):    viio   viio   i      i  

Section 2:        I      iv     bVII   bIII

Section 3:        bII    i      bVI    V

So we can see Yngwie is using pretty much all the possibilities for chords from minor keys, including the addition of a Piccardy Third (the I chord at the start of Section 2) and Neapolitan chord (the bII at the start of Section 3).

Combining these slightly more exotic chords together is what creates musical interest in this section.

Another compositional idea that Yngwie uses is, whenever an arpeggio is repeated, for example the G#o and A- at the start, he never plays the same inversion a second time, he moves into the next inversion.

Looking at Section 1, he doesn’t play the three string diminished arpeggio in the same place twice, he plays it once and then runs straight into the next inversion on the neck.

Something I was a little guilty of on my album , was using the same arpeggio inversion several times in a row.

If you do choose to do this, you can create musical interest by adding notes to the arpeggio (so you don’t have a straight set of chord tones in the arpeggio), or changing the rhythm of the arpeggio so it is not a straight set of 16ths, triplets etc.

The last thing to notice, is that Yngwie ends on a E∆ arpeggio, which is the V chord; before moving to an A note. This creates a perfect cadence, creating an complete feel to the sequence.

This is the sweep picked arpeggio section that we are looking at. The chords are on top of the arpeggios

So a quick list of key take-aways from this excerpt:

  1. A sweep picking prelude is a killer way to introduce a solo
  2. Great use of chords/arpeggios from a minor key
  3. Never play the same arpeggio inversion more than once
  4. A perfect cadence “finishes off” a section nicely.

Boom - done.