1. #1
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    243

    BackTrack Spotlight: "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple



    Each week we showcase an existing song from our extensive Rocksmith song library on the weekly Twitch stream, in addition to the current week's offerings. We’ll announce the BackTrack here each Wednesday and offer some thoughts about the featured song.

    This week's BackTrack Spotlight comes from notetracker Greg Barr.

    Deep Purple -- "Smoke on the Water"
    Originally released as RS1 DLC on November 15, 2011
    Guitar notetracked by Matt Montgomery
    Bass notetracked by Jarred McAdams
    All arrangements in E Standard Tuning



    It’s hard to imagine a time before every beginning guitarist’s first and highest aspiration was to learn the opening riff from Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.” It’s widely considered one of the greatest guitar riffs of all time, and with good reason. To better understand the riff and what makes it so appealing, let’s break it down in three ways: melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically.

    The entire song -- and this riff in particular -- revolves around the G blues scale. A blues scale contains six notes and is a variation of the minor pentatonic scale, which contains five notes and is arguably the most common scale in all of rock music, especially in guitar solos. Relative to the major (Ionian) scale, the minor pentatonic scale contains these notes:

    1, b3, 4, 5, b7

    The blues scale is created by adding just one more note between the 4th and 5th degrees, usually employed as a passing tone or neighbor tone, and often referred to as the “blue note.” Scale degree wise, the note is a #4 (or b5). Adding in the blue note, we get the blues scale proper:

    1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7

    Or, to place this in our key of G minor:

    G, Bb, C, Db, D, F

    This is the scale that forms the basis of the “Smoke on the Water” riff, with particular emphasis on that blue note.

    One common misconception is that this riff is harmonized in 5ths – also known as traditional Rock’n’Roll power chords – while in actuality it is played in 4ths. The open strings of a standard tuned guitar are naturally built in 4ths, with the exception of the 2nd and 3rd strings. In particular, the D and G strings are a perfect fourth away from each other (D, E, F, G) or (1, 2, 3, 4), so notes on these two strings at the same fret will also be a perfect fourth away from one another.

    The riff is also rhythmically interesting, using syncopation to shift the timing of the theme within a couple measures. The first three notes just go right up the scale, right on the beats. The second time, however, we get the same pitches, but now they happen on the upbeats. The space between the first three notes in each pattern remains the same -- the pattern is just shifted from strong beats to offbeats. At the end of this second phrase, the blue note is inserted to allow this second phrase to end on a strong beat. Then the first phrase is repeated again, before descending back to the home base of G.

    It seems almost too simple to work. According to Deep Purple’s guitarist Richie Blackmore, many friends of the band were not fans of the riff at the time of its release because they thought it was just too basic. But that simplicity is exactly what makes it work. It packs so much harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic interest into such a short space that it sinks its hooks into you before you even know what’s going on.
    Share this post

  2. #2
    Steamroller52's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    1,363
    Nice, heard this on the radio the other day and reminded me I haven't played it in a long time. Fun song.
    Share this post

  3. #3
    toymachinesh's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Toronto, ON
    Posts
    8,131
    Why did Matt Montgomery chart the wrong solo (I kid)
    Share this post

  4. #4
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    243
    Originally Posted by toymachinesh Go to original post
    Why did Matt Montgomery chart the wrong solo (I kid)
    Yes, the solo that appears in the game is different from the one a lot of people know. I've heard it said that this was a re-record, but in fact this was an alternate solo recorded by Ritchie Blackmore during the original Machine Head sessions. They used the alternate solo when the record was re-released on CD in 1997 in a 25th anniversary edition, and that's the version that appears in Rocksmith.
    Share this post

  5. #5
    SeattleSauve's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    North Vancouver
    Posts
    6,376
    I really like the classic solo better than the alternate solo. I'm wondering why Blackmore likes this one better.
    Share this post

  6. #6
    TomKQT's Avatar Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Czech Republic
    Posts
    206
    Ouch, I misuderstood this "BackTrack" thing, I thought it meant that you re-release some of the older Rocksmith songs for Rocksmith 2014, possibly with some improvements (something what Rocksmith didn't support etc.). I was so happy to see Smoke on the Water, thinking I would finaly be able to buy it.
    (There's still the problem that I cannot buy DLC for the original game on Steam, if I "only" have Rocksmith 2014.)
    Share this post

  7. #7
    JarredMcAdams's Avatar Ubisoft SF Game Designer
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    243
    Originally Posted by TomKQT Go to original post
    Ouch, I misuderstood this "BackTrack" thing, I thought it meant that you re-release some of the older Rocksmith songs for Rocksmith 2014, possibly with some improvements (something what Rocksmith didn't support etc.). I was so happy to see Smoke on the Water, thinking I would finaly be able to buy it.
    (There's still the problem that I cannot buy DLC for the original game on Steam, if I "only" have Rocksmith 2014.)
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. All of the Rocksmith 1 songs were in fact updated to be compatible with the new features introduced in Rocksmith 2014 (bends, slides, fret-hand mutes, vibrato, etc.). So that's good news.

    Unfortunately, Steam requires users to own the core game associated with any piece of DLC in order to purchase that item. We have asked them to remove this restriction for RS2014 users. They have removed it for some, but not all RS1 DLC. We're continuing to work with them, but there hasn't been any movement recently.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.
    Share this post