Scarified – Racer X

Scarified appears on Racer X’s 1987 album, Second Heat.


The tune is an instrumental which is divided into several sections,

0:00 – 0:06 – Drum intro – 4-bars

0:06 – 0:33 – Intro – 8-bars repeated twice (16-bars total)

0:33 – 0:40 – Arpeggio section – 4-bars

0:40 – 0:57 – Cycle of 5ths section: 10-bars

0:57 – 1:00 – 2-bar tapping fill

1:00 – 1:14 – Intro, played once (8-bars)

1:14 – 1:21 – Arpeggio section – 4-bars

1:21 – 1:38 – Cycle of 5ths section: 10-bars

1:38 – 2:14 – Guitar solos: 23-bars

2:14 – 2:22 – Partial intro repeat – 4-bars

2:22 – 2:38 – Outro: 10-bars.


Because this tune contains two guitarists the guitar parts are either played in unison or doubled in thirds and fourths; this does not apply to the guitar solos, however. The bass part also often doubles the guitar parts but sounds an octave lower.

After the drum intro the guitars and bass enter playing sixteenth notes in unison and at the octave. The 8 bars of the intro is divided into four 2-bar phrases.

Scarified intro

The 2-bar phrases include one bar, which essentially repeats the F notes, and a second bar which either contains ascending or descending F natural minor scale runs. The use of triplets in these bars adds forward impetus towards the following bar, and also breaks the sixteenth note rhythm.

During the arpeggio section, which follows after the intro is repeated, the guitars play harmonised arpeggios which outline the progression, D flat major seventh – B flat nine – E flat major – E diminished seventh – F minor, or, VI7  – IV9  – VII – vii7 – i, in the key of F minor. The chordal extensions are created by the combination of notes played by the two guitars. All of the chords and their extensions are diatonic to F minor – using the F melodic minor scale.

Arp chords Fm

Under these chords the bassline plays an ascending chromatic line rising: D flat – D – E flat – E – F. Because of this, the B flat nine chord is in first inversion.

arps section

The use of a chromatic bassline which rises from the submediant, or dominant, up to the tonic is very common in many styles of music, such as Classical. It is effective because the rising chromaticism propels the chords towards the tonic, also, the last four chords have a ‘secondary’ relationship between the two pairs.

2ndary rela

Here, the B flat nine chord can be heard as V of E flat major and the E diminished seventh chord can be heard as V of F minor – by adding a note a major third below the root of a diminished seventh chord a dominant minor ninth chord is created.

Following the arpeggio section is a 10-bar section which uses fifth relationships based on the circle of 5ths. This section uses two basic forms of harmonised arpeggios. The first follows this melodic shape

Harmonised arp Cycle of 5ths

while the second uses this melodic shape.

First arp shape cycle of 5ths

Each melodic shape is moved around to follow diatonic harmony based on a cycle of 5ths. The cycle begins on an F minor chord and proceeds,  B flat minor – E flat major – A flat major – D flat major – G minor seventh flat five – C major – F minor – C major – F minor.

Cycle of 5ths

Notice how the bass guitar changes from root position to first inversion before moving onto the root note of the following chord. This type of movement ‘smooths’ out the bassline and creates better voice leading.

Both guitars take their arpeggios from the following minor and major chord shapes,

Chord shapes for arps

one guitar begins the arpeggio on the fifth of the chord while the other begins on the third. Notice also that the notes which are not part of the arpeggio follow the keys of the relevant chords: the G flat upper neighbour note in the B flat minor bar belongs to the key of B flat minor/D flat major while the D natural in the E flat major bar belongs to E flat major; also the leading notes are raised for the minor chords.

Melodically, the same arpeggio shapes are used sequentially to follow the cycle of 5ths progression, but another technique is also employed which allows the slight variation in the arpeggio shapes (discussed earlier) while still following the underlying progression.

If we look at the bass and the top guitar’s line we see that the intervals between these two instruments forms a pattern (all compound intervals are written as they would appear within an octave)

4bars LIP

this is called a Linear Intervallic Pattern and it is used through six bars of the 10-bar cycle of 5ths progression.


Even in this reduced analytical diagram it can be seen that the linear intervallic pattern allows some melodic variation to be used – as long as the intervallic pattern is maintained between the highest and lowest instruments, the melodic outline can change.

Linear intervallic patterns are often found in classical music and can be used to connect two statements of the same harmony or, they can move between one harmony and another. In Scarified, the linear intervallic pattern moves between the tonic and dominant harmonies in F minor. When the cycle of 5ths lands on the C major chord, dominant harmony, the bass plays a dominant pedal for three and a half bars which leads to the 2-bar tapping fill beginning at 0:57.

The 2-bar tapping fill is played in unison by the two guitars and the bass sounding two octaves below. It is essentially made up of a repeated sixteenth-note triplet figure which begins on notes which again follow a cycle of 5ths, this time beginning on G.

Cycle of 5ths tapping

As you can see, the 2-bar tapping fill ends on the dominant of F minor (C) which leads the piece back to the intro rill. The work is then repeated from the beginning, with the intro this time being played only once.

During the repeat, the cycle of 5ths progression uses the same 8 bars from the first play through but then moves from the Fm/C bar to a D major and then a Gm chord. These two chords are played over a D pedal which, when combined with the D major and G minor chords, effects a modulation, up a tone, into the key of G minor. This modulation is reinforced by a 3/4 bar containing a V – vii – i progression in G minor. In this context the modulation was made simply by moving the same arpeggio shapes to different chords, it was then confirmed by a further cadence in the new key.

After the 3/4 bar 4/4 is restored to begin the guitar solos at 1:38.

Both guitarists take turns to solo for the first 16 bars of the solo section before coming together for a repeated riff which they harmonise in thirds (2:05). The solo concludes with a blistering run which climaxes on a bend up to a G.

The guitarists essentially use the G natural minor scale and the G minor pentatonic scale throughout the solos. Rather than soloing aimlessly, however, their solos appear to follow two approaches: the first is to use the G minor scales to generate ideas and licks which work because they belong to the overall key, while the second approach is to follow the underlying chord progressions more closely by highlighting notes from these chords and building the solo around arpeggio shapes.

In the following example, from the beginning of the solo section, the solo begins with a sustained A note which, when played over the E flat major chord, creates a Lydian, eleventh sound. After this, the guitarist’s line is essentially constructed around the notes of the E flat major arpeggio before coming to rest on another A note: the third of F major.


Over the G minor chord, the G natural minor scale is used, here the line is built around the Em CAGED shape. The bend at the beginning of the G minor bar is up to the fifth of this chord and, aside from the sustained A note over E flat major, all of the bent or sustained notes from this excerpt use notes from the underlying chords. This type of soloing helps to create cohesion between the harmonic and melodic elements while the use of triplets throughout the solo helps to connect the solo rhythmically to the other sections of the work.

As mentioned earlier, a bend up to a G note ends the solo section, after which, four bars of the intro return at 2:14. Because the keys of F minor and G minor lie a tone away from each other, it is easy to shift between the two to bring about a return to the original key of F minor.

At 2:22 begins the outro which lasts for 10 bars. These bars are broken into five 2-bar phrases which arpeggiate the chord progression, A flat major seventh – F sharp diminished seventh – G minor ninth – E diminished seventh – F minor, or, IIImaj7  – (vii7 ) – ii9  – vii7  – i, in F minor. The arpeggio shapes of these bars resemble the shapes from the cycle of 5ths section,

outro arps

there is no linear intervallic progression in these bars, however, they are built instead around a decorated descent to the tonic chord


The rising line after the tonic is a final ascent which comes to rest on the notes C and E flat. This line could suggest the dominant or an extended tonic chord: F minor seventh.

Techniques and concepts used in Scarified:

  • Harmonised arpeggios
  • Chromatic ascent
  • Secondary chords
  • Cycle of 5ths
  • Chordal decoration using notes from relevant key
  • Linear Intervallic Pattern
  • Modulation
  • Pedal
  • Approaches to soloing
  • Descending progression