“Metropolis Part I (The Dreamer and the Sleeper)” was written by Dream Theater and is one of their more challenging songs to play. The band I used to be in covered this with me on bass, and the guitarist noted that he’s heard others cover it to a point – stopping just before the difficult instrumental section kicks in.
I am starting with the difficult section and continuing right up until James Labrie starts/ends and resumes singing (not exactly my favorite singer), so it’s overall shorter than the regular version and has all the good stuff.
Below is my cover of Dream Theater’s song, “Erotomania,” featuring the otherworldly John Petrucci on guitar (it really is a guitar anthem – the playing is unreal). Super song to jam, one of their easier instrumentals that is a ton of fun to play. The keyboards gets a break in this one – it’s the guitar that really shines.
“Instrumedley” is a mash-up of Dream Theater’s most challenging music, ramped up to insane speeds and nearly impossible to play. I already knew most of the material in the song (“Dance of Eternity,” “Erotomania,” “Metropolis Part I,” Ytse Jam” and figured it would be a cake walk).
The section I didn’t know (the INSANE “Change of Seasons” section) proved to be almost impossible to play, and the parts I knew were so fast I couldn’t play them, either. At first. I spent three months getting it under my fingers and now it is part of my routine. I hope you like it!
One of the Dream theater songs my last band and I covered was “The Dance of Eternity,” from their “Scenes from a Memory.” It is difficult to play, and includes (IMO) one of their hardest riffs to play, period (OK – there are actually about two dozen that are murder). This song has something like 106 times changes – and it’s 6 minutes long. Do the math.
Plus it has a bass solo that comes after a marathon of 16th notes. I have never developed a good three finger plucking technique. Instead, I thought about the way that a guitar shredder is able to do what they do with their right hand – it’s just a back and forth motion with the pick (of course there’s far more to it than that, but that’s basically it).
I don’t play with a pick and never could, so I learned how to pluck very fast back and forth with my index and middle fingers on my plucking hand, simulating what pick-wielding shredders do for very fast parts. without missing a beat I can trade off fingers if one digit gets tired, but it can be hard to control the dynamics and it’s very easy to run ahead of the beat. But it works, and I use it in the solo of “Dance of Eternity” (I also use it in the “Change of Seasons” section of “Instrumedley” (above).
Next is my bass cover of Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Universal Mind,” from their first album. Liquid Tension Experiment (LTE for sanities sake) began as an idea Mike Portnoy had to jam with musicians he really admired (imagine that 20 years later). As things turned out, it was Dream Theater minus John Myung, with Tony Levin on board. Oh, and no James LaBrie.
Another incredible song from LTE’s debut release, “Paradigm Shift,” was one I had to play. IT’s got a great opening riff with Petrucci and Portnoy lighting it up, an amazing middle section and the last riff is MURDER to play.
I recorded this in about 40 takes, which was really annoying over goofy mistakes (that’s a G not a D! ARGH!) Stuff like that. I was so glad to get all the way through it and nail the last riff that I couldn’t wait to publish it. It’s one of the best LTE songs there is – I hope you enjoy it!
It has been awhile since I uploaded a new cover but here it is – Dream Theater’s “Pull Me Under.” Here I am playing my fretless bass (bc JM plays a fretless in it), and I am using my PK-5A bass pedals and JV1010 synth for a really deep drone note in places. Here it is!
Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Acid Rain” is a complete mad rush from beginning to end – like a marathon run at full speed the whole way. I spent 3 weeks getting it under my fingers and learning most of it by ear, because I can’t watch Tony Levin play it and figure stuff out (he plays a Chapman Stick in the song, and I know why – tapping is MUCH easier than finger plucking at that speed), so I could not work out any notes by watching him play it, and the tab was, half of the time, completely wrong. It also took a lot of time to get it at 100% speed without running out of steam or getting sloppy. I resolved to make this one of my best, so what you will see here is the 8th take, and you can see a point where I secretly lube up my fingertips midway through the song to make it to the finish line. Enough of my gabbing, here is Liquid Tension Experiment’s “Acid Rain” from the studio version (the live in 2008 version is too fast and too long!)