ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Al Di Meola's Guitar Solo From Sorceress

Updated on February 10, 2016
Al Di Meola
Al Di Meola | Source

Chick Corea's (Fusion) Guitarist Collaborators

All these guitarists are great but who do you dig the most? (Note: there is no such thing as 'the best' guitarist!)

See results

Why this Al Di Meola solo?

Al Di Meola is renowned for his virtuoso guitar performances, which often feature blisteringly fast, immaculate lines using a full picking technique. (In contrast to Chick Corea's most recent guitar collaborator, Frank Gambale, who is famous for 'the sweep'.) However, the reason I wanted to analyse this is because of its simplicity. For whatever reason, Al apparently chose to lay back for this one. Maybe the boys had just completed the take for 'The Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant' and he felt he needed a rest. Or perhaps he wanted to contrast with Chick's complex piano solo on Sorceress?

I was surprised to find that there was, apparently, no pre-existing You Tube video analysing this solo. But maybe I should not have been, as this is not one of the usual suspects. For instance, you will find more than one guitar lesson for solos from Smoke On The Water, Alright Now, Paranoid, Sunshine Of Your Love (for which I have written a separate hub on the rhythm guitar) et al. Probably Sorceress is simply not on the radar. Reminds me of the time I lent a Colosseum II album to a Gary Moore fan and he returned it to me very quickly!

It was apparent on listening to this solo that it is an object lesson on the use of the minor pentatonic scale. Immaculately done, full of slides, hammers, pull-offs and bends, utilising four pentatonic postions or blocks, and packed with feeling. He sure can play the blues.

The purpose of this hub is to back-up my You Tube video shown below and my Video Score at for which click here. In this hub I provide detail using the fretboard diagram. Those who don't read notation or who are more used to tablature may particularly find this helpful.

The legend (I mean the symbols, not Al)


I believe the legend requires little explanation for guitarists. I can add a detailed decription of P, H, S, B and R should should anyone ask for it. I have put these between the appropriate notes where required. Sometimes I have used full notation and at other times a grace note, depending on what seemed the most appropriate.

As well as S, / and \ are used for slides where these fall outside notation.

To Start

Sorceress is mainly in 4/4 time, but switches to 6/4 for Al's solo. On listening, the change may not be immediately obvious but it's there. More of an issue for Stanley Clarke on bass and Lenny White on drums to think about, while Al Di Meola can riff. The clef is treble, and standard one octave lower for guitar but returns to normal at the 10th bar so that the notes don't go off into the ether. The key is B flat minor and looks a bit daunting, but please don't be put off. You can think in terms of the minor pentatonic positions or blocks. I'll refer to those as I proceed.

Bars 1-3

Here is the notation for the first figure:

Bars 1-3
Bars 1-3

At first the solo is concentrated on the first and second minor pentatonic positions. I have marked out the notes for these positions and highlighted the ones to be used.

So, I'm pulling off from Db to Bb, 4th to 1st finger, then hammering back to Db which is sustained with vibrato, then an Eb followed with a casual downward glissando or slide.

Slide from Ab to Bb with the 1st finger, two pull-offs from Db to Bb, then pick Ab to Bb, 1st to 3rd finger.

Bars 3-4

Next I'm sliding quickly (grace note) from Eb to F with my 3rd finger, then my 2nd on the Ab, then my 1st on Eb. Sustain with vibrato. Then bend the Db up one tone with the 1st and hammer on the Bb with the 3rd. This last note is barely perceptible on the recording, almost a ghost note.

Bar 5

From the previous figure you are now placed to slide (grace note) from Eb to F with the 3rd finger, then play Ab with the 1st or 2nd finger, then play Ab again then hammer (grace note) on to Bb, 1st to 3rd finger. Sustain with vibrato. Then Db, then hammer on Bb, then bend Eb by one tone (to F).

Bar 6 to 7

Starting on the 3rd finger, Bb to Db to Eb bent up one tone (to F) four times, then after the forth bend release to Eb, then play Db back to Eb - sustain with vibrato, then a quick Db to Bb.

Bars 7 to 9

Now, here's a long sequence. We'll break it down into two segments.

So it's picking all the way in bar 7, keeping the fingers in the same position: Ab-Bb-Db-Bb-Db-Db-Bb-Ab-Bb-Bb.

For the next part, bars 8 to 9, bend Ab one tone (to Bb) with the 1st finger and with vibrato, then a short Ab, then a sustained F, 2nd finger, with vibrato. A grace slide from Eb to F with the 3rd finger, then Ab, 2nd finger, while holding down the F, and back to F while holding down the Ab. Continue with a grace slide from Eb to Db with the 1st finger, pick and bend Db one tone (to Eb), then Bb.

Bars 9 to 10

Hot on the heels of the previous figure, grace slide from (the low) Eb to F with the 3rd finger, then Ab with the 2nd. Grace slide from Ab to Bb with the 3rd finger, then Db with the 1st, then grace slide from the high Eb to F with the 3rd and apply vibrato. Then pick (the high) F three times, and keep that vibrato going. Al's ratcheting up the tension now.

Note: on the stave the clef changes in the middle of the figure to an octave higher, ie you do not return to the low F.

Bars 10 to 11

So, here's another longer figure. We'll break it down into two parts again.

So now we've manouvered up to the 4th position or block. Your 3rd finger is already on the F and you grace slide it to the Ab, then F again, then pull-off from Ab to F twice. Then two bends on the Ab (to Bb), the last with vibrato.

Now you'll see that I've changed the position to Fmi pentatonic in the first position. This is where Al Di goes in the next bit. I think this is because, although a solo In Bbmi, the chord riff is Bbmi to Fmi. Or it could be that he's just choosing it for variation - the Fmi pent still fits Bbmi.

Anyway, from bending the Ab in the previous figure, you continue holding it into bar 12, then a slow release glancing over the unbent Ab, then play down the scale from the F to the low Ab. Then back-up the scale Ab to Bb, then Db to Eb.

Bars 13-14

Now the final straight. We're staying with the Fmi pentatonic for this, in 1st and 2nd positions. Bend the Bb up one tone (to C). Release the bend back to Bb, pull-off to Ab, slide down to F. Then bend the Ab one tone (to Bb), release the bend back to Ab, pull-off to F, then pick the Eb twice, sustaining the last note with vibrato. Finish with a casual slide down the fretboard. At that point the song segues back into 4/4 time.

Well, I think that just about wraps it up. In conjunction with my You Tube video and Video Score, I hope that this will assist you with the solo. As I said, I think this is a great solo for studying the minor pentatonic.

Now there follows a short quiz, which, like the survey at the top of the hub, is just a bit of fun!


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)