This dying soul final unison practice diary

Today I’m starting my first practice diary.

The “etude” I’m trying to tackle is one of the many bucketlist solos, the final unison of This dying soul by Dream Theater. I’m not sure how long it will take to beat this beast, but creating this thread will be a good reference point to measure my progress. I spent about 30 minutes on 2 afternoons to memorize the solo, and I decided to set my starting practicing tempo to be 160 bpm. 150 felt too easy, 160 feels more uncomfortable, at least for the second part of the solo.

The target is 192 bpm, which is beyond my maximum comfortable tremolo speed, and the run is pretty long, so loads of stamina is needed. Also, by the time I nail this, upstairs should be nice and clean :smiley:

I created a separate video about the most (in my opinion) challenging part, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to play this clean on any fast tempos or I need to re-arrange the fingering, we’ll see how it sounds once I’m getting closer (if I will get any closer) to the target. It’s also the point where my thumb gets tense, and it’s much harder to play the second half of the solo after that. (it feels much easier when I skip playing this part). I also screwed up the take here but that’s life.

I also find it difficult to play cleanly on those higher frets when the run reaches the 24th fret on the B and the high E string.

The descending final run is also a challenge with the single notes on the lower strings.

The final challenge is the ending, where I need to hit that riff and the power chords on time after the run, it feels like something I need to dedicate some time to practice separately.

I’ll update the topic once I hit a new milestone.


Awesome stuff as always!

I’m sure you’ll get that one too. I’m not in a position to give definite advice (I cannot play the solo part for sure), but just curious since I’m practicing similar stuff right now:

Going from the descending line into the palm mute riff is a super quick snap at these tempos. When you finish the descending run and lock on to the palm mute position, is that position comfortable to play the riff? How relaxed would you say your picking hand is while you transition into the palm mute rhythm? Is there any noticeable tension in your thumb, pick grip strength or arm while you’re doing the palm mutes? Is the form and palm anchoring position good, and the pick angle of attack?

I’m asking because one thing that’s currently helping myself transition more seamlessly from whatever phrase/lick/open chord into a tight palm mute rhythm is by becoming aware of how tense or relaxed my playing is, and how to do the transition while actually being relaxed. It makes it somehow easier to start the palm-muted picking motion.

This may not apply to you or a lot of people in general, but I personally find that it helps when I remind myself to start the palm mute rhythm from a relaxed state. If I don’t do that, I can sometimes play the part, but from a very tense or awkward position and there’s a chance I mess it up anyway. If I can do the transition relaxedly, then I won’t accidentally screw up my hand positioning and get tense when trying very hard to make the riff sound good playing from that awkward position.

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Sounds really good to me, is this at speed? I didn’t hear much DT after 6 degrees (actually train of thought I jammed a good amount, I think it’s on there?)

Nope, it’s at 160 and the target is way faster (192 officially plus the usual Portnoy express in live situations)

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Album tempo is actually 202 FYI.


The journey will take even longer then :slight_smile:

Wow that’s a lot of notes to be played at 192bpm 16ths :open_mouth:

The tempo on the album is 202. Here’s a few bars with a 202 bpm click.

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I make it circa 192bpm.
Edit: not that it makes much difference!

Actually, my metronome tap function is yeilding various lol not to be trusted!

One thing is for sure: I’ll throw the biggest party of my lifetime once I can play this at 202bpm.

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@JBakerman @tommo @Shredd Inspired by my other thread How to get faster, when you are not slow anymore I started butchering fragments of the run at the original tempo, 202 bpm. This is a real world example how I’m practicing stuff nowadays. Yes it sounds awful (not just the audio quality, sorry for not lowering the volume, it’s an extremely noisy take) but I start to get the “feel” of it at this tempo. I couldn’t even play a group of 8 notes last week of this run.

Edit: an other take after 5 mins rest and not touching the guitar. I tried playing this part without stopping. What I can feel now is not that my picking hand becoming tense but my brain is melting to focus on the position shifts and the fretting.


To be honest I would stop using this negative language about your playing!

The last video for example sounded great, comparable to what petrucci would do live or perhaps even better :slight_smile:

EDIT: I understand that maybe it didn’t feel great and that may influence in thinking that it sounded bad. It can help to take a break and examine the footage later with a fresh mind


I’m seriously thinking there must be some psychological factor here, as I really hear that it sounds bad. But at least it didn’t feel tense and my aim is to get more and more comfortable with this tempos.

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I listened to the last clip on my phone and the first impression was good! Not sure if I would find problems by listening more closely by using headphones etc. Also of course it will 99% sound better in a mix.

TLDR I think big picture wise the playing was great, but of course you may be able to find details to correct

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Quick, but genuine question/request. … Do you have anything that you could post that you think is an example of your playing that is good?

Well, I think I can play the Superstitious solo quite well by now.

Hmmm… I’m not convinced by the “quite” well… :rofl: Have you posted this already? If you haven’t, I think it would do you good to post it in show and tell, maybe with some comments or highlight the challenging lines abd show the methods you employed to get it right. You definitely need to look at your playing more positively and I think you would help other players like myself that would love to make the same progress as you have.


I have a video where I’ve tried to play it the second day after learning it in my other thread but I put the link here for you.

It’s a month old so I’m playing it much better now in my opinion, the fast run is clean and I can execute it anytime and I can play it while standing up easily. I’ll do an other recording of that. But that’s not nearly as challenging as the Train of thought stuff.

Nice one.

I think this is the point here. The stuff you are striving to play is like elite shredding in terms of speed and endurance. It is incredibly difficult compared to a lot of stuff, so maybe @tommo’s point is that playing some of this stuff remotely near tempo is no joke and using the negative language is only going to compound the self-doubt and not allow you to hear your playing objectively as you would otherwise. If not already the case, make sure that you have some slightly less challenging stuff in you practice so that you get some level of confirmed/completed acheivement - like you have with the superstitous solo. As someone who is struggling to make any of his goals, those smaller celebrations need to get as much credit as they deserve!

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