The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Iron Maiden
Album: Powerslave (1984)
Bassist: Steve Harris
Rime of the Ancient Mariner is one of Iron Maiden’s most popular and well known songs from Powerslave. The track was written by Steve Harris and runs just short of 14 minutes and is based on a poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge written in 1798. The success and popularity of Mariner led it to becoming a important part of the live show, and was a crowd favorite during the World Slavery Tour.
The song is made up of several different themes but is still loosely based around similar chord changes in E minor. It also features an extended half time bridge and has multiple instrumental breaks and guitar solos. The technique to get Steve Harris’s sound and feel is power. The bass is a classic P-bass tone with plenty of high end to give the bass a click. This helps it lock in with the drums in the double time galloping sections that Maiden is so famous for.
Riff 1 begins at the very start of the song. There are multiple tempo changes throughout, the song however start on a nice bouncy 114bpm. The accents in bar 2 and 4 should lock in tightly with the drums.
Riff 2 is an instrumental section that is the second riff after the first tempo change, the song is now moving along in triplets at 162bpm. It is important to fret the first note of each 6 note pattern with the flat of your index so you can roll the tip of your finger back down onto the 4th below. This is the same technique you should apply whenever you want to play fast arpeggios across the strings.
Riff 3 comes directly after the quiet interlude section and is played at 180bpm. This is one of Steve Harris’s classic Iron Maiden bass breaks to get it sounding right it is important to really hit those accented notes on the G string quite hard.
Iron Maiden, Rime of the Ancient Mariner album version
Iron Maiden, Rime of the Ancient Mariner live 1985 – World Slavery Tour