Chord Progression Exercises


Composing Metal Melodies and Harmonies


Lesson Info

Chord Progression Exercises

With that move forward to some core progression exercises so this is for if you're starting with a chord progression so I just picked another court progression here um most of the stuff I pick is somewhat random for this but you can see I've got easy keys up which you should all by um gonna pick a minor be diminished g a minor that's it um you can see when you're in this year training exercises metal sound guy was asking you may just want to focus on the notes or is this a point where you could start working in some articulation is a segment out beginning to that but yeah, at some point you do want to start working on articulations and stuff like that, but I think I think again this is more like training wheels than actual song refinement so uh if you want to work on certain types of articulations, I would start building exercises around those types of articulations um but I would always start simple. I think starting simple is the thing that lots of guys fail at these days start simpl...

e work, the basics and the more complicated stuff will start to come naturally. Strangely enough, I don't know why that works but it does um for instance, last summer on guitar I had to I had to mimic a pretty famous guitar player for this song ready the thing I had to totally take on this guy style which was nothing like my style but I had to do it anyways and some of the stuff that he plays is lightning fast but all of its pretty being a pentatonic base and I never really worked on pentatonic so instead of focusing on the lightning fast stuff which I figured would just come naturally because I can play fast and I want to um I worked on basic pentatonic scales on the guitar um oppositions all keys oh all everything with blues note or without the blues note and what happened there is the more I drilled the basics the better the advanced stuff god s o I think that that you should always be working basics on dh the the advanced stuff will come as a product of your taste almost some with that we don't have anything else I keep going on this core progression thing so ok so you pick a key pick a chord progression in the key and then you write a short melody that's got five notes in it is you can see and here's the rule is you keep the first notes in the melody within the court tones all right yes you what I'm doing there I'll show you on the piano roll okay so c d check out the chords has the cnn next chord also had these all come from the court tones ah ah what I'm doing is I'm just showing you guys appear of that the melody right here about the harmony I picked the strong notes to be right out of the cores and that's that's what you got to do you get your progression step one step two pick your five notes make sure that they are within the chords themselves at first and then writes something really simple now to add tension in there what I did was go from accord tone to a non core tone before resolving into another court check it out so first note is a core tone second note is outside the court third note is inside of the next court so you start in a place of resolution add some tension by going outside of the court resolve it by going back into accord but then on the next one to note within the court it's a note outside of the cord and it finally ends with a note inside the next court the big takeaway is that you want to be limiting the amount of notes that you're working with and you want to be having the strong notes be within the cords that are happening in the harmony and you want the passing notes those secondary notes the tension notes to be outside of the court's um and real quick I'll just give you guys an example what this would sound like if I put the all the melody notes within the cords so attention no I'm going to move all the tension notes tio cord tones it's not bad but it's not nearly as cool and that's because it's all resolved the whole time again sound to it doesn't have a lot of personality it seems in that yeah because when you changed it when you add tension in there it basically it sucks you in to where you're going next what is all resolved is more just like his blank meandering in my opinion uh play here's the original version with attention notes and uh you listen to really famous songs like so yesterday uh that that really, really famous melody that I'm not going to sing or that I didn't sequence either that I'm not actually using in this class that really really famous melody you guys should all know by heart um is uh is exactly that technique it's uh second major or minor second outside of the court own into the cord and with every pass every two notes it goes outside inside outside inside outside inside that's basically how yesterday works and that's why it's such a such a great memorable melody but he's using this technique the whole time um that and that really helps it uh get set apart now one thing if you just want to hear the difference, try sequencing the melody to yesterday without the non court tones and see what happens I can't do this for for, you know, legal reasons I guess but I do feel like that's necessary information for people exercise really that that's a great song tow that set capsule out of the way you're you're talking about getting your cords and understanding the courts it's for the purpose of getting those tension notes in addition to the resolution notes just the same because you can know what's inside and outside of your box essentially right absolutely it melodies good melodies aren't often all inside the box of your court tones it's usually uh court tones mixed in with non court tones and very specific spots and that's hard for some people to really here so it's good to do these is to analyze what's going on uh you know beatle stuff is great it's almost like a modern modern theory bible in my opinion you could learn any one of their songs and come come away musically smarter so as to take this a step further you want tio ad harmonies in so we've got this melody that I wrote where there's uh where there's resolution tension resolution resolution tension resolution all out of the key I mean all within the key and we have this exercise I did earlier where I started adding harmonies like third or fourth or six so do the same thing take the melody and add some thirds basically all I did there, every single one of those notes is within the key every court is within the key going and that's happening is that these second cords are you are outside but of the court that's actually being playing that is still within the key. Now these types of exercises really do lend themselves two other other instruments like you can do this with guitar too, and I'll show you what I mean I'm going to show you this is another concept that I want you guys tio kind of latch onto, which is just because you harmony is technically right doesn't mean it's the right thing for the song so you do need to learn a few of these and be willing to change things sometimes you may think you want a harmony and thirds, but then when you put it on there just doesn't quite work, so check it out um I'm gonna play a riff and then a stupid melody I wrote over it and then I took it through a few different variations to find what I like best, but I started with thirds and, uh, I don't like it things got jumbled we'll fix this uh, anyone have any questions um, wondering if you have any guidelines for key selection from music based around specific instruments? Yes, I do if you're writing for a vocalist find out what his ranges and right within that that's super important most people don't do that which blows my mind I don't understand why someone wouldn't do that but yeah that's a biggie and every instrument has arranged in which they sound best and if you're writing for an instrument or a certain type arrangement, you need to keep that stuff in mind or even fall flat on your face so what I would do is I would do I would do the research as to uh and it do this research with your ears as muchas reading but find out what the strong points of each instrument is like for instance on a violin you're not going to play high parts on the lowest string and expected to sound like a full rich no it just doesn't work that way uh and same thing with a guitar if you're on your lowest string and you're playing up the twenty second fret you sound like garbage and you should just know that um and the more that kind of stuff you know the better off you're gonna be anything else? Well, they're dragon was actually saying he thinks it's the tension is a really hard thing for a lot of people to grass and he just has a few friends you can't really understand how to do it or or essentially how it comes out but I mean through your training is this pretty much you saying as long as you spend the time doing this you will start to find through you know, error and what works and something that just you just understand like I wonder what his friends have done to try to understand it better it's not just a concept that you magically get and listen the songs and listen for it but usually there's a really simple way to define it which is notes outside of the core that are being played or more dissonant cords more dissonant notes choppier stuff odd time signatures just like anything that takes you away from feeling very stable is tension and that's all it is it's nothing something crazy uh just you know if you have route third fifth cords and uh you start sliding something in their or your scharping something make it augmented or diminished or whatever that adds tension is just simple little things like that um like for instance a good way to listen for that is listen to the way that versus get ended to go into pre courses of course this or the key changes from versus into pre choruses and then into choruses usually they'll put the tension chords or nose at the very end of the first very end of the pre chorus and then let it resolve with with the course and I'll play it as an example from use that grab that has that going actually the key is ultimately just mohr here training and never stop learning essentially is the take away from the process yeah never stopped listening all right, check it out real quick and what is hard to hear about how that's tension and release its building building building a totally different register for the vocals between the pre chorus in the chorus and totally different arrangement the guitars are playing uh you know, choppy pa muted stuff there's a buildup going and then suddenly everything is wide open and just going for it I mean that's that's a perfect example of tension and release and it doesn't take knowing advanced theory to be able to hear that you just need to know what it is that you're listening for uh which doing active listening exercises will help with the more the more of those you do, the better off you'll get in my opinion you see, I got this so that's a rift I wrote harmony over it and I don't like it I think it sounds like crap it's all thirds and they're all right there on the key, so check it out just because they're in the key doesn't mean that they're the right choice basic melody then I added thirds over it on it just sounds to me like the low notes or kind of sour on if all I knew or thirds then I might be screwed right now but since I know more than thirds of figured ok, so part of that school part of that is just dumb sounding, so why don't you have a combination of thirds and fourths and see what happens there and actually kind of like that one? So that would be this listen to separated, you hear that it goes on the lower notes, its forces on the higher notes, it's thirds a supposed all thirds back to back all thirds, and then a combination of thirds forced what I'm hearing is there is that harmony is just hitting that same low note the entire time sustaining on that one note, or is because it seems like it's the way that the melody is resolving it kind of keeps floating on that. Is that the case or my hearing wrong? No, it will the harmony that's actually the note that gets changed when when I decided to do it and fourth but yeah, it goes keeps going back to that low note. And that low note is what sounded sour being harmonised in third's well, the upper notes some fine, I think so. I added the fourth on top of the low note and thirds on top of everything else. I think it sounds smooth now, whereas before it's, like every time it goes to that low note is just like getting us what's that candy that super super sour lemon candy you know about this with that's what that note thanks fio no if I hadn't done all these exercises for a long time I don't know if I would have been his fast that coming up with that came up with it and just a few minutes uh but to me naturally at this point uh I can hear which notes are wrong and which knows the right team me and that's because I've done this a lot and the more you do it the more you do different harmonies thirds for six sevenths whatever octaves better this you'll get and I would run your melodies through a set of different exercises for this so I mean, why not try octaves too? Yeah this is javed room was mentioning there ain't no sweet without the sour I wonder based on that kind of general philosophy if you ever sour notes if they ever are applicable or if it's if it's right or wrong kind of situation in your mind well, if I don't like it it's wrong they're now if I wrote it and I don't like it it's wrong that's that should be there the way that they go about things too but yeah attention attention and release I guess is probably what he means by sweet and sour so I think the key thing is to be deliberate and what you're doing and then talk about that a lot more later with my guests but if you're going tohave sour notes do it on purpose I wouldn't just do it because you don't know how to harmonize something properly or just because you only know one type of harmony and so you're going to supply that across the board and that's it you know this that's what it is that's not the right approach now if you actually like the way that sounds than cool good for you so another thing I tried was actives actually my favorite one I like it better than the third's in before for some reason that one strikes my fancy the most and I wouldn't have figured this out if I wasn't just in the motive experimenting with different things uh try different rhythms and tried it eight notes as well that was kind of cool and then I tried adding some rests in I turned it around actually and then I added some rests and so one thing that you can do like say that your melody is not working out for you um go through these types of exercises of your melody or harming both aren't working uh the best thing you can do is just try as many different options you can harmonize it differently try the melody up a knocked it down and are active at different rhythms into it take notes away you play it backwards whatever just a mess with it enough and you'll find something cool now this is it kind of backwards it's not like it's not reversed, but it goes from this scale stuff to the high note low note at the end close to the original way and I don't necessary like it better the other way but it's just a good thing to be able to do in my opinion now another thing that you guys can do is if a melody just doesn't sound like enough for some reason it's just not cutting it. Try a counter melody um give you guys a good example of that from this is if you guys have seen the movie war er which is not the best movie ever but I heard this in the end credits and it's like, wow, this is really, really cool and it's on that dre did with a non artists and gil moran but there's call in response in a very basic level that delay that she's got on her voice is doing a call in response. So it's the same melody responding to itself but it's the point across I'll let you hear the original. I'll let you hear what I did through active listening wait, I think that because it's cool and it's super simple and it gets the point across now where's the call in response I figured it out on guitar and I played it to the recording so it's not to a click but you have the melody and then you have the melody basically mirrored back, which makes it way cooler and check it out that up a little bit for you guys you want he has a little quiet is easily fixable and pro tools eleven as you can hear this's the original melody and this is the response added, well, you hear it in the original song again now wait, so I think that that makes it ten times more haunting sounding actually so that's something that you can do if you're melody isn't quite hitting home, try doing a call in response or a counter melody like I'm about to show you in this example you listen to what the vocals air doing and then listen to how the guitar comes in and how they work together I'll explain more in a second country, the part with the counter melody is when the synth comes and this it's a guitar synth and starts playing the aarp educated cords and he's singing within those and what he's doing right there is exactly what I just showed you guys earlier by playing outside of the court is just a really cool song as opposed to a crappy example practice example but it's the same idea here he hits a chord tone and he goes outside and then he resolves it to a court tone tone and then it goes outside I think a lot of people's initial instinct would be to double the aarp educated sense with the voice which I think would be the wrong approach and the right approach was to play within the court tones and add tension notes and then resolve it to the court tones and then at attention note again and having interplay between the guitar and the senate any questions from anybody we're doing the comments or stuff people want me to elaborate on well as far as you know, the conversation still going up there but we're not talking about some of the sound critiques which really excited about but then he also threw a coming in a little while ago or a question and then it comes to the song writing course when you're going through your training and you go and you find that top note before you kind of determine the kordell quality is it the inverse when you're actually song writing like do you start with the chords or do you start with a melody? I mean this is subjective kind of how does that vision able to start with both okay, I think you should uh you mean lots of times when you're writing metal you get a drumbeat and a riff first like that usually happens first um usually matters that mean metals usually melodies don't happen first medal but in lots of other styles of music melodies do happen first usually it's a person singing a melody then figuring out courts that go with it on a piano or acoustic guitar and then it gets arranged for a whole band but with metal oftentimes to get the riffs and the drums first and then you add melodies on top of it so it really just depends and I think you should be able to do both that's my own personal opinion on that um we see something real quick maybe uh ask another question while I check this out real quick so I guess some and I'm curious what's the gamut of different kinds of different kinds of situations you end up dealing with I mean, in your studio production do you end up having people come in that have melodies you need to help them fix in the studio or is this something that really comes down to the rehearsal process? Usually when they get to the studio this is all kind of figured out where does that play when your producer on well, it's it's funny that you ask that because we're going to talk about that at length later on as well, but I don't consider anything final until it's released and I think that people who are writing on their own should and consider anything final until it's released, and lots of amateur writers do. They'll get what's called demel itis and not be willing to change anything. But I would always considered a demo to be like the rough draft rough sketch. I mean, you should get as close as you can, but it's. Not really until it's recorded in a format that's going to be released. So, you know, it's. Not so, in my opinion, is not a real song until it's out there in the world.

Class Description

A great melody is one of the most important ingredients in writing a memorable song or piece of music. It’s the melody that catches your attention and stays in your head long after the song is done playing. The best melodies are often very simple to play or sing. Writing them is where the real challenge lies.

Join Eyal Levi (Audiohammer Studios, DAATH) and his guest Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter) for their half-day follow up to Mastering Metal Songwriting. This class, which is the perfect addition to Eyal’s Mastering Metal Songwriting, will cover more songwriting ground – teaching you the basics of melodies, how to write them, place them and evaluate them.. Whether you are an accomplished musician or just starting out, this course will answer all your questions related to composing harmonies and melodies in a metal context.

You'll learn how to construct a melody, how melodies and harmonies interact, call and response, countermelodies, what to do when your melody isn't working, key signature changes, how to create tension and resolution, and more.

If you're ready to take your compositional skills to the next level this is the course for you!


a Creativelive Student

Please give us the keynote pdf file as mentioned! This course is amazing and so inspiring! Thanks a lot!