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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 22 of 28

Chord Progression Exercise

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

22. Chord Progression Exercise

Lesson Info

Chord Progression Exercise

metal doesn't actually have much room for traditional melodies like saying the Beethoven piece where it goes over a long period time. They're more melodic fragments, um, melodic fragments, little melodic motifs that are used a lot. Um, uh, basically fragments with melodic intent is kind of is a lot more in the language of metal than, say, you know, eight bar melody that starts here and ends eight bars later. Um, you're playing riff based music, so there's a lot of there's a lot of repetition involved, so exercise that you can do with that is, say, you pick a chord pattern. Um, so on this, I picked the same one that we've been using through this whole time. The A minor C major F Major D major. Super simple. And it's the same one from House of the Rising Sun. It's just a good chord progression that I like, um and ah, let me just say that core progression doesn't define a song. You can grab a chord progression from any song. You're not ripping it off. Just a chord progression. There's onl...

y so many chords. They didn't invent those chords in that order. It's Ah, everything, including the melody that, uh, that comes together that defines this song. Um, So anyways, ostinato is short melodic motif that repeats now in the traditional way of doing this, it would be the exact same thing over and over and over again while the cords change. I didn't exactly do that. And this exercise, I changed it up a little bit, but still, the idea is just take it. Take a few courses that you like, or just a few different court colors that you decide on again to determine them in advance. Set your constraints. And inside you're gonna do a short repeating melodic fragments. This is the one I came up with for these four chords. He was, um, And that took exactly 45 seconds. Uh, and one, The songs that we heard yesterday the second song. There was all this kind of stuff happening through different chord changes. And I've seen guys spend again way too long on this kind of stuff to the point where they run out of ideas or they get frustrated because they don't exactly know what they're doing. And if you train your brain to just think in small fragments, um that you'll be much better off. So find a small fragment that works over all the cords and just play it. And did you Soon It's an exercise again. Is this the one I came up with? You can do any number of different ones, but the minute you add this and suddenly this seemingly mundane court progression starts to become more musical and you're that much closer to having a section of a song. Uh, just by doing an exercise. All right, So, uh, one thing that ah will make your songs were interesting, like we've been saying this whole time is, uh, variations on basically everything. And so say that you have a core progression and I have I have basically what was a minor c major? Uh, F major D major. Ah, say that I just I want to build a section out of that. But I want to just do the same thing over and over and over and over again. Um, there's some tricks that you can just do again making exercise out of this stuff, and then you'll do it naturally. So one of the one of the ones that you could do really really simple. Just ah, cords attraction. So one time through, you'll play it, uh, just say, play it one way where I'm going to drop the D major court. So it will be a minor C major F major on the second time and dropped the F major chord. And then it will be a minor C major d major, A simple little change, but basically going from it was that's a simple exercise, but suddenly it sounds like there's a little bit of development in that court progression. I didn't really change anything is the same four chords that it came up with. But by subtracting a different element on every repetition, suddenly it sounds like, uh, like to Lake. I guess a developing core progression it. It's really not. So I would try subtraction and addition exercises and what they're going to say is, and I just keep on busting through these. So I want to get as many of these in It's possible. So basically you guys should be taking notes or by the course or something, cause I think this is ah gonna be going by quicker than you can probably do them. But every one of these exercises, if you do them and commit yourself to them will possibly help you come up with this section that Ah, you know, it helps you make a good song. Hopefully, um, another thing that you could do as an exercise is in addition of accord. That's not in the progression. So, like, uh, say you want just a slightly different sound like on the fourth repetition something that people commonly do just do in addition of a different court. Like one thing that I thought was cool was added G sharp major. So that would sound like this. Nirvana does stuff like that. But if you if you run that through its paces basically playing it the normal way Thank you. Um, you can, ah, one little change, right there basically adds a whole new light to the entire thing. So I would not I wouldn't really dick around too much hunting for perfect cords and, uh, kill yourself or this kind of stuff. I would come over the core progression and just literally tried to subtract and ASM cords where you think that you want stuff to be more or less interesting and just to bring us back to easy keys. This is something that you can do super fast. An easy keys. Show you that real quick. If, say, you're say you're not that quick with the guitar, which some of you aren't, Don't fall. Um, say you're not that quick with knowing your chords on the guitar yet. Just do it here. And, uh, let me actually. So a minor major, what do we say of short range F major? Uh, D Where is that? Sure this is no playing at the same time. Anything else? Uh, come on. What's up? Yes. So that's the original chord progression, but speed up the tempo so that we don't know. We don't fall asleep listening to it. Uh huh. OK, so here we go. Here is a subtraction exercise. So I'm going to make this twice as long. And then what? We said that the first time through f major core, we would subtract the d. I just have the f go twice as long. So there you go a second time. Subtract the f of the deco twice as long. Uh, sure. Why not? Cool. Ontario Court color ship. Maybe the second f do it a different version. Uh uh. You know what? I don't like it anymore, but ah, cool thing about that. Is that easy to change it back Or as if you're at the guitar and you're playing it is kind of like listening to the sound of your own voice. You never really know what it is that you're doing. And if you record, uh, the guitar, it's also you can't just be like I don't like this core progression anymore. Just change it, change it, change it. Um, change this. Change that. So that's a very, very effective use of easy keys is Teoh get the most out of your core progressions exciting. But it's really easy to spit midi once you're done editing in that window, if you want to spit it out onto an actual MIDI track and pro tools to run through some different sounds. Yeah, just drag it. Oh, you drink driving. Drop it after I get right into full right in there. Yeah. Um, is that simple? I don't even know there's an actual I'm sure there is a natural export function, but I've always just dragged it so and actually that's a really good point. Uh, say you're using one of these grooves or something. Uh, it's highly likely that if you're using the group A group or whatever, there's one little thing you like about it. But it's not like you want that actual performance of, like, mambo pre chorus 1 11 ppm. You know, like Funk 1 14 like it's not. You probably don't want that excite performances. Probably one little thing in there that you like. So, yeah, uh, the one thing about this is that this is not a MIDI editor. So if you do want to edit the middle, you need to bring it into your browser. Or so the way that I would do this is I would make sure that you're straight with her chord progression first. Then take it out to your browser and do whatever you want to it. Also, because this is not a MIDI editor, like, if you want to add an ostinato pattern or a little melodic motif, you're not able to do it. So this is This is, in my opinion, strictly for chord progressions, which is hard to do. I think it's hard to get good at in metal, assume this, uh, get you hell of a lot closer to there and let me, uh last thing I want to go over before we run out of time is a quick a quick little thing that you can do Teoh get quicker at writing melodies, and, um, we we ran out of time yesterday. We were going to go through vocal melodies and harmonies and, uh, obviously don't have enough time to really get into melodies now, either. So we're going to do a follow up on this in July where we do four hours. Basically super intense melody work, but for people that just want to get started and can't write a melody to save their life, Um, I think that is the same principle is all these other exercises applies, which is start with some tiny idea and go from there. And, uh, don't don't, uh, don't try too hard to come up with something great. Just try to come up with something that gets your brain going. So, um, I would do it. A simple a simple is this? Um get this keynote. Thank you. Guys were ahead of me on it. Um, se, you have Ah, this looks like an old keynote with different, some different chords. But that doesn't matter. Um, the concept the same. So, uh, say you have four chord progression and, uh, you don't know what to write over it. Um, I guess you could dick around for a while, but one of the things that lots of amateur dudes do or do, they're not that good. Do when they play guitar is start to, um they resort to this scale knowledge, which is not that good, because, um, scales in melodies are two different things scales or just a device to use to kind of understand a key or understand your instrument. But it's not a melody, and it's probably important to get away from being trapped by instrumental exercises is something that you can do, uh, away from your instrument. So I thought for a while, Howard hell, are we going to describe this without using notation or or chord charts or anything like that? So you just came up with these blocks is, uh, coming with four chords and these blocks right down the notes in the cord. So a c a. Meyer straight who? So once you have that, then you just set your constraints like the 1st 1 that I would do right here is, uh I read a four note melody now I would probably never right or keep something where it's this retarded where it's just right on the down beats and just the thirds of the cords or whatever. But that's not the point. Point is, just get your brain going. So set your constraints. Um, just use quarter notes, for instance, and, um, decide that you're not going to use the roots. Because if you're playing the roots of the cord, you're not really writing something over the court. You're just kind of emphasizing the court. So pic four notes not using the roots. And then the other constraint would be You wanna have the notes that are the closest together now, that's not necessarily a rule, but why not? Right, Um, so I would just pick them. And this is something that I would sequence in, sequence these chords into easy keys or record them and then record the guitar over them. Some? Why not CGC f sharp? Hell, yeah. Cool. Once you have that, then, uh, then add another constraint to it like you're going to use Quarter and eighth knows Quarter, 8th 8th quarter, eighth redder. And then use a connecting note for the eighth notes that still within the court, Um, so you're constraint is that you can't go is outside of the notes in this court and the cord that's going on at the time? Um, that's not necessarily how you would actually come up with the finish, Melody. Obviously, you're gonna have notes in the finish Melody that outside of the cord. But if you just put on the training wheels, which is all that this is melody melodic training wheels. Eventually, stuff will just start coming out like, for instance, with that ostinato pattern that I wrote earlier. Um, originally, I was just going to do something that was the same thing every time, like a traditional one. But, um, once I set that constraint, then my ear told me we were we cooled ended a little different than started. And then that's where you start to develop an actual melody. So you see, it repeats a few times, and then it develops at the end into something else. Oh, sorry. I get really easy keys. play the pain recorded. It goes a little higher at the end, Um, and if I was sitting there dicking around with Scales forever or whatever, didn't set some constraints, I would have never had a direction to go in in the beginning. And who knows how long it would have taken? But, you know, it just took a few minutes, and I had something to start with now. It's not necessarily something I would keep write a hit song with, but at least it's something to get going with these exercises. Like I said, the beginning are not art and these air not songs. Uh, you're not. The point is not to be writing songs. What is sown like No shit. They're not songs there. You're laughing. Concern can is probably something amazing, but, uh, the you're not writing songs. When you're doing these exercises, you're basically warming up your brain or training your brain. And the idea is that once you kind of go through one or two of these all the way through, by the time you're done, you're ready to write and you have some new tools in your vocabulary. Um, if by chance you have been to write something cool when you're doing these. Hell, yeah, Why not? But, uh, it's that's not the point at all. This is kind of like, if you are a guitarist and you, you know, want to get better guitar. You practice scales 30 minutes a day or whatever in the same idea just for writing, so

Class Description

It’s easy for musicians to get so caught up in the latest gear, plugins, and presets, and forget that ultimately, it’s all about the music. Join Eyal Levi and special guests Ryan Clark (Demon Hunter), Todd Jones (Nails, Terror), and John Browne (Monuments) for an in-depth exploration of what it takes to craft great songs.

Eyal will share the tricks of the songwriting trade he’s learned over years of experience as a producer at Audiohammer Studios (The Black Dahlia Murder, August Burns Red, Whitechapel) and guitarist for Century Media/Roadrunner artists Daath. Throughout this two-day course, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the three core components of metal/rock songwriting. You’ll learn about basic song structure and riff-writing; melodies, leads, and vocals; and fine-tuning the arrangement to take your song from good to great. Eyal will be joined by special guests -- from musicians to producers and more -- who will empower you to take your songwriting to new heights.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Metal Songwriting Slides Session 1

Metal Songwriting Slides Session 2

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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user 6f3d0a

Eyal and all the guests are awesome here and really provide a solid education on Songwriting and writing within the Metal genre. One thing that Eyal said that really struck a chord with me, was how Songwriting was being taught at the music school he dropped out of and how it was uninspiring. I completely and thoroughly agree. I own many, many books and videos on Songwriting and I cannot get past the first few pages because it doesn't speak to me and my needs as a Songwriter who is focused on writing Metal. I've been playing Guitar for 25 years now and this is the very first course I've seen that takes Metal songwriting seriously and as a subject worth studying. I would like to commend CreativeLive on having the guts to feature heavy music so prominently in their courses and thank them for helping us establish Metal as a more serious genre. One that is worthy of awards, praise, distinction and honor. In Metal and Strength, R. Ross Strength Keeper Songwriting/Guitars/Vocals/Arranging

Mike Lamb

This was a massively inspirational and incredibly helpful course. By the end of it I had a notebook full of incredibly useful tips and tricks, and I definitely plan a rewatch as soon as possible. I've been in bands writing songs for the better part of 15 years, but this has put a lot of focus on some of the corners I've cut or the areas where I've been lazy with the smaller details. No matter where you are in your songwriting you'll definitely benefit from this, and Eyal articulates everything in an engaging way and positive way. Even if you think you're a good songwriter, there's a tonne here you can benefit from. 10/10 - Thanks Eyal!

Marco Ramírez

Great course, I have enjoyed it a lot and I'm sure I will come back to reinforce many of the concepts shown through the videos. Right now I'm good to go with ideas to apply to my songwriting skills and reinforce several concepts I already had developed prior to this course. This is a great lesson series... even for advanced musicians, anyone can get stuck in this wonderful world of writing and this course shows you tools to get out the best of this process.