Chord Progression Exercise


Mastering Metal Songwriting


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 they're used the line um uh basically fragments with melodic intent is kind of is a lot more in the language of metal than say, you know, a bar melody that starts here and ends eight bars later 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 um with that is say you pick a chord patterns um so on this picked the same one that we've been using through this whole time that a miner 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 only so many chords they didn...

't invent those chords in that order it's everything including the melody that uh that comes together that defines the song 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 in 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 too determined them in advance set your constraints and inside you're going toe do a short repeating melodic fragments this is the one I came up with for these four chords anyways um and that took exactly forty five seconds uh and won the songs that we heard yesterday the second song there was all this kind of stuff happening through um 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 that you'll be much better off so find a small fragment that works over all the courts and just play it and ditches students and exercise again. So is this the one I came up with you khun do any number of different ones but the minute you add this and suddenly this seemingly mundane core 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 one thing that will make your song for interesting life 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 uh say that I just I want to build a section out of that but I don't want to just do the same thing over and over and over and over again um there's some tricks that you khun 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 uh 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 chord so it'll be a miner c major f major on the second time and I dropped the f major chord and then it will be a minor c major d major simple little change but basically going from hey that's a simple exercise but suddenly it sounds like there's a little bit of development in that core progression and really changing things the same four chords that I came up with but by subtracting a different element on every repetition suddenly it sounds like uh like to like, I guess a developing court profession 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 because I think this is going to 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 you know, helps you make a good song. Hopefully, um another thing that you can 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 is something that people come they do just do in addition of a different cord, like one thing that I thought was cool was at a g sharp major so that would sound like this nirvana does stuff like that. But if you, uh, if you run that through its paces, basically playing it the normal way, way you can uh, one little change right there basically as a whole new light to the entire thing, so I would not I wouldn't really dick around too much hunting for perfect chords and ah kill yourself for this kind of stuff I would come over the core progression and just literally try to subtract and azem chords 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 and easy kees you know show you that real quick um if say you're saying you're not that quick with the guitar or 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 I'm a minor major way say charmaine f major uh d sure this is not playing at the same time as anything else ah what's up yeah, so that's the original chord progression but, uh speed up the tempo so that we don't know when I'll fall asleep listening to it ah okay. So, um area here's a subtraction exercise so I'm going to make this twice is long and then what? We said that the first time through f major court we would subtract the d just have the f go twice as long so there you go. The second time was attract the f and the deco twice as long sure, why not cool and airy accord color shit mary the second after it different version ah ah, you know what? I don't like it any more but a 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 and never really know what it is that you're doing and if you record the guitar it's also you can't just be like I don't like this court progression anymore just change it, change it, change it chance has changed that so that's a very, very effective use of easy kees is toe get the most out of your core progressions exciting but it's um 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 got to drink dragon dropping out right here right into cool right in there yeah is that simple? I don't even know if 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 groove 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 one eleven b p m you know like funk one fourteen like aside you probably don't want that exact performance is probably one little thing in there that you like so yeah, the one thing about this is that this is not a midi editor so if you do want to edit the midday you need to bring it into your your browser so the way that I would do this is I would make sure that you're straight with her court 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 going 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 soon 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, quick little thing that you can do teo get quicker at writing melodies and weii we ran out of time yesterday we were going to go through vocal melodies and harmonies and you 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 of basically super intense melody work but for people that just want to get started and I can't write a melody to save their life um I think that the same principles 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 simple is this um get this keynote thank you were ahead of me on it um say you have uh this looks like an old key note with different some different chords but that doesn't matter the concept the same. So say you have four chord progression and uh a 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 are not that good do when they play guitar is start tio start they resort to this scale knowledge which is not that good because scales in mellie's 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 bye instrumental exercises is something that you could 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 he just came up with these blocks is, uh coming with four chords and these blocks write down the notes in the cord so a see a meyer straight who? So once you have that then you just set your constraints like the first one 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 downbeat ce 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, uh 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 pick four notes not using the routes 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 just picked 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 so why not c g c f sharp hella cool once you have that then uh then at another constraint to it like you're going to use quarter and eighth nose like quarter eighth eighth quarter a faith or whatever and then use a connecting note for the eighth notes that's 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 finnish melody obviously you're gonna have notes in the finnish value outside of the chord 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 once I set that constraint then my ear told me we'll recall that ended a little differently started and then that's where you start to devote an actual melody so you see it repeats a few times and then it develops at the end into something else so sorry get easy kees play that recorded a little higher at the end um and if I was sitting there dicking around with scales forever or whatever didn't set some concerns I would have never had a direction to go in in the beginning and who knows how long it would've 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 ah you're not the point is not to be writing songs what is someone like no shit they're not songs there you're laughing uh it's probably something amazing but the you're not writing songs and 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 if by chance you happen to write something cool when you're doing these hell yeah why not but 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 thirty 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.


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!