Mastering Metal Songwriting


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

Course Introduction

I guess I'll start by saying that I am not a song writing master at all, but you know, whether I am or not doesn't really matter because this is a pretty subjective thing I guess if you guys have watched my other creative lives have been pretty straightforward stuff like drum production I don't know maybe you guys have seen maybe you haven't, but this stuff is not really all that straightforward there's eight million different ways to approach song writing and I think that I might have something you would be interested in hearing about it maybe maybe not. I've worked on a ton of records both as a guitarist or a producer engineer whatever been involved in the writing of our production of hundreds of songs and I've got a pretty good idea of what sucks and what doesn't and I think that there's some some pretty objective criteria as toe what's not good um I guess taste is a subjective thing, but I think there's a level which things air undeniably badass and I just talked to you about some ...

of the elements that I think are involved in that and, uh, there's some albums that you know of that I've written on, but I've ridden on way more than that just can't actually get credit for any of those lots of times we get bands in the studio that don't exactly have their songs complete or good bye bye that matter and they need our help so I think that if you're a producer or you're in a band, this is going to be useful for you because at some point you're going to either be taking your own songs into the studio or you're gonna be fixing somebody else's songs and just kind of arguable on I'm sure you know that aaron how? Ah, just out of curiosity, how often do you end up fixing people's songs when they come into record? Probably as often as they'll let me know yeah, I mean it's honestly great when someone comes in and they're very well prepared and the materials grade and I don't have to complain about it you know and it's just that's it seems like it's pretty rare though so I try to not like step on people's toes too much and be like, oh, it has to be this way or all your song is terrible but at the same time it's best when someone comes in with an open an open mind set like hey let's at least explore some ideas here and maybe we can make this long a whole lot better than we even anticipated it could be you know well I guess based on what you just said, how do you approach it if the song is just terrible? What do you say I mean, it helps once you kind of know the band members a little bit like if they just walk in your door and you're just meeting him right then and then you play the song or you hear the song and then you know, there has to be a level of trust between the the producer and then the band so that you don't feel like, you know, there's a weird dynamic going on or something like that, but once that trust is established and you can kind of talk openly between parties like that it's just kind of like, hey, so I'm thinking maybe, you know, this part gets a little bit too repetitive here maybe this verse section just let's let's cut this in half and let's change the, you know, it's just kind of moving stuff around a little bit and then you know, some ideas of getting some ideas are bad but interesting that you bring that up about the structural changes because I think I think there's a misconception out there as well about where the line between production and song writing ends and begins, I guess and in my opinion, it's all writing some people could disagree with me, but, you know, structure is pretty integral to the song, and I guess todd sent from the from the band's side of things, I guess what would it take for you to actually be cool with the producers in put on a song like if you went into a studio and producer was like hey man it song kind of sucks made every right would you be like no not happening we go into the studio we go into somebody who were excited to be in the studio with so generally you know we don't go in the studio without an album written there might be parts that we need help with there might be things that little things are finished but for the most part we go into the studio with somebody who we value their opinion so you know I tell tell them right off the bat hey look you know either we have this album done we're good we're just going to record it or you know I have this I have this song and you know I want you to tell me what you think if you have any knee jerk reactions when you hear it let me know or or I just tell him hey look at any time please give me your input if you think something sounds off or if you have a good a good reaction to something something inspires you and you think we need to shorten something or you hear something maybe some sort of drum beat or whatever yeah I think that's really cool actually wish more bands for that open one thing I have to say those as a producer have noticed that when a band is open like that to suggestions on songwriting, you basically have one or two chances tio present a good idea before the band shuts off to your input, so, I mean, you know, I definitely have experienced that the other way around, but if you're a producer and ban wants your input and you present crappy ideas, it's not going to be too long before they stop asking you for your input. So one more reason for I think producers to take a songwriting craft a little bit more seriously because bands will actually you pay attention to them to their ideas in theory, a decent position you're in, you should anybody who goes to record with you should should know who you are, what you've done, and they should be excited about recording with you. So in theory, they should be welcome to any opinions you have. Yeah, I agree with that. That doesn't mean that I think that producers opinion is always right by any stretch of the imagination, but I guess you are you are paying for somebody's input, so, uh, well, I also think there's a difference between a producer and an engineer, absolutely that does go hand in hand, but there's in our world does absolutely these days at least so kind of what we've been talking about is, uh, you know, why should anyone take a class of us on writing? Um this is honestly one of the topics that led me to drop out of music school I was thought it was taught so badly, andi was so uninspiring and was one of the main things that I was into musically, that just kind of killed it for me, and I honestly haven't really seen it taught very well anywhere, and I think that it's because it's such a seemingly subjective topic, but there actually are a bunch of objective, objective things that you can apply to it and, uh, I think that basically the wayto look att song writing is like a says they're half art and half craft in the art part is really a part that no one could teach you, and I'm not going to try toe pretend like I can teach anybody the art side of writing that's totally on them, you know, either got it or you don't, but I know some tricks too. I guess get your creativity going. We'll definitely talk about that and the craft side of writing I think is very objective things like structure on dh attention release and pacing and, you know, catching this all that all that stuff is not really argue either your songs or boring or they're not boring and I think to write great songs you need both both that spark you know that that thing that no one can really quantify that we're not really going to talk about too much uh exercise wise and the craft side um basically got a shitload of content um packed into two days uh I have been asking questions on the internet people to see what they were interested in and uh I guess what people's biggest issues were with writing and most people responded that they didn't know how to deal with writer's block and know how to deal with transitions that no idea how to write hooks and their songs are boring and I pretty much agree so that's what we're going to be talking about got really, really awesome guests including yourself todd jones from nails we got ryan clark from demon hunter coming in later on today. He's amazing vocalists and great songwriter we've got john brown from monuments coming in tomorrow who's amazing guitarist and songwriter engineer everything we're going talk about their songs as well as songs that they like and songs that they don't like and uh this is something that's come up quite a bit is do you need to know theory and I say no, but it can't hurt we're not going to cover theory too much there's plenty of places where you can go look up tonal harmony and court there in all that we're we're going very lightly touch on the topic and move on and you can go to berkeley for that they teach it really really well better than I could ever teach it and that's something that takes years years and years it's not something you can cover in two days and I don't honestly think it's all that crucial to writing great songs I think I listened out a hierarchy right there that I think is a priority tea for writing cool stuff I think rhythm comes first because you can have cool songs that are just one riff or like one beat or one cord and if the rhythm's interesting you've got a song no no harmonic movement at all no melody nothing so I think rhythm goes first song structure goes second because tension and release is everything again you can have tension and release happening without any theory on dh without any melody and dynamics or third I've heard songs that air all rhythm song structure and dynamics that air amazing in lots of death metal lots of rap lots of lots of modern music has zero melody going on it's still pretty cool I think you can build those dynamics and instructor through your arrangements so that's the next most important thing and uh I think your son should be is theoretically correct as possible and if your arrangements sucks the song sucks and once again, one of the reasons that I left music school was because I wass involved in lots of music writing classes and you would have the professor's presenting their compositions to the class has happened on numerous occasions and uh everything was harmonically perfect theoretically one hundred percent there they would have definitely got in one hundred on the midterm or the exam maybe even gone in the bonus points to everything worked but man those songs right the worst song I've ever heard in my life made me want to kill myself listening to that stuff it was like how are you teaching any of us how to write like you write nothing but crap and it's harmonically correct crap it's still crap and again I'm not saying that I'm writing master but I'm definitely not going teo brainwashing with that garbage but you don't need to be a theory master to write cool songs I honestly think that melody and harmony are the last things you need to know nothing beats a good melody obviously you know that's what you walk down the street singing usually that's one of the things that's six issue the most but you don't need it it's definitely bonus points um and uh again if, uh you want to learn theory may be well it will do an ad on class later or buy a book um there's lots of them out there and that brings me tio one of the things that seems to really come up for me in modern music is now that I guess theories unimportant melody's not that important uh you have a world of music that's based on more rhythm and arrangement and dynamics and production and think hq that lots of times production can fool the hell out of people into thinking that a song is good um I mean there's a really simple thing you can do to trick yourself into thinking something sounds better, which is just turn it up and I mean I'm serious your brain perceives it's absolutely true if you listen to two songs back to backer to mix is of the same song on one is just a little bit louder than the other the untrained here are brain will think that that one is a better song sounds better it's just more emotionally impactful all that shit and uh it's ah it's important to be able to I guess have a discerning ear and when you're writing you're gonna make sure not to play these tricks on yourself like turning things up too loud or using too many effects teo to simulate uh to simulate a good part but not actually a good part and one thing that you should do when working on these examples is I'll just say that I encourage you to actually work on the exercises and examples with the actual tone of the band that you write for give you in a death metal band do this stuff on distortion and sequence blast beats and all that stuff like don't write it on an acoustic guitar and then try toe adapted to death metal that's just done um I mean sometimes stuff crosses over but not always and I think one of the things that I think I think sometimes it will cross over if you're in a style music that's very harmony and melody based but like I said, lots of styles aren't so should always be checking sometimes it works out really really well though, and I'll play you a cover really really old song done modern and I think that the only reason that this cover even works is because the harming the melody were written so well back when they were written that said the test of time s oh, there I am contradicting myself it can never hurt you to get better music there's uh yeah that's by the way that was actually covered by another band recently that's muse they're pretty great as a great song too but the you know the harmony and melody are all there you could you could play that song ukulele and it was still be cool yeah written sixties but absolutely and I guess that's the that's the power of a well written material however what I was talking about earlier is that you can still trick yourself because check out this version of angel of death and I guess angela death for metal is like a classic you know it's not you don't really have much harmony or melody going on it's all pretty a tonal fast just aggressive stuff but you take it out of its out of its ah medium and it just kind of sounds like garbage for the most part it's a great song still so he really you can trick yourself sometimes you're going be careful so here's a midi angel of death so I think that you couldn't really tell from that that that's one of the most influential metal songs of all time however there is there is one thing about this that I think is worth noting the middle riff that everybody listens to metal knows still sounds awesome uh well not that one I'll find it right here this is it you know you're seeing a commodore sixty four but it's still cool you can tell it's a good riff and that's what I'm basically trying to say is this goes either which way? So you gotta refine your tastes and your opinions and once again part of the reason that I think that this is a really hard class to teach and a tough topic is because you think things are one way house of the rising sun where you can. If it's a good song. It adapts across any stone music and still cool. But then the exact opposite thing happens where a great song doesn't adapt well. But then, halfway through the song, it does adapt well, so what? How does that work, which is that? Who knows? I guess if you got a good fan reaction than it works.

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.