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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 2 of 28

Course Introduction

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

2. Course Introduction

Lesson Info

Course Introduction

I guess, Ah, 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, cause this is a pretty subjective thing. Um, I guess if you guys have watched my other creative lives have been pretty straightforward stuff like drum production, maybe you guys have seen it. 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. I have been involved in the writing of or 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 Ah not good. I guess taste is a subjective thing, but I think there's a level of which things air undeniably badass, and I just talked t...

o you about some of the elements that I think involved in that. And, uh, there's some albums that you know of that have 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, um, don't exactly have their songs complete or ah, 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 gonna be useful for you because at some point, you're going to either be taking your own songs into the studio. Are you going to fixing somebody else's songs and just kind of arguable. And I'm sure you know that. Erin, 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 will let me. 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 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 over. 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 a whole lot better than we even anticipated. It could be, you know? Well, I guess, Oh, 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 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 a 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 were good and some ideas are bad. But it's 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, uh, from the band side of things, I guess some What would it take for you to actually be cool with the producers? Input on a song like, if you went into a studio and producer was like, Hey, man, that song kind of sucks. Made a rewrite it Would you be like, uh, no not happening. We go into the studio, we go into somebody who were excited to be in the studio with eso. 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 that aren't finished. But for the most part, we go into the studio with somebody who we value their opinion. So, you know, I tell I tell them right off the bat. Hey, look, you know, either we have this album done. We're good. We're just gonna 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 were that open. One thing I have to say those as a producer, I've noticed that when a band is open like that to suggestions on songwriting, um, you basically have one or two chances. Teoh present a good idea before the band shuts off to your input, so I mean, you know, uh, I definitely have experienced it the other way around, but if you're a producer and Ban wants your input and you present crappy ideas, it's not gonna be too long before they stop asking you for your input. So, um, one more reason for, I think producers to take a songwriting craft a little bit more seriously because bands will actually pay attention to them to their ideas. In theory, uh, least in the position you're in. You. Should anybody who goes to record with that 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, um, producers opinion is always right by any stretch of the imagination, but, uh, I guess, um, you are You are paying for somebody's inputs. So, uh, well, I also think there's a difference between a producer and an engineer. Absolutely, But does go hand in hand. But there's in our world those absolutely these days at least, so kind of what we've been talking about is, you know, why should anyone take a class of us already? Um, this is honestly one of the topics that let me to drop out of music school. I just thought it was taught so badly. It was so uninspiring. And 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 way to look a song writing is like it says they're half art and have craft on the, uh, art part is really a part that no one could teach you. And I'm not gonna try toe pretend like I can teach anybody the art said writing That's totally on them. You either got it or you don't, but I know some tricks toe, I guess. Get your creativity going. We'll definitely talk about that. And the craft cider writing, I think, is very objective. Things like structure and attention release and pacing and, you know, catching this all all that stuff is not really arguable. 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 The thing that no one can really quantify, that we're not really gonna talk about too much exercise wise and, uh, 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. Uh, no idea how to write hooks and their song for boring. And I pretty much agree. So that's what we're gonna 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, uh, 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, uh do you need to know theory? And I say no, but it can't hurt. We're not gonna cover theory too much. Um, there's plenty of places where you can go look up. Uh, total harmony and court theory and all that were we're gonna very lightly touch on the topic and move on. Um, 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 listed out a hierarchy right there that I think is a priority 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 chord. And if the rhythm is interesting, you've got a song? No, uh, no harmonic movement at all. No melody, nothing. So I think a rhythm goes First song structure goes second because tension and release is everything again. You can have tension and release happening without any theory and without any melody and dynamics. Or third, I've heard songs that air all rhythm song structure and dynamics that air Amazing. I mean, lots of death metal, um, 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 song should be is theoretically correct as possible. And if your arrangements sucks, the song sucks. And, uh, once again, one of the reasons that I left music school was because I waas 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 everything was harmonically perfect. Theoretically, 100% there they would have definitely got in 100 on the midterm or the exam, maybe even gone in the bonus points to everything worked. But men, those songs, right? The worst songs I've ever heard in my life maybe 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. But it's still crap. Um, and again, I'm not saying that I'm a writing master, but I'm definitely not going Teoh fair brainwashing with that garbage. But you don't need to be a theory master to write cool songs. Um, honestly, think that melody and harmony are the last things need to know. Um, 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 six issue the most, but you don't need it. It's definitely a bonus points. Um, and, uh, again, if you want to learn theory, maybe we'll, uh, we'll do an ad on class later or buy a book. Um, there's lots of them out there, and that brings me Teoh. One of the things that seems to really come up for me and modern music is, uh, now that his theory is not important, Melody is not that important. Uh, you have a world of music that's based on more rhythm and arrangement and dynamics and production. And I think 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, uh, 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, and one is just a little bit louder than the other. The untrained ear or brain will think that that one is a better song. Sounds better. It's just more emotionally impactful, all that shit and it's Ah, it's important to be able to, I guess, Ah, have a discerning here. 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 Teoh to simulate 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 your 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, Um, and I think one of the things that I think I think sometimes it will cross over if you in a style of music. That's very harmony and melody based. But like I said, lots of styles aren't so. Should always be checking. Um, sometimes it works out really, really well, though, and I'll play you a cover. Really, really old song done modern. And, uh, 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 read in that stood the test of time. Eso There I am contradicting myself. It can never hurt you to get better at music. There's Ah yeah, that's by the way that was actually covered by another band recently. That's Muse. They're pretty great. Um 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 would still be cool. Yeah, written sixties, but absolutely. And I guess that's the That's the power of 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, ah, angel of death for metals like a classic, you know it's not. You didn'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 you really you can trick yourself? Sometimes you gotta be careful. So here's a midi Angela 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. Ah, there is one thing about this that I think is worth noting. The middle riff that everybody was instrumental knows, still sounds awesome. Uh, well, not that one. I'll find it right here. This is it. You know, it will sing a Commodore 64 but it's still cool. You can tell it's a good riff. And ah, that's Ah. What I'm basically trying to say is this goes either Which way? So you got to 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 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 get 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.

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.