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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 17 of 28

EZKEYS: Basics

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

17. EZKEYS: Basics

Lesson Info

EZKEYS: Basics

yesterday, we kind of talked about some really general overview kind of concepts of a song writing the structure there. That seems simple theme and variation structure, things that if you write a lot, are really obvious. But if you actually take the time to master these things, your songs will be way better. But now we're going to actually get into lots of specific little things you can do. Teoh put these ideas into use because one thing is talking about it, another thing is doing it. Um, one thing that I want to basically just touch on that we talked about a lot yesterday is that you don't need to really know theory to be good at writing. You don't need to know how to read music. You don't need to go to music school. You don't need to worry about any of those things, really, what you need to be focused on his writing. And with that, I go to our first, uh, real thing for the day, which is on Awesome program called Easy Keys, which I think was designed for people like me, because first ...

of all, I don't really play the piano anymore, but I started on it, but I stopped me when I was 10 A long time ago, Um, and I learned theory in school, but I'm by no means a theory master at all. And bit core changes and things like that aren't aren't something that I just think of instantaneously and guitar being my primary instrument. Writing on anything other than guitar could be a real challenger, imagining arrangements, sometimes with interesting harmonies. It could just be, Ah, just be a super challenge and typically time consuming and sometimes really uninspiring because it takes time. Um, this is a program that kind of were not kind of I think definitely handles lots of those problems for people like me, and and it's, ah, pretty good sounding virtual instruments. Well, but I say that I don't think that that's what's special about it. I mean, the piano sounds air cool, and there's lots of them, but I'm gonna get into why I think this is a killer song writing tools. So let's talk about easy keys. First of all, if, um, and you guys were familiar with other tune track products, this one is a little bit different in that when you get the different pianos. They have a few different ones. We only have one on this system. You actually get the player. You don't have to buy the player separately and then get all the different pianos. But start talking about making music, and he's gonna guide you through some of these features and explain you why they're cool. So you guys are familiar with easy drummer. You know that there's grooves, which are the pre recorded drum parts that air supercool for non drummers, to get realistic sounding ideas down quickly. Because nothing's worse than guitarists, it doesn't understand drums PROGRAMMING Dressel This is the same thing for chord changes and piano parts as well. But I think specifically chord changes and a school thing right here called the browser. But she might be familiar with which, uh, comes with a lot of midi. Now we don't have all of the different many libraries. There are a ton of, um um, and basically every every different piano that you get comes with more and more many libraries, and you can get them separately. But they basically are either single chords like this. Um, records like that that sort of thing or actual, you know, sections of songs where now you're probably wondering what the hell this has to do with talking about metal anything. And I'm about to get to that. But it was the Mideast. Cool. Uh, regardless of what style you're in, unless you play in a style, I guess you're not regards. But if you play with the style that has cords, um, the notes that make them up for the same and very using midi you it doesn't really matter what sound you have songs. You're getting the Chorzow with this browser. You can drag them out of here. Uh, go see now check it out right there. See how the key says, Major, it dragged out a single cord f Now stop that from playing If, um, get rid of this, say that I want a chord progression that pick it, drag it down, Got a chord progression. Ah, wonderful f major chord progression that you probably will never use in a metal song. But here's what's cool right here. Where has the key? One of the first major things you can do is, uh, change it to whatever you want and a so you can see actually, on my laptop. The key thing, the keys pop up right here. But I could see their bobbing up right here. But as you can see, all the different major keys and the relative miners will pop up. So say we want to switch this to F sharp minor suddenly. Now, again, this actual chord progression might not be something that you're using in your song. But just being able to make that shift instantaneously will probably save you a lot of work if you're not a, uh, level four Berkeley Harmony grad, Um, or even level one. So most the first cool thing about it is, uh, the minute you change the key down here, your, uh, your cords and the browser will change to reflect that. Now, what if you picked a progression or say, uh, get rid of this one? Because I don't like that pattern. Um, say you pick a pattern. Let's just find one that were cool with, like, yeah, I just picked this one random. Me cool. Sounds cool. I'm really not into standard major sounding stuff, so that's a little bit better. Um, say, uh, you know this isn't the chord progression in your song. It's really, really simple. Teoh. Just go to where these cords are. And this really awesome thing called The cord will pops up. Now there's this right here, I think, is the coolest thing about easy keys by far you can see here is a circle of fifths looking kind of wheel. Uh, has the shaded area which are basically the most common cords you would go to next after this previous quarter right here. So, like I say, I have sharp minor on I'm just picking random stuff. And then right here I e o uh, wonderful, right? Wonderful sounding progression. I'll make a cooling later, but points, you can change it to whatever chord you want again. These air, the most common ones that you would go to It takes the thinking out of the game for you, and you can select a different chord qualities right here, which again, if you're not a master of this stuff, you don't have it perfected in your head a very quick way to cycle through the way these touched a chord sounds. So I want to make this diminished seventh. And then what if I want to make this one something like a, uh six. Doesn't Beiring eso in in, like, two minutes? I've already got a way cooler sounding chord progression which, if I was messing around on this thing, would have taken me way longer. And I don't know if I would have come up with it on guitar right away, either. Because it's not your typical guitar kind of progression I should. One thing that we talked about yesterday, I think me and you were talking about this, that if you spend a long time on instrument, kind of get trapped within the confines of your technique or whatever your habits are. So if, uh, where there is certain type of sound you want to get that you haven't really worked on, like very classical style chord progressions and voicings that are designed for guitar and you've never worked on that stuff, you're probably not going to come up with it just by virtue of the fact that you've never worked on it. So, um, this will bypass that now. Another thing that we touched on yesterday, which I think bears mentioning is that one of the cool things about writing on an instrument that's not your own. It's that if you suck at it, um, you kind of starting with a blank slate. Like if you're coming up with a cool you're trying to come up with, like a melody on the keyboard in your guitar player the euro me very, very limited in what you can come up with, they're gonna be forced to come up with something cool and you're not going to be going to your guitar habits and whatever. However, have you actually want to come up with something that is not simple, for instance, or, you know it's a little bit more intricate that is just completely out of your skill level on the other instrument. This Ah, in a good way to get their like again, I would not have probably come up with this court progression this quickly or changed it this quickly on guitar. No, let me, uh, show you a few more things you can do with these cords. This super cool that the court will So one thing on guitar that ah, it takes forever to get really good at, um, our court inversions and arguably working on record inversions is one of the best things you can do to just open up a whole new, um, whole new ways of coming up with parts arrangements of making variations on that. But it takes a lot of work. I don't know if you've worked on inversions a lot, but it takes a lot of work. And there's endless positions and just tons of memorization, shapes, patterns, all that like this, Just like I don't know, I want version up to whatever working that out on guitar would take a while to, actually. Oh, again, learning how toe go through that on the piano of your not pianist and take forever. And if you're just on a MIDI editor that also take forever almost of your just, you know, Olympic athlete midi guy, um, up here, arm or cord qualities, you basically have every single option you could ever hope for. I don't hope for that one. I don't like it. I didn't like that one. Um, you have diminished right here. Basically, I'm sure you guys get the point. He's gonna make any type of progression you want. Now. Say that, um, you are start from scratch. You don't want to deal with groups or whatever. There's another way. Toe put these to make a chord progressions. So you just get rid of this, like, say, for instance, that I've got a chord progression in my head that I want to mess with. And I don't want Teoh. I don't want to deal with playing on guitar over and over again. And maybe like I was talking about earlier the position, they're the inversions. That note on guitar just aren't the right ones for the song. So I'm just gonna make something up. So go right here. This little guy. Have you guys can see? It's like the little plus sign thing is, president and a court shows up. You see, f sharp minor showed up. Yuki Right here. Is that sharp minor? Um, we changed the key to be honor, whatever that changes, and I'll just show you from scratch. See, that corresponds to your key right here. So make a four chord transit petition. I mean a progression. And I have put this in a mire, start with a Meyer and then go to see, I thought it was De Meyer, but they're all the same to me. Uh, it was a cool next chord, F major. And then now I picked this court progression because it's the same one is in the song that we opened up this, uh, this course with the S a house of the rising Sun. It's ah, Sam chord Progression Main corporation song. So may as well use something that it's relevant. So in order to, ah, select all the cores, by the way, I should point out that you should grab them up there, So ah, cool chord progression. And it would take a lot longer to come up with that on guitar. So I'm gonna actually bumped the tempo up a little, Said that, uh, we're not listening to that. And excruciatingly slow speed comes. Okay, So, uh, and something that might want to do here is changed him inversions up. Uh huh. Uh uh, again, basically, just hammering this home that this is something that on your primary instrument or on a midi editor would take a long time us of you just really awesome. And most of us aren't really awesome. Uh, but with this, you wouldn't know the difference. So also, there's, um, cool stuff here you can change your core lengths drag stuff around this tour it here, wolf cut stuff and ah was cool. But that is say, you want to insert a court in the middle of a measure like we'll just pick a random cord. There you go. It's probably sound dumb. Uh, great. Now, um, there's all kind of Get the get the picture with that, Your questions from the Internet about that particular topic. I'll check. I think it's pretty. You're doing a great job, Thanks anything. It's pretty. It's pretty straightforward. Hence, the title of the software, Um, and was really cool about it is that this is not something that's all that straightforward just of your A new instrumentalist trying to write stuff now, selecting those cords. And you see, when I select those chords use browser meaty comes up. So you notice I hit that in this earlier, uh, groove that we had just turned red. So what that means is that this is auditioning this court progression is auditioning through this pattern. Uh, which is too fast. They give you a guide temple right there. So just go to something that's closer, toe. I'll actually switch the tempo in the tuned. I go more listenable. Yeah. I mean, you can chain pick any one of these. Uh, so we do have one question. Yes, And it's sort of geared towards your personal, Like, how do you write dead A non wants Did anonymous, I think Wants to know how much have you personally used programs such as, Let's say, easy drum a guitar power in this case, easy keys, um, to arrange your own writing stuff. Do you typically rely on more modern software programs or are you sitting down with a guitar and chunkin stuff out? Well, uh, I used easy drummer pretty much as a rule when writing stuff involving drums. But one thing that that I've done a lot is right just to a, uh, click track first. But at least I tried to because I figured that if you have a good, good chord progression, a good melody, then then that's going to work. No matter what's going on in the accompaniment. Yeah, Then again, that doesn't always work, because if you're writing in metal, well, what's happening in the rhythm section is a big part of the song, so I like to have the option of using using that stuff or not, but in, ah, in my writing template, which is something that we covered yesterday, which we're going to be giving out with purchase of the class. Easy Drummer is in my writing templates so that I can go to it right when I need it, and I think that these kinds of modern tools are absolutely great. I wouldn't be talking about them if I didn't think they were great. I used to write on a four track cassette recorder back when I started, and then I moved to an eight track, and then I moved Teoh crappy PC with a SoundBlaster card. And then I moved to a PC with, uh, something else has crappy and every single time that I moved up to better technology, my writing got faster and better, so I'm all about using technologies Tool. So, yeah, absolutely. However, I will say that one of the things that people need to be aware of at all times is that they don't get carried away with technology like we talked about yesterday's. A lot of people can start writing and then 80 D and start mixing, and I haven't realized mixing or will spend like, uh, a month working on eight bars of music because they're arranging whole symphonic metal songs, multiple lead guitars and vocals. And I try to not do that, regardless of if I have the technology to pull it off. Um, try to actually be writing. And I hope that answers the question. Yeah, it does. So it sounds like Onley like what you said that I took away from that is, as from the four track tape recorder all the way to like your modern Dawes with easy keys and and all the software that you have, you only use it to the extent that it enables and makes you already process better and more efficient. Absolutely. And, uh, what I'm what I'm trying to show right now is that if I was in situation, I wanted to write some chord progression based music that, uh, involved chord progressions that weren't readily. That wasn't really I guess that great at on guitar or that fast with or whatever, This would be an excellent way Teoh to pull it off. I think so. Of that helps to have a couple more little things you wanna show us, and then we'll think we're getting pat ready. Getting ready right now. All right. Um, I guess there's a couple of more things that I'll just touch on real quick. Um, the main thing, though already covered, Which is that for people who don't know theory, this whole court wheel thing is pretty much the coolest thing out there now, also. Oh, side note right here in the menu, Uh, give you a pdf, which is Ah, primer on ah, music theory. You know, it's nothing that complicated. It's almost stuff that I think every musician should learn at some point, but they included it. You could read it makes sense. And if you learn this stuff, your life will be easier is a musician. But, um, the only other thing that I really wanted to touch on which I thought was super super cool was, um, finishes. Okay, you see how it's in red right now over auditioning these grooves through our court progression? Uh, you gotta hit, replace once you hit. Replace the midi becomes this group. Now, the way that I would use this in a song is, uh, I would then drag this MIDI into my browser. And why is that? Well, I guess because I don't really use pianos very often in my music, not a huge piano fan. Uh, and if I do use it, it's every once in a while. However, I use synth in my music a lot, and, uh, Midi is mid eu Come up with a cool chord progression. Take the Mickey out, route it to whatever center, um, whatever you want. And there it is. I consider this more of a writing tool than a virtual instrument, though the sounds in it are pretty good. And, uh, so when you say you since a lot in your music does that, what do you use it in from a mixing standpoint, in like an arrangement standpoint, where do you put the synths? Is that to fatten it up and just give it some of that that sparkle? Um well, I guess it depends, but something that we did in death a lot was, ah, arrange our songs to where Save You got a full chord progression going across. The band band is playing a rift that's like just say four chords. A lot of the time, we would arrange it across certain instruments toe where, say guitars were playing root fifth and the synth would be playing like routine thirds or wherever. So we'll make arrangements with riffs towards a combination of guitar and synth or yes, sometimes it's bad. Sentencer sparkle. I guess it always depends sometimes for melodies. But the thing that always slowed me down was getting our chord progressions on their inversions into into midi. Just because I'm not good at that, I just touched on one more thing real quick. Oh, you're dead. There's, ah, record button right here. Um, you get rid of this court progression. Say you ah, are playing around with a keyboard and you don't know what chords you're playing you can and it will tell you what you did, which is extremely useful because once you know what you did, it's really easy to two week. Like, for instance, we were trying to come to the court progression to a song that already exists, like you're making a sense, Teoh something that you wrote on guitar and you think you know the chord progression, but just not quite there. But you got the 1st 2 So whatever their that down and say that this one is not see, but it's ah, G. Whenever you done, you have your chord progression in and one cool trick that I would like people out there to try that I haven't tried, but it's just an idea I got. And if anybody out there has this set up, police, try it and let me know if it works. Any of you have, Ah, guitar midi set up where you can record midi off of your guitar into your Daw. I would be curious to know if this records it accurately, because for those of us who play an alternate tunings, um, one of the I think one of the things that's freeing about alternate tunings is that you don't know what key you're in usually or what court profession playing. But the way that that could be limiting is that you don't know what you're doing. So then when you want to write a synth part, you're going all by here, and if you're not a piano player, is going to slow you down. If you could record your midi off of the guitar into this, have it analyzed that Well, you know your court progression and you've immediately sped up your process. So someone wants to try that out there. When we know if it works, I would be very appreciative. Like you said, you played in those cords there and then I tell you what they are. I'm just curious. What is it? Display? If you play a chord that's not like a completely normal cord. Let's find out. I'm just curious little from what I from my experience. If it's too weird of Accord, it'll mess it up like just go. Yeah, it's just a lot of, like minor seconds together. Just make something weird and see what happens. Let's see, I think that the 1st 1 was almost there and showing you what whatever note represents in the court structure. Something under this court in major. Seven at 13 minor nine. So weird court. So, yeah, I mean, I think that it was one note off from what I played. It sounded like it, but still. I mean, it's pretty damn close. And yeah, that's a good question, especially with guitar, because of how some people play. Their lots of guitar chords are strange and hard to analyze, so you know, this speeds it out for you. That's all the better

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

Related Classes


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.