EZKEYS: Basics


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

EZKEYS: Basics

Yesterday we kind of talked about some really general overview kind of concepts of a song writing like structure there that seems simple theme and variations 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 teo teo put these ideas into use because one thing is talking about 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 r...

eally play the piano anymore I started on it, but I stopped me when I was ten a long time ago um and I learned theory in school but by no means a theory master at all and a bit court 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 can be a real challenger imagining arrangements sometimes with interesting harmonies it could just be a and just be a super challenge and typically time consuming and sometimes really uninspiring because it takes time this is a program that kind of what kind of think definitely handles lots of those problems for people like me and and it's ah pretty good sending virtual instrument as 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 going to get into why I think this is a killer song writing tool so let's talk about easy keys first of all, if you guys they're 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 we start talking about making music and he's goingto 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 groups 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 guitarist that doesn't understand drums for getting dressed this is the same thing for chord changes and panel parts as well but I think specifically chord changes and this cool thing right here called the browser but she might be familiar with which uh comes with a lot of mini now we don't have all of the different many libraries there are a ton of um and basically every very different piano that you get comes with more and more many libraries and you can get them separately but the basically are uh either single chords like this um records like 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 regardless of what stallion you in unless you play in a style I guess you're not regards but if you play with the style that has chords the notes that make them up for the same and very using midi you know it doesn't really matter what sound you have songs you're getting the court so with this browser you khun drag them out of here you go see now check it out right there see how the key says major dragged out a single chord now you stop that from playing if get rid of this say that I want a chord progression that picket drag it down got a chord progression wonderful f major chord progression that you probable never using 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 change it to whatever you want and a sze yu can see actually on my laptop. The key thing the key's pop up right here, but I can see they're 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 level for berkeley harmony grad or even level one so most the first cool thing about it is the minute you change the key down here, your your cores in 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 um say you pick a pattern, mrs find one that were cool with like a I just picked this one randomly all right cool sounds cool I'm really not into standard major sounding stuff so uh that's a little bit better say uh you know this isn't the core progression in your song is really really simple tio is goto where these chords 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 fifth looking kind of will er has the shaded area which are basically the most common chords you would go to next after this previous court right here so like seo are sharp minor on dh I'm just picking random stuff and then right here I go teo ah wonderful wonderful sounding progression I'll make a cool on 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 court qualities right here which again if you're not a master of this stuff we don't have it perfected in your head in a very quick way to cycle through the way these touched a chord sound so I want to make this diminished seventh year and then what if I want to make this one something like a uh sixty four get rid of that one so didn't bother anymore ah so in love in like, two minutes have already got a way cooler sounding chord progression, which if I was messing around on this thing, what had 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, and one thing that we talked about yesterday, I think me and you were talking about this that if you spent a long time on instrument kind of get trapped within the confines of your technique or whatever your habits are. So if there is a certain type of sound you want to get that you don'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 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 is that if you suck at it, you're 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 a keyboard in your guitar player, you're going tio very, very limited in what you can come up with you'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 what have you actually want to come up with something that is not simple for instance or yeah there's a little bit more intricate that is just completely out of your skill level on the other instrument this 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 bon guitar now let me show you a a few more things you could do with these chords this super cool and that the court will so one thing on guitar that takes forever teo get really good at 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 whole new ways of coming up with parts arrangements of making variations all that but it takes a lot of work. I don't know if if you've worked on inversiones 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 be able t o on again learning howto go through that on the piano of you're not pianist and take forever and if you're just on a midi editor that also take forever on the severe 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 didn't like that one um have diminished right here ah s basically I'm sure you guys get the point he is going to make any type of progression you want now say that usr from scratch but you don't want to deal with, uh with groups or whatever there's another way to put these, uh to make a chord progression 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 tio I don't want to deal with playing it on guitar over and over again and maybe like I was talking about earlier the position they're the inversions of note on guitar just aren't the right ones for the song so I'm just going to make something up so go right here this little guy have you concede 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 let's have sharp minor um we changed the key to be honor whatever that changes and I want to show you for scratch see that corresponds teo your key right here so make a for cord transit fission I mean progression and and I put this in a mire and I started a meyer and then good to see I thought it was de meyer but I don't know that they're all the same to me uh it was a cool next chord f major now I picked this court progression because it's the same one is in the song that we opened up this uh this course for the s a house of the rising sun it's uh sam chord progression main corporation the song so may as well use something that it's relevant so in order teo select all of course by the way I should point out that you should grab them up there so it's a cool chord progression and it would take a lot longer to come up with that on guitar so I'm going to actually bumped the tempo up a little so that uh we're not listening to that an excruciatingly slow speed ah okay so uh and something might want to do here is change some inversions up ah ah ah ah 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 hus ofyou just really awesome um and most of us aren't really awesome uh but with this you won't know the difference so also there's some cool stuff here you can change your core lengths drag stuff around this tour here will cut stuff and was cool but that is say you want to insert a court in the of a measure like just pick a random cord there yo sound dumb ah, great. No, um there's all kind of get the get the picture with that questions from the internet about that particular topic I'll check I think it's pretty you're doing a great job. Thanks. I think it's pretty it's pretty straightforward hence the title of the software that was really cool about it is that this is not something that's all that straightforward just of your annoyance tremendous list trying to write stuff no selecting those chords and you see, when I select those chords use browser meaty comes up so we know it's I hit that and 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 ah, which is too fast they give you a guide temple right there so I'll just go to something that's closer toe I'll actually switched the tempo in the tuned listenable yeah, I mean you can chain pick any one of these ah wait do have one question yes and it's it's sort of geared towards your personal like how do you write dead a non wants don't did anonymous I think wants to know how much have you personally used programs such as let's say easy drama guitar brah in this case easy kees to arrange your own writing stuff do you typically rely on more modern software programs or are you sitting down with the guitar and chunk and stuff out? Well, uh, I views 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 click track at first but at least I tried to because I figured that if you have a good good court progression a good melody then then that's going to work no matter what's going on in the accompaniment. Then again, that doesn't always work as if you're writing in metal well what's happening and 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 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 template 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 I moved in a track and then I moved teo crappy pc with a soundblaster card, and then I moved to a pc with something else that's crappy and every single time that I moved up to better technology in my writing faster and better so 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 is a lot of people can start writing in the a d d and start mixing, and I realized they're mixing or we'll spend like, uh, a month working on eight bars of music because they're arranging the whole symphonic metal song with multiple lead guitars and vocals and try to not do that regardless of if I have the technology to pull it off, try to actually be writing, and I hope that answers the question yeah, it does so it sounds like you on ly like what you said that I took away from that is as like 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 on ly use it to the extent that it enables and makes your writing 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 a situation I wanted to write some chord progression based music that 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 teo to pull it off I think so of that house have a couple more little things you wanna show us and them I think we're getting pat ready for games right now all right? 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 I don't know theory this whole court wheel thing is pretty much the coolest thing out there now also whole side note right here in the menu uh give you a pdf which is a 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 only other thing that I really wanted to touch on which I thought was super super cool was um I finish is okay you see how it's in red right now over auditioning these grooves through our chord progression you gotta hit replace once you hit replace the midi becomes this groove now the way that I would use this in a song is uh I would then drag this middie 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 you sent in my music a lot and midea smitty, you come up with a cool chord progression take the midi out route it to whatever sent there whatever you want and there it is this I consider this more of a writing tool than a virtual instrument though the sounds in it are pretty good. And so when you say you since a lot in your music does that what do you use it in from mixing standpoint in like an arrangement standpoint, where do you but the sense 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 didn't death a lot was uh arrange our songs to where save you got a full chord progression going across the band band is playing a riff that's like just say four chords a lot of the time we would arrange it across certain instruments toe where say guitars we playing root fifth and the scent would be playing like routine thirds or whatever so we make your ancients of the riffs towards a combination of guitar and since or yes sometimes his pad sentencer sparkle I guess it always depends sometimes for melodies uh but the thing that always slowed me down was getting our chord progressions on dh there inversions into into midi just because I'm not good at that I just touched on one more thing real quick oh you're good there's ah record button right here um you get rid of this court progression say you, uh are playing around with a keyboard and you don't know accord you're playing, you can and it'll tell you what you did, which is extremely useful because once you know what you did it's really easy to tweak like for instance, we were trying to come to the court progression to a song that already exists like you're making a sense, teo something that you wrote on guitar and you think you know the chord progression but just not quite there but you got the first two so whatever they're that down and say that this one is not see but it's uh g done you have your court 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 setup police try it and let me know if it works if any of you have ah guitar midi setup where you can record midi off of your guitar into your dog I would be curious to know if this records it accurately because for those of us who play an alternate tunings 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 sense 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 haven't analysed that well you know your court progression and you've immediately sped up your process so someone wants to try that out there let me know if it works I would be very appreciative so like you said you played in those cords there and then tell me what they are I'm just curious what is it display if you play a chord that's not like a completely normal chord let's, find out I'm just curious little display from what I, from my experience. If it's too weird of accord, it'll mess it up like just getting this guy says going, 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 first one was almost there and showing you what whatever note represents in the core structure, some things, this court in major seven at thirteen, minor nine, so weird course. 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 there. 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.


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!