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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 27 of 28

Polyrhythms and Layering

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

27. Polyrhythms and Layering

Lesson Info

Polyrhythms and Layering

there's a really cool because this is to me personally. This is something that I've always pretty much sucked at, except for when, uh, you know, I've written in on me to riff or probably rhythm by accident, and it's worked. Um, and this intimidates a lot of people. I think it's a very scary thing. Uh, well, im musicians cause they get wrapped up in their own head, But it's actually pretty simple if you break it down. Actually, uh, you breaking it down for me, it was like, Wow, this is really not that bad. Look, So let's go through some of the basic things that you guys generally do. You're saying that for the most part, even if you got a nod meter riff still works into 44? Yeah. Sometimes you have to force it, but sometimes it flows correctly, depending on the number of cycles. Yeah, basically, yeah, so we'll explain how to count this a second. But I guess the basic idea is that you drums our and four Yeah, and holding down a steady beat. And even if the riff isn't something odd, if yo...

u play it enough times, it will cycle back just thought. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So this is Ah, a little a little graphic that we made to explain it. So if you take this is 5 4/4 4 If you take a look at the top line, that's, um that would be the meter of the drums and the red. The red lines basically signify the ones. And the bottom line would be the refer, the guitar and the bass. And, uh, as you can see, it cycles through that many times. The line back up where we put the arrow and your basis showed me the most brilliant way to Countess. Yeah. So full fingers. Four fingers. 123451231234512345 seconds back. That's like the They understand how that works. Uh, you're counting the rift with your mouth, but you're going through four fingers, pull things with full. Yeah, it counts cycles ever since every 5.44 boss. And that was seven or what? Your whatever. It doesn't really matter, but that's probably the easiest, uh, straightforward way that I've ever seen This stuff explained. Thank you. 20. Yeah, seriously there, Uh, almost embarrassed me that it was hard to understand at times. Um, it's so one thing, though, that Ah, the definitely you guys brought up though, And you just mentioned as wanna touch on it and we'll get into some specifics in a minute is this doesn't always work when you're any polyrhythms like we're going to go through something that's in 25 16. Uh, and so, basically, what's your What's your strategy? When you write something that will not cycle back through when it feels right that you want to finish it, you kind of like TCI and add another be. It was one thing for the riff if it doesn't completely cycle Okay, so you could be there for years. Just playing the same pi over and over 100 bars, which my sugar do not quite that much, but the start of I it's like 32 bars or something. You know, the AP eyes goes on, goes on and on. Yeah, but it works, but yeah, it most people are most bands can't write stuff A schools them toe where they get away with that. But, um, I think I think what's interesting about that. The, um is that lots of times when I how I understand Polly rhythms and their use Or, um, what people have told me is that is there a really, really good tension release device? Um, the five. Like, say, the 54 against the every single time that it cycles through, it gets a little bit more tense. And then when it lines back up on the one, it's ah, it's a great tension release. It's basically, uh, instant tension release device and what you just said about adding or subtracting, Uh, you're basically said that you had to feel when and where where it feels, right? Thio Thio, add or subtract some beats s. Oh, that's something I think we should pay attention to is, uh how much attention is building and where it feels right, Teoh in the next thing. I think they've got to develop their awareness for that. But let's go through um, how you would just construct one of these. Um so basically, you're telling me that, like a lot of your other risks, these will typically be a collection of of smaller fragments just put together in crazy ways. Yeah. So, like, uh, I guess take us through this one, the one that we talked about. Okay, well, we can play if you want. There isn't someone to generate. OK, it's the second riffing. That's where the gap is on Just a guitar. Okay. What are people listening for here? Um, this just the It's a 1 to 13 refugees stand after. Okay, But that's like kind of phrases like that recycled into in a bar phrase. It's just after the guitar gap course. So it's Ah, it's good. And why the stars, the second ref so way Really cool. You know what's interesting to me about times and poly rhythms, and when they're done well, you almost can't really tell. Yep, that's going on. Uh, and if they're done badly, things seem very disjointed and not will put together. Doesn't grieve very well. No, I don't play that again. Just because the groove is so strong that I don't think they will be paying attention to the fact that there's a poet. He's got the 12 things as well. That's cool. Another album. Let's, uh, let's go through this. So basically it's five different things put together for five years for each little segments. Yeah, five seconds. Seven. Repeat the five, and then go to the nine. Okay. Can you show us what they are? So they would be and that's okay. And on them is a rest after it, so it's kind of like a silent. Okay, so we wrote it as open. Yes, I remember. Dead note. Pluck. Yes. So the rest. Yeah. So that was the rest. I haven't blocked on this one, not playing the bass, but that's when you would be doing that 1st 1 All right. 2nd 1 would be Yeah, I think. I guess what people should follow along with then is opens. Yeah. Okay, Um 5 16 again, which is just the 1st And then the 9 16 would be, which is actually been written down too long. Here. Uh, what's in 11. 16 of the 11 9 Same thing. Yeah. Okay. So just everyone should just pretend like there's three zeros. Um, so note that will correct this slide, but Okay, so play through that again. OK, so tell me to play three or four. Uh, yeah. Okay. So okay. Basically, it's the same pattern. Just certain elements are repeated in it, which is not that complicated of, uh, not all. It's actually the way we see is to 13 for the open way, sort of phrase it to each other. Now, that's basically not intimidating at all. Uh, was there ever a time when this kind of stuff challenged you? And what did it take for it to just be, like, part of your style? I don't know. I just kind of came about one day, I guess. Okay? Yeah, but I did. You know, I wrote loads, and those arrested just had absolutely no proof. And I was trying to write odd me. It's for the the sake of it almost. But then when I started thinking about what meter is and I just throw it, then that kind of made it easier. Okay, So just like the numbers between each pilots, the way we see it, so says all That's 5 16 the next 17 16. It made it easier if it was just you focused on one part that repeats. So, basically, uh, it is a natural progression of things would be if it will start writing this stuff first are probably gonna be tinkering around with a bunch of bad shit. Yeah, And, uh but honestly, I think that what really does work about these riffs is when the group is super defines should probably keep that in mind. But I think that just like, uh, just like the atlas rift that we were pointing out and just like every other seemingly complex rift that we've been kind of taking apart, I think that the, uh, the unifying factor here is that there's some anger to it that keeps happening. I think that that anchor is what gives it its groove and what makes it catchy If you didn't basically, if the 5 16 and the 7 16 were just kind of rambling, uh, and didn't have those similar elements that kept on home, I don't think it would work. It wouldn't. It would be nearly is groovy. So, um, let's just play for people one more time and thought, Yeah, yeah, um, on duh thing to be paying attention to their again. It's the anchor, uh, but warm or time to make sure people are paying attention to that. Play through it one more time on your guitar in white being shoes. Okay? And I'll play it now in the song and just be listening. Teoh. Basically, they're repeating as the hook to the whole thing way. Yeah, And then that bit right, the end goes into the next segment, which does the same notes. So just again about motifs. Check that out. Triplets as well to introduce the trip, S O. I mean, And this is how long it once again, I gotta just say that this is from your previous record. Yeah. How long before your current record did this? Two years ago. Okay, So and veteran over two years before that Says right now just 40 years old. But I guess this, uh, Sam techniques are still working back then. Yet the repeating the same ideas in ah different ways, choosing the right anchors and using enough contrast between the sections to where they stand out from each other. One thing that you do really cool in your style is even with all this insanity going on is you tend tohave clean guitars going and sometimes leave guitars going and just a lot of stuff. And it never really sounds cluttered, which I think is super unique. Because typically, when you have a really, really busy guitar riff and then you have a clean roof on top of that, they had a lead on top of that. And then you add vocals on top of that and busy drummer, you know? Yeah, you have my mess. Uh, but that doesn't really happen with you guys. And I think that that has to do with how you construct your clean parts and your lead parts are basically your layers. So wanna go over what your philosophy is for Ah, for that? Um, e, I guess. Ah, speak a song like, uh Okay, well, we can do outlets. That's a good example, actually. Okay, because the the choruses so so many notes on it. It's good just to have a lead part that acts like a pad. Eso just fills out the extra space that's being left by everything else. So in that, particularly partners any to cause you have to remember the cause. Yes, it very simple. Yeah. And what's the other guitar doing the hard way? Basically, the parts air completely contrast ing with each other. Yeah, um, they're not They're not competing for the same, basically competing for the prize once again. Uh, even in progressive music, exactly the opposite of what I was pointing out about this song. Yes, sir. Where the basis ruined ruin these parts is these layers were competing for the same space. And, uh, you know, I just killed a part. I think, uh, one thing that people can really take away from this is that when you start adding mawr elements, where you need to keep in mind is that you're basically you're starting to reach capacity on what the human ear can take in. So you need to make extra sure that they work together and contrast is probably one of the best ways to that. I mean, besides, artistic playing keys basics so I can play this course again, but this time don't play, okay? Just said they could hear the mix. And here try to hear how they work together is actually a clean part in there as well. That is actually the clean part from the middle. That's cool. I didn't even notice that. Yes, that car member, the hot to play with got a lead and a clean. Yeah, the cleans very quiet that I got in fact the leaders to because of the space. But, Theo, last plane in the bridge as well start the bridge. So I think that I think that the key here is also that when you're using lots of layers on the mix is crucial. Really crucial. Yeah. If, uh, this is one place where a song. I don't think I could get past the mix, because if you have these background layers, that air meant to just support the part that you may not even notice that I didn't even notice it that was going on in there. You have all these elements that are supporting something else. If there were to allow they'll ruin the part. Exactly. Another thing is what is Sometimes you don't hear it, but then if you take them out, it's missing a lot. Yeah, that makes total you touched on that yesterday or today. Um, parts that basically serve is served to enhance the feel Exactly the whole thing. Um, let's talk about, uh, your mind has talked about I creator, um, the clean part after the intro verse. Yeah, because, uh, we didn't, uh we really go into that. But I feel like that's a really interesting part. I'm going Teoh skip to that real quick. I think I remember that. That's okay. Let's just talk about it. So basically, there's an intro to the song, and then it goes to a clean verse. Yes, that's what Is that an acoustic? That's cool. So can everyone hear what was going on? Is basically sending Droney, but yet kind of droney actually played during it. It is very cool. It's again. It's completely contrast ing with the rhythm guitars. Um, so, uh, room retired is somewhat busy, and then the queen part is somewhat droning. Yeah, that that's just attention to that. Sorry to the beginning of it. Yeah, And what's interesting is, uh, back to what? I was just talking about the mix being we're now that I have a hearing that super loud, uh, which is the loudest I've ever heard it. It's, uh, it doesn't work as a lead instrument at all, because, uh, it starts. Teoh starts to clash in a way with the vocals, but when it's in there as a droney kind of thing in the background, it works perfectly well one thing that I think a lot of people get too attached to their lead parts and layers. Yep. Oh, that oftentimes. Mixing something. I want all that stuff turned way too loud and a and of ruining songs. But pay attention. This stuff space fit specifically, Uh, the volume at which it's set is a big part of why it works. And were you following the harmony of the rhythm part? Change wise. You know, just what it sounded, right? The time course. Yeah. It sounds like you're doing your own thing. Yeah. So it's not like you sat there, figured out the chords, then made it clean. Pardo that you just played into It was OK, then. Another The sounds pretty right. Cool. So, all by ear, Are there any questions or should we, uh, skip into just, ah, John's outro trick? Um, Mark Zero. As a question. Do you think all songs should build up to the course and ultimately build up to the end of the song or do something different? Is there like a Are there any No knows, I guess with putting that together in structuring the dynamics. Uh, well, um, in a way one of the songs that we looked at earlier, the choruses were smaller than the verses of the pre courses. So which is unusual? It's unusual, but I think that building of isn't the point. I think the point is setting it up and, uh, having enough contrast to where attention is resolved but doesn't necessarily have to be achieved with the buildup. But if he if what he means is that S O if it's cool of sauce, kind of follow a flatline, dynamically and arrangement wise, intentional was personally, I don't think so. Uh, sure, there's an example out there of a song that follows one idea, and it's cool, but I have heard it go. Good example. Actually, for a different course, it's the new song you did. The course is actually technically lower than everything else, but it sounds bigger. Yeah, it's the guitars get taken out completely, and it's just a piano with the bass and drums, right? Yeah, that's the course. So I consider that that, of course, yeah. Uh, but it's set up. It's weird because it's it sounds bigger than everything else, but it's not, and it's set up by the Ultra heavy guitar removed. Yet it's definitely a really well composed part, but I think it's about the contrast of the tension release, not about which is not always the same thing. Is it build up? Yeah, I think lots of times I get songs with people that are like versus one speed pre course is, like, faster. And the chorus is the fastest. Oh, are you know, some some variation thereof that just doesn't always work to do it that way. I think it's not looking at the deeper picture, which is tension release anything else? Well, they know what? We just spend three minutes talking about your out Your, uh your mega drift outro trick cause we have we have three minutes to spare that. So, uh, basically, uh, one more thing that you can do to make your outro work. This is basic. This is like a, uh, like the ultimate example of summarising everything in the context of the song that is actually kind of the bridge rather than the actual. But it does work out. Toaster? Yeah, s Oh, what is this? Basically it's a piece of every single riff in the song put together into one bigger riff. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so I'm play through it on the record and just show us what's going on after that Captures, then this guy, it's after that. I think that it's OK. I just wanted to illustrate the concept. Like how? How would you put together this many parts from this many different riffs and make it work? What's the criteria, really, that what you're looking for? Just parts the kind of memorable. So, for example, if I play the verse, it's It's quite simple. Rivers with the same notes just in a different way, just kind of like taking the verse, The refs. The intro is on the songs, and then I use basically you're taking what you think are your favorite, most memorable parts of every riff cutting those out and somehow making them work together. So, you know, uh, we don't have time to get into it any further than that, but there's something for people to explore, and, uh, it's real quick. I thank everyone for ah, for having me and for letting us do this and for paying attention for you, for flying out all this way and make it three, but it's been awesome. I think with this last section especially, is ah, lot of, Ah, a lot of notes and a lot of parts. And it's not that I don't think it's something that people can really, uh, I guess internalized on the 1st 1st viewing or first listen. But the point of it all watch it again and really take the stuff in. Is that same stuff that he does is what every other guests that I had on here doesn't there somehow even Todd from Nails, which is really, really simple compared to this to, ah, demon hunter to Ah, my friend Pat that works in pop music like basic techniques are the same, the genres different, but that's Ah, that doesn't matter. That's all taste.

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.