Polyrhythms and Layering


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

Polyrhythms and Layering

There's a really cool because this is to me personally there's something that I've always pretty much sucked at except for when you know I've written on meter riff or color of them by accident and it's worked um and this intimidates a lot of people think it's a very scary thing for la musicians because 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. So let's go through some of the the basic things that you guys generally do you saying that for the most part, even if you got an odd meter riff still works into four four yeah, sometimes you have to force it, but sometimes it flows correctly depending on the number of circles. Yeah, basically so we'll explain how to count this in a second. But I guess the basic idea is that the drums are for holding down a steady beat and even if the riff isn't something odd, if you play it enough times people cycle back to th...

e start yeah, exactly exactly so this is ahh little a little graphic that we made to explain it, so if you take this is five for over four for if you take a look at the top line that's 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 ref for the guitar and the bass and you can see it cycles through that many times the line back off we put the arrow and your basis showed me the most brilliant way to countess yeah four fingers four fingers don't want two three four five one two three one two three four five one two three four five cycles back there that's like the they don't 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 everybody five point four for bars and pool and there was seven or where you're 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 sonny yeah and seriously there uh almost embarrassed me that it was hard to understand at times um eso one thing though that that definitely you guys brought up though and you just mentioned it's wantto touch on it and we'll get into some specifics in a minute is this doesn't always work when you were running polyrhythms like we're going to go through something that's in twenty five sixteen uh eso 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 cheating at another b it was something on the riff it doesn't completely cycle okay, so you could be there for years just playing the same pie over and over one hundred bath which my sugar do not quite that much but the start I it's like thirty two bars or something you know the fbi's goes on goes on and on yeah, but it works yeah, it most people are most bands can't write stuff a school's 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 on a how I understand polly rhythms and their use or what people have told me is that is there a really, really good tension release device? Um the file like, say, the five four against the four for uh 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 on instant tension release device and what you just said about adding or subtracting uh you're basically said that you had to feel winning where where it feels right tio to add or subtract some beats so that's something I think we should pay attention to is uh how much attention is building and where it feels right teo the next day I think they've got to develop their awareness for that, but let's go through how you would just construct one of these um so basically you're telling me that like a lot of your other risk, diesel will typically be a collection of smaller fragments just put together in crazy ways so like, I guess take us through this one the one that we talked about ok, well, we can play if you want there is in some way to generate ok it's the second riff it it's where the gap is I'm just a guitar. Okay, what are people listening for here? This just the one, two one three refuge on stand after okay, but that's like kind of phrases like like that recycled into an ape or phrase it's just after they get our gap of course so it's uh it's good and why the stars the second draft? So wait it's really cool, you know what's interesting to me about times and polly rhythms and when they're done well, you almost can't really tell yet that's going on and if they're done badly, things seem very disjointed and we'll put together doesn't grow very well no, I don't play that again just because the groove is so strong that I don't think I won't be paying attention to the fact that there's a publisher has got the one to think well that's cool and it's on a whole other album wait all right let's uh let's go through this so basically it's five different things put together for five years for each little segment yes five seconds seven repeat five and then go to the ninth okay can you show us what they are yeah so they would be and as okay on his arrest after 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 thought of this but not playing bass yeah that's one way of doing that first one second one would be yeah, I think I guess what people should follow along with them is opens yeah. Okay um five sixteen again, which is just the first one and then the nine sixteen would be which is actually been written down too long here uh eleven sixteen of them the eleven nine same thing. Yeah. Okay, so just sarah should just pretend like there's three zero rose so I know that will correct the slide, but okay, so play through that again, okay, so you want to play three or four uh yeah, okay course basically it's the same pattern just certain elements are repeated and which is not that complicated of not all it's actually the way we see is one two one three for the open way that's how we raise it to each other now that it'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, I did you know, I wrote loads and those arrested just had absolutely no crew and I'm just trying to write odd me is for the sake of it almost but then when I stopped thinking about what meters and I just throw it then that kind of made it easier okay? So I just like the numbers between each pilots the way we see it. So so that's five sixteen the next one seven sixteen it may be easier if it was just you focused on one part that repeats so basically is a natural progression of things would be if we'll start writing this stuff first are probably going to 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 groove is super defined so she probably keep that in mind but I think that just like just like the atlas riff that were pointing out just like every other seemingly complex riff that we've been kind of taking apart I think that the the unifying factor here is that there's some anchor to it that keeps happening and I think that the anchor is what gives it its groove and what makes it catchy if you didn't basically is the five sixteen and the seven sixteen were just kind of rambling uh and didn't have those similar elements that kept on going home I don't think it would work it wouldn't it wouldn't be nearly as groovy so um let's just play for people one more time and, uh wait um on da thing to be paying attention to their again is the anchor one more times to make sure people are paying attention to that through it one more time on your guitar like being shoed yeah okay and I'll play it now in the song and just be listening teo basically the repeating is the hook to the whole thing wait and then that bit right the end goes into the next segment which does the same note so just again about motifs that was that not there no doubt especially in tripolis as well to introduce the triplets s o I mean and this is how long it once again I gotta just say that this is from a previous record yeah how long before your current record of this company two years ago. Okay, so and but it was here in over two years before that says you're in for just four years old but I guess it's uh santa thinks they're still working back then yes the repeating the same ideas in a different ways choosing the right anchors and using enough contrast between the sections to are 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 to have 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 really really busy guitar riff and then you had 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 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 wantto go over what your philosophy is for, uh for that I guess uh let's pick a song like uh okay waken doubt that's that's a good example actually okay, because the chorus is so so many notes on it it's good just to have a lead part that acts like a pad so just fills out the extra space that's being left by everything else so in that particularly partners any to cause have to remember the course so one second very simple yeah and what's the other guitar doing uh the charges it's quite a pay part, so basically the parts were completely contrasting with each other. Yeah, they're not they're not competing for the same. Basically competing for the prize once again, even in progressive music is exactly the opposite of what I was pointing out about this song. Yes, sir, where the base is ruined ruin these parts is these layers were competing for the same space and, you know, just kill the part. I think one thing that people can really take away from this is that when you start adding mohr 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 sewing to make extra sure that they work together and contrast is probably one of the best ways up to the I mean, besides are playing key basics, so I can't play this course again, but this time don't play okay just said they could hear the mix yet and here try to hear how they work together there's actually a clean part in there as well is actually the clean part from the middle that's cool I didn't even notice that got a lead and a clean yeah, that cleans very quietly going about the leaders too because of you the space but theo last plane in the bridges well, start the bridge so I think that I think the key here is also that when using lots of layers on the mix is a crucial really crucial yeah if, uh this is the 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 because 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 two loud, they'll ruin the part exactly another thing is that sometimes you don't hear it, but then if you take them out it's missing a lot yeah, that makes sense till you touched on that yesterday or today parts that basically serve is served to enhance the field they started the whole thing um let's talk about your mind was talked about I creator the clean part after the intro verse because way really go into that, but I feel like that's a really interesting part okay, I'm going tio let's get to that real quick. I think I remember that hot 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 that's cool. So can everyone hear what was going on? Basically something that drawing but yet kind of droney cash remember how flattering it sze? Very cool. It's uh, again, it's completely contrast ing with the retired s o uh, room entire, somewhat busy and then the clean part is somewhat droney again that that's just get attention of that. Get in the way and what's interesting is, uh back to what I was just talking about the mix being we're now that I'm hearing that super loud, which is the loudest I've ever heard it it's it doesn't work as a lead instrument at all because it starts. Teo 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 leader parts and layers oh, that oftentimes mixing something want all that stuff turned way to er and a ruining songs, but if you should pay attention, this stuff spit spit specifically uh the volume at which it set is a big part of why it works and were you following the harmony of the rhythm part change wise I just want a sounded right the time course yes sound like you're doing your own thing yeah. So it's not like you sat there and figured out the cords then made a clean part no and then she just played into that was ok then another the sounds pretty right cool so all by ear uh are there any questions or should we, uh, skip into just, uh john's outro trick? Um mark zero as a question do you think all song should build up to the course and ultimately build up to the end of the song um or do something different is there like a are there any no nose? I guess with putting that together and 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 chorus is so which is unusual it's unusual, but I think that building of isn't the point within the point is setting it up and having enough contrast to where attention is resolved it doesn't necessarily have to be achieved buildup, but if he is what he means is that uh uh so 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 different courses the mu song he did the chorus is actually technically lower than everything else but it sounds bigger yeah guitars get taken out completely and it's just a piano with the bass and drums right? Yeah that's the chorus so I consider that horse and I think that's the course toe yeah uh but it's set up it's weird because it sounds 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 attention at least you're not a 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 three courses is like faster and the chorus is the fastest o r you know some some variation thereof 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 then why don't we just spend three minutes talking about your out? Your your mega griff outro trick is we have we have three minutes to spare that so basically uh one more thing that you can do to make your outro work it is. This is basically this is like a and I like the ultimate example of summarizing everything, all right. And in the context of the song that is actually kind of the bridge rather than the actual, but it does work out trust. Yeah, s so what is this? Yeah, basically it's a piece of every single reform the song put together into one bigger rift. Yeah. Okay. So I can play through it on the record. And I'm just, uh, show us, uh, what's going on after that caps with them. This guy it's after that, I think. Okay, it's okay, I just want to illustrate the concept. Like how how would you put together this many parts from this many different wrists and make it work? What's the criteria? Really? What are you looking for? Just parts that kind of memorable. So for example, if I play the verse it's it's quite simple, rivers five, four four for which you were talking about earlier and then for the rest of the same notes just in a different way. Just kind of like taking the verse there, yes, uh, the intro is on the song, etcetera, and then I use so, 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, way don't have time to get into it any further than that, but this is something for people to explore and, er yes, ah, real quick. Well, 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 making me, but it has been awesome, I think, with this last section especially is ah lot of 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, I guess, internalized on the first first viewing of first listen, but the point of it all watch it again and really take this stuff in is that same stuff that he does is what every other guests that I had on here doesn't there something that we've been taught from nails, which is really, really simple compared to this tio demon hunter tio, my friend pat, that works in pop music like basic techniques are the same. The genres are 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.


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!