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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 4 of 28

Remove Creative Barriers

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

4. Remove Creative Barriers

Lesson Info

Remove Creative Barriers

one thing that I've talked about a lot in, ah recording blog's for creative lives or whatever is that prep is super important. Um, you don't go into the student making album without pre pro, just like your engineers shouldn't get ready. Teoh record you without having templates set up and things of that nature. You don't go to a studio without strings or whatever so much in the same way. I think prepping your writing it's super important. And if you prep for your writing, your actual writing sessions will go way smoother. Whereas if you're super disorganized, it will be a lot harder to come to the good ideas. So and talk about prep really quick. Um, we're gonna talk about prepping your hands. Uh, most people don't write with their with their head, I guess. Ah, everybody knows about the, uh, I guess the myth about most art writing symphonies, well, dancing with women and then going home and writing all that shit down. Note for note generally doesn't happen. Most people play an instrument...

and right through their instrument, so it's important to maybe not be a shredder, but ah be loose enough with your instrument toe where your physical body isn't a barrier to your creativity so we can talk about that real quick. Uh, I think being creative also is something that you can channel. Um, and the more you do it, the easier it gets Our talk about getting into that zone, uh, mawr more often it's not. I don't think it's really like you see in movies where kind of like the most art example where some genius dude kind of has this inspiration while he's doing something completely unrelated and it comes back to wherever he makes music and it all just like shits out of him perfectly. I know one person like that, uh, but I know a lot of people who make music, And I only know one person like that who, uh, whose ideas come out and finish form. Um, it's probably not most of you, so I think, uh, ready to talk? Teoh stir Todd Jones. I think before we get going, we, uh I should probably just let everyone know that I think that this is going to go over into the next segment as well. Um, I think this is gonna be a two part deal. Um, so we'll start talking about your stuff in just a second. Um, I, uh I talked with you quite a bit, you know, leading up to this structuring this, that we just wouldn't be rambling incoherently about heavy s riffs and stuff. There's like, there's some structure to what we're going to talk about. And, uh, I want Teoh. I just want to bring some of this stuff up. It's one of the things that you said to me while we were talking is that you need to be inspired by what you're working on, which I think is really, really interesting because I don't think that you should only work when you're inspired. However, what you said, I think it's super true that you should only work on stuff that inspires you. And there's a big difference between that. Yeah, angry. So I I'll get inspired and I'll go in my room and play my guitar and all work towards something that I have a ride. The m I have every song for me starts out with just one raw idea, like I want to have a course. It sounds like this. I want to have a verse that starts like someone have a song. That's the intros like this, you know, whatever the idea is, I have this wrong idea. I go on my I go in my room and try to work it out on my guitar. Now, if sometimes something good will happen, sometimes something not good will happen. And, um, all the eventually stop playing guitar and I'll come back to it later. Now you could Onley play guitar when you're inspired. But you could Onley write songs when you're inspired, but when you're not inspired, there's things that you could do to potentially help you for when you are inspired and you could write a song. One thing I like to do is I like to learn other people's songs, maybe not necessarily songs by bands that my being sounds like, but just anything that I think sounds interesting, like where they're being Megadeth, tomato y you know. I mean, if I if I hear a riff, that sounds interesting and I'm just not feeling it that day, but I want to play guitar. Um, you know, I'll go out and learn another song. Sometimes all make a riff out of my own. I'll make a riff. I'll make a refer myself. That is kind of in the plain style of somebody else's rift. You mean like all Koreans, something at somebody else's thing, which isn't necessarily stealing, But it's, you know, it's just being inspired from work. It's interesting that you bring it up like that, cause actually, I have a lot prepared to talk about on that topic. I actually agree with you 100% that, um, number one you can't control when you're gonna be feeling inspiring creative. And that doesn't mean that you can't be working on music like the whole craft side of writing. Um, that's what you should be working on when you're not, when you're just not feeling like the light bulb has turned on. That is the perfect time to be like you said, learning other people stuff like working on whatever getting better chord progressions or whatever it is you want to work on riffs because I guess, Ah, in my opinion, when your creativity does turn on, you should drop everything that you're doing and take advantage. Absolutely. I agree, and one of the worst things you could do is go to say, Hey, you know, I'm not feeling good right now, but I'm gonna go sit down. I'm gonna write a song, and then you go You said You play guitar. Everything sounds bad to you. And you walk away from your guitar just feeling like crowd like, man, I I stink. I saw it. I can't write a tune, you know, in your whole day, Like, I don't know if you're like a very emotional person that might ruin your whole day and that's don't do are weak or weaker It my even, I mean, maybe might end up offing yourself. I don't know, but, you know, don't do that if you if you want to play guitar, But you're not feeling like write a tune, you know, go play guitar, play the things, you know, maybe go learn some other riffs or something. Do something at least pleases you. I wish there was a way to understand this, uh, this thing. And, uh, I just called this thing cause I don't know what to call it, but I've always wondered about it. Like when I look at a fretboard and I just absolutely seen nothing like it doesn't like it doesn't make sense to me how on awesome riff could come out of that thing. It just is like a blank piece of wood. And then other times it's like ideas just can't stop happening. And I've actually made the mistake. I don't really let myself make this mistake anymore. Sure I have recently, but I really, really try not to. Is if, say, I'm practicing something non creative, like scales or something. Um, and I have a set amount of time there in a work on it, like 20 minutes just for instance. And at about 13 or 14 minutes, my creativity kicks on and my A D D kicks in and cool shit starts happening. And I make myself finished practicing because I feel like I have to. And then by the time I've done that, creativity is gone. That's not good. That's not good at all. I don't know how many awesome songs I've ah, let go by the wayside by doing that, but, um, one of things. I think it's super important and says to do with self awareness like you were saying earlier, is you need to be ready to pounce as soon as that happens, the Sooners that creativity strikes need to be ready to go. Absolutely. Yeah, totally. There's, um I don't know. I honestly think that you should set your whole life up around it if you're a writer. Uh, Paul McCartney said that his best ideas came often, like, was about to fall asleep, And I actually got an idea for this class, right? A two days ago when I was about to take a nap, Almost fell sleep and ban the way to present something just came in. I've had lots of ideas happen that way. I know a lot of creatives get their best ideas. When is most inconvenient? Um, Dimebag Darrell from Pantera here. The guitar set up in this bathroom so he would just sit on the toilet. Li I like you hear you read about that? Yeah, The I totally remember reading about that. Do that for negative to used to say that. Yeah. I mean, if that's what works for you and then get it done. Set it up. I think, Um I mean, do you have Ah. Do you have anything set up by your bed? No, I have Ah. You know I have a house of a four bedroom house. So, uh, I have a bedroom that's mine Has all my records and my music stuff in there. So I have a guitar and an amp. And, uh, you know, you discussed earlier about having making sure, like, you know, if you're gonna right, you know, metal, make sure you're playing with distortion. So have a nice set up. I have. Ah, nice. You know, I have a good crushing tone and, you know, if I'm watching TV or if I'm in another room, I just want to run in that room and play guitar. Try to try to get what I can do is readily accessible. Absolutely. Yeah, that's I think that's super important. I think that that seems super basic and almost, um, like, Why are you telling us that? But I've had lots of, like, one on one consultation clients or writing students who don't do that. And I mean people. People put their guitars in their cases when they're not using it. Yeah, it's like, That's That's no good. You gotta be able to pull that thing out and play it exactly. I mean, if if you have all these barriers to writing set up by the time you actually get going with the tone, don't gone. Um and, you know, I guess the thing that we can't teach in a class like this is which idea is a good idea or how to make a good idea? But we can say that if you're not ready to capture when, Ah, when it happens, you're probably not going. Teoh capture very good stuff. And, uh, I don't know if you guys follow a blogged that I've kept going for a few years not too much lately, but still, it's a few years deep on metal sucks called Ah, jumping darkness parade. And I think a year or two ago I actually wrote about this topic of creating all the time versus creating only one inspired. And, uh, what I mean by creating, isn't it seems like it would be in ah contrast toe, but we've just been talking about, but it's not. What I mean by creating is doing something musical. Whether you're creating the knowledge of room new riff Uh, you know, even if you're not making a song, you're still Ah, you're still doing something creative by learning a refer, working on something technical or whatever, the more often you do these things and the more it becomes have it the more often that you're gonna put out good stuff. You know, nobody bats so the less often you do it, you might still get good stuff, but really less of it. And I think that writing good songs that people like definitely is a numbers game. So, um, talk about recording all your ideas. Do you do that? Yeah, absolutely. You know, I always have my IPhone on me at all times. So if I'm in the car, um, or not work, if I have an idea, have you know my voice? Memo Typically occasion, which I really use. But I used my note pad so I could write down notes, whether sometimes I have what I believe to be good song titles or like, you know, I'll hear a song. Some of the inspiration that comes to me is I'll be listened to somebody else's song and I'll be like, You know what? I really like this part, but I feel like I could change some stuff around and make it into my own, You know, Not like straight up stealing it. But you have a bedroom set up. It's your IPhone. Yeah, I suppose so. Yeah. Yeah. I think most people I know who come up with good shit. Uh, obviously, you can't carry a guitar with you everywhere you go. You mean as far as our recording set up? Because I actually do that, too. You carry guitar everywhere you go. Oh, no, I don't carry guitar. But as far when you said bedroom set up, it made me think of. You know, I have my Mac book and I have a this microphone. I think it's called Snowball. It's by a company called Blue or by the company Snowball. And it's called Blue Was He is a $60 microphone, USB Just plug in using GarageBand. And I have that my bedroom. And it's crucial. Well, that's Ah, that's a better version of what I meant. What? I don't Sorry. What? No, no, that's great. What I meant by bedroom set up is something other than like a legit recording rig. Like just something to get your ideas down with. Whether it's your that or your IPhone or whatever. Um, it's just not convenient to always have your riel pre pro set up around you can't have, like, you know, if you do a laptop and speakers like these and one of these, uh, Anna Kemper, which is what I'm looking around. I mean, I have a lot of the same stuff, and a lot of guys I know have a lot of the same stuff, but you can take this everywhere with you. You can't take this out to dinner or like Kant. Yeah, follows. Great phone is fantastic. And there's lots of, ah, you need toe. If you can't sing worth a shit and you have to do everything with the guitar you can get like JAMA pro or whatever. There's there's a bunch of ways to do it. But I think that the the point is that if you want to get the most out of your writing, you need to be ready to capture your ideas whenever they happen, wherever they may happen. Odds are you're not Mozart. I mean, you might be, but mostly the audience probably aren't. And if you are that good, then why are you watching this class? Honestly, should be writing a symphony or something. Um, if if you're that awesome, there's probably nothing that we can say that will help. But if you're not that awesome, should probably be recording your ideas all the time. Now, um, this is Ah, this is more for the recording guys. But I think that anybody who ah has a d w should do this. Um, you should have a writing template. Basically, this is really obvious, but the reason Teoh have a template is so that you don't have to set your shit up every single time. You have a right. I think the the key here is that your eliminating barriers to your creativity the minute you get an idea going to be able to get it down. Uh, you don't want to initiate tracks and route groups together and set up the eyes and make sure you're affects her there and then load easy, drummer, and go through all that shit every time. You might have an idea and needs to be good to go. And the more time you spend getting your template efficient, the less time you're going to spend on both in the same goes from mixing and recording, but especially with writing. In my opinion, um, I think that the key with a good template is too. Basically, try to for see everything that you might do. Like if you're in a two guitar band that has drums, vocals, bass, then that's what your temple should include. If you're in a band that's got orchestra, it should have orchestra. But if you're in a band, that's just two guitars, vocals, bass drums Don't start adding a bunch of shit because another barrier, your creativity will be, ah, if your computer can handle it. So the line you gotta walk is having it be broad enough to cover all your possible ideas but not so broad that you can't recorded a low buffer setting. Um, anybody that knows anybody here wondering what a low buffer setting is all about. Okay. Okay, Cool. Awesome. Uh, I'm not gonna demo the writing template just because we're we won't actually get to tell his music. Yeah, just one thing is gonna add, because you're talking about having, like, a template session set up stuff. It's nice to have a pretty good sounding stuff, like again. You don't have a terrible guitar. You can write to it in pretty good drums and stuff, but I've always kind of almost liked my pre pro, not being like knowing that it's not gonna be as good as the real recordings are because he spent too much time on your demos. You get end up getting, like, really attached to a version of something like, maybe more attached than you should be almost. I kind of like having pre pro good enough. I can get the emotion out of it. I can feel inspired. I could get that all done. But then, when it comes time to do stuff for Riel, you know, when you have new strings on every every guitar for every song and like you're taking all those extra steps to really make something good, then it's like it's almost inspiring all over again to have, like it, feel like an amped up version of the pre pro. You know, rather than being like man, I'm just trying to recapture the glory of my pre pro. It's almost more like Okay, I'm taking something I like, and now we're making it even better. It's definitely fun, I think. Well, that's actually, something that I think a lot of do seem to be aware of not doing is to stop writing and start mixing. Um, a lot of dudes do that is like the writer refer to And then just for some reason, forget that they're writing and just start trying to tweak the way it sounds. And then again, creativity gone, Uh, you through ideas at the window and you're focusing on mixing I'm not writing. And that's just that's, um I think that's a waste of waste of time, because you're probably gonna re record it anyways. But I think that it should definitely sound good enough to where it doesn't make you want to kill yourself. Um, one of the things that the one on one clients have had do wrong often is have horrible sounding free pro like so bad that you can't really tell what's going on. And it's just I mean, what? How are you gonna like, get into working on that or into taking it further? It just sounds like garbage to track products are fantastic for that, Uh, the, um easy mix. Easy drummer. Easy keys. Easy terms. Great. Just fast. Just had recurrent. Yeah, I know. You did a sweet class on that. Awesome. Yeah, they're They're stuff is great. I'm actually gonna talk about easy keys, uh, in the next two days, but, um, their stuff is great. And, um, just being able to click a preset and having it sound pretty damn close is a wonderful thing. Maybe it's not. You know, that's not how you're gonna actually makes a final product, but it's good enough for pre pro. You have to say something. Yeah, um, I like the the theme here of minimizing the amount of time you have to get you minimizing the amount of time you're spending before you actually record your idea. And, um, and minimizing the amount of extra work you're doing, which is probably distracting on. I guess it's something that I haven't really focused on until very recently. Um, because I just kind of thought it was always something that Oh, yeah, of course I can do that. Is learning how to play with a click? Well, that's pretty important. Yeah, like I I mean, because I've always really just played with the drummers. And when I would record what I would record ideas. I try to pick some rumor that drama is playing too. Yeah, um, but the the time, you know, raw either finding a loop, you know, getting the, you know, So you can have the eight beats. So you're not, you know that it was just too much distracting time. And it's and I don't know if it's just because, you know, relying on, you know, four beats of time rather than eight beats of time. But it's something that I thought I would just be automatically good at. But it is funny. I had to take time. Toe really knows. It's not something that people are automatically good at. And, uh, it's because music, in my opinion, music doesn't want to be one constant tempo. So it's gotta have inflow. But I do think I do believe in using it. Clipped track, obviously. But, uh, I think that the superior use of a click trick is to customize it for the song toe where it gets. Maybe it's not zigzagging during riffs like a drummer that can't play, but, you know, uh, Riff wants to get faster, it goes up. If the rift wants to get slower, it follows the natural, the natural ebb and flow of where music wants to go now. I don't think that that's a requirement for every band. Some bands just kick ass without a click. It's not that many, though. It's rare. There's gotta be a really awesome, uh, really awesome feel that they generate going on. I think that's one of those that's just one of those rare magical things that just not very common.

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.