Rhythmic Variations Exercise


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

Rhythmic Variations Exercise

These exercises, we're going to go over a bunch of like different different things, like you're having a problem try this on one thing that I want to keep him minder lets keep in mind that I'm not talking about art right now, and the exercises aren't even that complicated at all. Like one comment that that I saw yesterday feedback wise on the air net was that weren't really getting into stuff that's too deep, but thea, the thing that I think the audience for this and the upcoming writers need to kind of realise is that none of this stuff is too deep on the surface. If you get to mathematical about this stuff, you get away from what's important about music, which is how you hit the audience in a visceral way, like about eliciting an emotional reaction and making the most out of simple elements is super deep that that's where the real talent is, most people can sit there and add notes and add nose and add notes, and had notes and study complex harmony and and make a super, super complex ...

but meaningless piece. It takes a truly skilled, onda amazing writer to take four simple ideas and write something that sticks around through the ages and resonates with people from all walks of life, and I think that that's the goal of writing so anyways, these exercises they're going to be somewhat simple but don't don't be enough will try them uh on especially if you're finding that you're having problems is with your stuff sounding the same too much which is the biggest problems with metal everything sounding exactly the same or of your finding you're having trouble structuring parts or coming of with motifs just try these again these exercises are not not art these are just little things to get your brain going and uh one other distinction that I want to make about thes is, um what you actually write when you're doing these exercises is probably going to be a total load of crap uh it's not what you write when you're doing these isn't the point the point is basically you said training your brain um if you do a bunch of variation exercises and you just try to see how many different ways you can present a different rhythm pattern well maybe the rhythm patterns sucked in the first place but that's not the point the point is that your brain is already in the habit of doing that. So um let's uh talk about first thing which is um inspired writing versus rang when inspired um we touched on it yesterday, but uh this is super important todd talked about this quite a bit, but when uh when you're not feeling like writing and nothing is happening uh this is probably the best time to be trying these out uh don't don't be bothering with ease when your lightbulb is on and that's that's ah super important and like pat was saying you put in maybe the ten or fifteen minutes on exercises before is ready to write don't spend too long on shit like pick one do it for ten minutes and er or two and and the goal is that by the time you get through them you should be already into your own writing so what's the motif um basically, uh lots of people confused motifs and themes and ah motif is a much smaller musical fragment uh that can be put together to make a theme but it's just basically a gn idea in its ah smallest state. So I think that the best way to illustrate this is to show some super famous examples of motifs being used to basically define a piece of music so let's first take a look at the michigan song bleed for anyone that follows me sugar this is songs got popular not too long ago but um see, if you guys can spot the motif I'm gonna ask you guys in a once we hear this if you guys know what I'm saying, wait, so what do us think the motif is there, karen I don't know if I've never really thought of the word motif before considered it so if what if what? I understand this correctly you're saying it's like little that's a little repetitive thing that you build with so I don't know how small you would break it down is it just a little trip kind of pattern that sort of doesn't really grow up that same pattern that goes prima throughout the whole song and it's just repeated and then inverted and shown every which way that's it? The motive is not how that pattern has changed it's just that one little spark fireman one thing I love about this song to you is that like, if you're listening really casually you think it's just kind of like minutes and minutes of the same thing, you know, but it's totally not a little thing that kind of gets like we'll get skewed a little bit the second time through and like it's really, really cool if you're actually paying attention that's why this is a perfect example to illustrate with that is because everybody does think on casual listen that's just one little thing and it's a variation of one little thing but that za perfect example motif is and here's another one that everybody should know see of you has conspired this one I ask you for you on the spot for this one yeah so what do you think the motif is in that well the every day everything is there's there's a higher note there's a lower note and there's a higher note and there's lower no depending so the the kind of pivot point or the index might move but there's always uh something kind of going down and then jumping to another high place than going going down jumping to another high place um yeah ah doesn't sitting in sets of four s o I guess harmonically or tonic lee that's what it's doing I think you're overthinking it what I think it's just that rhythm pattern that a yeah because regardless of what's going on harmonically or melodically that rhythm pattern is pretty much what defines that entire theme and listen to it again it's that rhythm pattern is what's happening just just like in the machine a song you know at least five years apart from when they were written and I say it's the rhythm pattern because you see right there when they start doing the call in response someone we're going up so it's not that the melodic motion goes down I think it's the just the simple pattern yeah like just like in the miss sugar science just that tiny little fragment that masters in their own respective time periods and genres took and turned into music that people really I really love one just a brutal ass metal song that is basically a metal hit if you want to call it that and others one of the most famous classical pieces of all time but literally they're just ah the same little fragment developed over and over and over and over and over and over and again this stuff may not seem deep but it tried doing it um everything's that this stuff's not deep and his writing stuff on the level of miss sugar beethoven probably doesn't need to be washing his class anyway pro should be giving the class s so let's talk about rhythmic variations and like a keynote so be cool um so basically what this is showing is that you can take a seemingly mundane pattern don't I did whatever I can't sing the machete one but you know darn that turned whatever you could take a seemingly mundane pattern and have you very it enough and if if you develop it enough you can have a really cool piece of music and that's all it takes is starting with that little fragment you don't need a million different ideas one idea done a million different ways so here's a few different rhythmic variations I made um basically the idea is this you just set a very tight constraint like you say you make four bars of eighth notes and quarter notes like downton on dh whatever don't and don't and don't and don't it doesn't matter just decide what it's going to be and make make a few bars of it so I made this that's it on dh if I was doing this exercise I would just figure out ten different ways to do that and that's it as you can see from those musical examples that's all you need now it was trying to write something more badass. Maybe I would set the constraints a little differently like ghost sixteenth notes or something but still during this exercise I would I would stick on ly to the constraints that I said so sixteen days and maybe that could turn into something um and the more of these you make obviously the higher uh I guess the higher chance that you're going to come up with something cool so get the keynote back, please. Um uh another thing to try basically is you should go through as many different rhythmical subdivisions as possible and don't forget to throw in rests. It was another thing that you meddled doos need toe realizes that rests her good thing I made another one and again I don't know turn it into a song or not but that's exactly the point of the exercise. All right, so whatever not redefined the wheel there, but basically I've got three three somewhat different rhythmic motifs that are all just based on some constraints that I came up with, which I could then use to get started with something and to come up with that you don't need to be feeling inspired or awesome or anything like that you can just say I'm going to come up with something with a thousand quarters and eighth notes and quarters until you have something that sounds somewhat decent early you gonna take it to the next level? Any questions on that one all right something specifically let's keep prison cool just uh you say a little further so basically you pick the parent you like uh this this goes back to preceding kind of like we're talking about with ryan yesterday uh once you pick the pattern that you like then trying to come up with a cz many uh variations of it as possible so say that the idea was I want to get better at rhythmic variations and eventually I would like tio write something as cool as that mischievous saw and uh I really write that kind of music so I'm not interested in that but really bringing that up because they are pretty cool and because so many people these days try to write like them seems appropriate uh think just about every new band I hear these days is some sort of a rip off of me suga in some way shape or form so fear may try to synthesize a little bit of what what I think they do because a lot of people think that their space aliens because they're so good so yeah, and try to come up with so many different versions as possible so here I've got rhythm example for which is just a variation off of example one they show us one and right here and I'm gonna put you guys on the spot to see if you can spot what the motif is this's number one all right, here's number four either of you think you know what it is a chance I think but it just sounds like dun dun dun dun dun dun can't came in with rhythm was exactly but it's just a short little you know yeah but then you repeat the little nigga done decadent twice every now that so yeah thats the variation the gotcha that's that that's the variation it's all just based off this was the little motif I came up with what a cool stuff quarter quarter a faith or that's it uh and just how many different ways can you take and do something with it and that and it's not exactly that this rhythm exam apple is the rhythm example is going to redefine metal or anything like that but it's about getting to the discipline of taking a fragment like that and building a section out of it so again just so you guys here it's just this done a few ways all right? So basically, if you write a little tiny motif like that and then paste it around to make your riff and then sent it off to be mixed makes you actually play it as a complete thing instead of a low yeah hackneyed that happens a lot I actually played those uh the uh yeah it sounds like garbage when people do that and thanks for actually saying that because I think that that constructing constructing patterns uh through copy paste like this defeats the purpose of the exercise because, um the purpose of the exercise again isn't too right a song it's to train your brain tio start thinking of variations so if you just come up with the motif and you copy paste it into a million different things you're not training your brain uh and it's it's possible you might come up with something cool but it's also entirely possible that you're going to be no better than you were when you first wrote your motif and urine pisser mixer off because they have a really hard time getting a good guitar sound is going to sound like coffee tasted many notes um so the way that I would take this further and uh basically vika have the kino back um is take a look at um music that you like that that already does this this goes back to the song analysis that we talked about before like say you want to get good at this particular skill well then maybe analyzed the beethoven symphony or the uh the miss suga song so this wasn't in the sugar side again after going through that exercise wait wait wait um this anything I'm sure is gonna be tough to actually figure out howto play but it's not that tough to analyze and for instance if I was doing an analysis of this I would point out that right here on this break it's still that motif just kind of turned around indifferent nothing it's not different saying it's the exact same thing very tight constraints very a very simple pattern just played backwards and I would do an analysis of this song and ah literally figure out how many different which ways that one tiny idea gets developed and ah you see how many different versions of your own motif you khun come up with and uh I would at the very least once you once you get to the point of having a bunch of them do your best to come up with a song based on the idea and I would definitely differentiate between uh a good song and an exercise song but I would still do it if playing ah this style medals not your thing though you're not in a band this influence by my shit and you're not you're not looking to do a million little rhythm patterns like this and I would take a look at something more like the beethoven example where the rhythm is a little bit more simple but it's still the same a sand little fragment developed over over a long period of time we'll check it out one more time after having gone through all that tried teo try to see how many different ways this one ideas used back to back to back to back to back to back in succession I think I've failed to just mention is for those of you who are more melodic based writers, I would out hunt for an example that you like where arithmetic motif is used to develop melody and analyze that just to make that distinction between some of this just writing, you know, brutal ass risk that aren't very melodic thie exercise here the analysis of this would take much longer, I think but to figure out every which way that that happens melodically were harmonically it would take a while but I'm sure that you guys will get much better at it and then try to write your own thing for it um that right there will take you a long time so I think I think that covers that any questions from anybody cool. We have a question on uh accenting words it's not really right on motifs but accenting words j p k wants to know how big of a role our lyrics in accenting words in metal song writing does that play a big role like for a vocalist to be accenting words, and is that ever used in, like a motif? Absolutely, that was that was something that I think we touched on yesterday was like psycho social, yeah, for instance, the rhythm that and I'm assuming that this person knows the psychosocial is but the way that that hook happens has a lot to do with the rhythm of the hook and how it repeats exactly the same way every time. And if the lyrics were different and they changed every time, for instance, it's arguable that that wouldn't be the part that everyone remembers. Now, some people may disagree with me because, um, metal vocalists are off and terrible lyricists, and a lot of vance was really bad lyrics have gone really far, but I think it's, you can make a point that the best bands always have lyrics that at least fit on a musical rhythmic motif level with, you know, with the arrangements. So I do think it's important, I think it's absolutely important one distinction I want to make about lyrics uh, you know, since that question came up is that lyric writers, people trying to write lyrics should keep in mind that they're not poets and lyrics and poetry are completely different things, and when you're working on lyrics, you are basically combining a musical idea with a word that conveys the feeling o r is supposed to elicit a feeling it's very different than just reading words on a page. So you could have something that, if you read it on a page, would be sixth grade level. But the rhythm and the emotion behind it is what makes all the difference. Just a little side note about lyrics.

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!