The Right Hook


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

The Right Hook

One thing that really sets you guys apart from basically uh not all but a lot of bands that I guess are in your eye it's a scene or genre but I don't know that's entirely appropriate but world whatever it is that you guys are really, really hooked based and that's obviously not an accident because it's song after song after song anderson so obviously you had to work on it on dh that's not that's, not something that just happens because, uh if it did everyone write good hooks because that's something that everyone wants to be good at so I feel like there might not be like a specific musical formula for it like a theoretical form like this cord into this this million note but I think from our talking there's definitely like characteristics that if you think about them uh and maybe edit your writing or just get them in your mind uh you can subconsciously start creating more of those. And one of the main things that I think is that it it like hook is not necessarily the chorus of notice is...

just the part that separates itself from everything else. Um, did you ever when you were first starting to write, uh think that courses and hooks were the same thing like a lot of bands do sure, I mean, yeah, in the easiest way to take your mind out of thinking that way is if you really dive into what makes a metal song catchy in most cases you know if you work with like you have a slayer or whatever it's it's not like he's going into some melodic territory during the chorus or whatever so the the hook is just whatever you find yourself humming along to later you know on and on and on and you know it could be that or it could be you know psychosocial which again isn't it a melodic part but it is a repeating part it's a part that has some prominence it's not even the chorus price I go so yeah yeah I think a ce for a slayer is concerned we play it many version of it earlier but the middle section from angel of death is a perfect example it's a bridge but that's like the part that everybody uh everybody remembers andi think that the main thing about it is that it's so different from everything else I guess here theory wise air like uh formally speaking there's probably is probably a way to actually differentiated rhythmically will be different no choice wise if everything else is, say a bunch of eighth nose back to back to back down a little bit like the hooker, be longer drawn or have more space between them there's just something that sets it apart or else he brain one even recognize that is going on. One thing that I think is interesting about metal uh especially metal that doesn't have clean vocals is that it could still be justice hookey it just needs to be done in the music and that thea the instrumental parts kind of takes the space of the vocal like and some of the songs that we listed like or a sign lives or whatever the main guitar line is is really melodic you could I mean maybe what make like the best vocal line because it's played on guitar but it's ah it's singable it's memorable for sure winter up there it's like yeah that was someone it's going to reference a pantera song they're probably going to go hand in hand and around before they're gonna say I'm broken you know or whatever every single pantera song very much I think it's like uh harder to find songs that I don't have great hooks then it then it is tio point out songs with hooks by them um so another thing that I think is do you think maybe this is a place where we can put aside the usual thing of um ignore what you're close friends and family are saying like maybe like this, if you come up with a great hook or something like you can actually see that they develop a genuine reaction to it rather than um the usual like oh yeah, I mean, that sounds really good where do you still think that like it hooks not even going to cut through that well, I mean, I'd look at it like this if they don't like the song or you're going to listen to them and, uh get to influence by that and if the answer is no, you're not going to listen them if they don't like the song and why would you listen to them? But they do like the song kind of invalidates itself so I don't ever really pay attention to people that close to me I think that they have a bias, which is that either they want you to fail or they want to succeed leans heavily based on your relationship with them and it's just not a good way to gauge whether or not your music's effective I think specifications with total strangers but how do you think until agree? Yeah, I mean perfect example is like, you see, these people on american idol had been told by everyone that they know that they're like the best thing in the world they go and it's very clear they're not on I just think that's like on one hand, it's just super depressing that like all these people have either lied to them like right to their face or they just you know, they don't know they don't have the discretion to understand what a good singer is or what it isn't so it's yeah, I would totally agree I think in most cases or at least hopefully those people are all going to be rooting for you so it's kind of ah unfair or on um uh it's just that it's kind of a gray area things like you know no you're not rooting for you then it's it's like still weird because why would you get discouraged if someone doesn't like your stuff? Yeah, yeah I just, uh I just don't think it's nonbiased enough teo to really go with it just I've seen too many bands where everyone around them is rallying behind something and then it actually gets out into the world and just falls flat on his face every you know, we could dive into this for hours, but I mean everything is just relative and especially these days like there's a taste for everything like people there's there's thousands of people that you know, I think this one thing is awesome and like everyone else, it seems crazy. So I mean, you could find people that like your music or whatever it is that you're creating that are out there, but uh I think I think by creating it, it almost just that it doesn't matter like you can't go into anything thinking like um like whether or not you're going to satisfy, you know another party or whatever, I think that should be totally out of the equation because there's you could make the weirdest, most bizarre thing and you listen to emerge about record and it's just bizarre front back um and people buy it, you know, there's plenty people that buy that stuff. So it's I think there's kind of a market for anything but then again, it's, like I said it's all relative so it's what's cool to one person is totally uncool to another person and, um even what's cool to the person that thinks this is un cool is totally uncool to this person. So it's like there's this relativity that goes all the way down. Teo someone draw really awesome chart of, like the hipster relativity, you know, on dh it's like this guy thinks with this guy's into sucks and this guy thinks that this guy's into socks and you know, you know, it goes all the way down until you're you know, the obvious thing is like nickel backs on one end and then, you know, godspeed, you black andrew emperor's on the other end and like there's there's, all these people in between those two bands that, you know think that the person behind them music sucks on do they think the person in front of their their music probably sucks too? So it's just all every everything's is completely relative and not just that your friends and family aren't psychic so like here they genuinely like something there's no uh that's no gauge for whether or not it's going to make any difference in the world so you shouldn't worry about it and taste aside I mean aiken dislike something that's really successful and does really well and I would have been totally wrong about it if I would have said that it wouldn't do good I've been wrong about friends bands that I thought weren't very good and weren't going to um weren't going to do good and I've heard their songs and be like there's just no way and then the song ends up you know, there's one particular song like I grew up with the guys not super close to him but the guys in papa roach and I remember hearing last resort for the first time and it was since they were from the area like our local radio stations played it before a lot of other stations picked it up and I just didn't think it was all that catchy I didn't I didn't really think it was going to do anything and then just, you know, before my eyes like over the next couple years it was just like from biggest song ever I thought the same thing when I first heard them when I was living in boston, people were handing out the two song singlet there's no way this is not happening like eleven million regulators yeah, that just goes to show you like it doesn't really matter what you know I thought I knew everything at that age and obviously I didn't I would've made a bad record executive so yeah that's another art let's keep talking about hooks so we were saying that that not basic but they are one of the main things about a song that differentiates it from other songs and also differentiates the itself within the song and one thing that we were talking about that you do which I think more people should do and a lot of my favorite bands too is borrow their their most interesting ideas from non metal sources. And I think that the reason being is that you know you had one thing on top of something else that's not like it and you create a brand new genre way actually made a slide about that eventually which will get too but like, say, for instance open whether or not you like them open you could say is king crims and plus more angel equals open uh least at one point in time changed by now but it was more of an angel plus cannibal corpse you get any other number of bands that were out and about back then um or and there's any number of any number of examples where you have a really unique band and it's usually just the combination of two metal plus one other thing equals this band and so I think you can either let that happen by accident or you can you can actually work on it, but I think that the first thing you could do is, uh, point out what it is about the hook that actually draws you in anger saying like with were time of the neo song but it didn't load so that's fine like I can talk, I could still kind of explain what it is about like pop songs that I think I'm drawn to. Um I think it's it's what most people are drawn to when they hear pop songs I think it's why they're successful on why they're widely accepted I think I might just go into a little bit more of a dissection with whatever that is specifically within a song I think it has to do with repetition it has to do with the variants and tone and inflection of that part of the song on the repetition I think comes with the melody and the earlier it could be some variation of the two of those or it could be both of them in this case like he repeats several things in the song and the melody in the note on the word you know for several parts is repeated and I think that's the kind of thing that I would pull out of a song like this would be more of like a repetition kind of thing it's like you just said in a psychosocial too after a big melodic chorus where I think it's uh there's not much space in it it's just kind of soaring and you know it was a crowded but there's a lot going on and the hook is psycho social cause right then like you know looking residence machines whole catalog it was usually it was a hook because it was super repetitive on there's parts where he would do like the same blind sixteen bars in a row I mean and that's the thing that you stuck in your head you know and you memorized and you like, you know, going back to this song it's like the court the actual choruses the melody for it is like and I just can't get my self uh way so it's got this like one note that aims hitting you and then it kind of deviates from it a little bit in the middle of each bar but that's the kind of thing that I would take you know, if I wanted teo I would take just the kind of bare bones overall idea of like a repeating word I would probably slow it down um I would you know, be a completely different time signature and stuff but I would take that idea of like a line of words and then just hitting each one kind of briefly with a single note and then you know, deviating from it I was just a kind of like the the bones of it but you wouldn't even be able to you might not even be able to uh hear any kind of resemblance to when I was done with a good spark you know, it's a good starting point I was just wondering listening teo you uh talk about rage against the machine is I guess uh can you think of hooks that only happened once in a song is it but definition that they repeat a bunch or at least enough or uh are there any that just literally happened wants that air collective? I'm actually I'm racking my brain trying to think of one you know, songs that one course one chorus and the hook happens once and it's that strong that state around forever of anyone if anyone can think of one please yeah green eyes forward well there's definitely like courses that air tiny like just couple seconds long well, doesn't it make you feel bad here isn't pretty much the entire hooker that song because then it goes into a almost like a tertiary chorus after that um that doesn't happen every time the only thing that happens constantly is that doesn't make you feel better I guess it's got it does happen more than once but it also has the other elements that we were talking about I guess really exaggerated there like it's so different than the rest of the song right like extremely soto where it doesn't need to happen is many times because it's such a contrast in the drums in that song really creative hook tio no that's that's a huge element to totally and so I guess maybe uh the more uh there's the more different it is the greater amount of different elements that the hook has the less times it needs to happen and I mean I guess uh does that make sense um we'll check it out the next line was about differentiation um I guess I guess there's like trix you khun definitely use like using really common issues melody there's no melody before it putting harming on it different register like repeating keywords it really I don't think it matters what it is because every hook is going to be different it's all case specific but what matters is that it's something different yeah I mean we in demon air there's kind of a formula I mean it's it's a pretty obvious like thing to pick out after hearing a couple of our records or even just one record it's you know the standard thing to do is scream the verses choose between scream or saying that the pre courses and then seeing the courses that's going to be the most standard version of a demon hunter song, but we do have a handful of songs where there's you know, singing verses and a screaming pre course and a singing chorus and a really small number of songs where there's actually screaming chorus on dh maybe even singing versus so I mean, it definitely needs to if you're going for us if we're going to flip the formula and put like, screaming universe and seeing a singing universe and screaming in the chorus, that chorus definitely still has to feel like a chorus because it's basically flipping our you know, our method around on biff it isn't interesting enough or doesn't have enough prominence on that part of the song and it's not going to feel like a chorus um so yeah, differentiation is kind of the key element to I think just a lot of modern metal core bands in general yes, if you're going from screaming the singing or seeing the screaming kind of sand thing yeah um and I think a lot of bands do they kind of if they want to fit into that kind of world, they'll do singing just to sing the right parts that, you know, just sound a little forced into the singing realm and vice versa telling not necessary either yeah it's it's unnecessary and it's to me at least it's I think it's pretty obvious that the singing the actual singing of it was kind of an afterthought and it was more about let's have a singing part right here whether or not it fits or works or is catchy or is this remember was any good for the singers any good? Yeah, yeah I I remember that the coal misconception of you have to have clean singing being something from like ten to fifteen years ago that everybody used to say to everybody else but nobody ever actually confirmed that it was true just like an urban legend was yeah I was like a prerequisite for like going from this level to this level but it's not nardo and over was true not at all it's just a stylistic uh it's just a silent the stylistic decision and it's become really obvious that it's definitely not like a recipe for success absolutely not there's some really, really big bands who prove it who just prove otherwise. Lina god francis uh more recently why chapel in the top ten like, I mean, you can go back in time and just find plenty of examples where uh it's just proved that you don't need clean vocals but I mean I love clean vocals of there well done it's just they're not well done, there's no reason to there's no reason to think that that's what's going to sell you a record because queen vocal does not equal hook if a clean vocal sucks just equals crafty, clean yeah, uh, you can you can use you can create hooks in just about any aspect of your song like any instrument. It's just, uh, I think the key is definitely differentiation on this in how you approach the vocals for sure, like, for instance, climate god think their hooks, we'll definitely there are a lot of lyrical hooks, but the guitar lines were always very, very catchy, you know, from the beginning and I think that's what stuck in people's has a lot never era lyrical hooks at times, but not melodic hooks. Yeah, anything. It kind of slightly ventured into that world like halfway through their career, but I think that kind of jumped back out of that as well. It was never like straight up singing no thanks. Just dabbling, dabbled a little. Got right out.

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.