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Mastering Metal Songwriting

Lesson 26 of 28

Theme and Variations Breakdown

Eyal Levi

Mastering Metal Songwriting

Eyal Levi

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Lesson Info

26. Theme and Variations Breakdown

Lesson Info

Theme and Variations Breakdown

we're gonna talk about this song. Atlas. Um, you guys released this one online? Yeah, was released. Uh, what day is it? Wednesday. Wednesday. Okay. I was released on Monday. Okay, cool. So some of you may heard this one. It's off of the new monuments record, and we're gonna kind of take the course apart. And I think that what's Ah, What's interesting about this chorus is that, you know, especially at the vocal in there, it very much sounds like Like, I would say, like a typical course were like a well written chorus where stuff repeats multiple times and you know, it's not. It's not really apparent that you're playing a 1,000,000 notes on our and so I wanna It doesn't take very long to get to the course I can. I just want to play from the beginning so people can kind of feel like how appropriate the courses. I think one of the main things to also pay attention to on this one is how the vocals helped create the course. Yet on this, like, the vocals are pretty integral to it because I th...

ink that the the guitar, the guitar is like so active that it acts almost like on arpeggio later or look like something that kind of, like sets more of like a, um not a background, but more of a mood. It's not about every individual. No, definitely at least to me. As a listener, I'm sure that every individual note to you, but writing is important, But all right, so let's listen from the beginning, you got play along my uncle. Sure. Uh, and, uh, we go cool. It's a really good chorus again. I think that part of what really works about that is that with how busy the rift is simple a vocal, Yeah, the contrast between the vocals really really sets it apart, and it really supports the melody. It makes it catch your almost. And it's interesting, you know, referencing one of songs that we critique. We there were there is that one riff on the bridge in the first song where we basically told them to remove all the newly stuff. It was clouding the riff, but I don't think that that's necessarily a rule that removing lots of notes is gonna make your riff better, because here you have a perfect example. There's tons of notes going on, and it still sounds open. And so we're fixing on the staffs. Yeah, like the base harmony on the drums. So Areas stops. Let's so And that's also like the Is that the same basic ribbon motif that throughout the album throughout Down. Could you play that for people? Yeah, it's in the pre course that 112 Yeah, that maybe if people can't think back Teoh alchemists does. That's also the same pattern that we were that we were kind of going into with Billy of the Outro. Let's talk about this course on why what works and what's cool about it. So I have the structure of the riff up on the screen. Basically, it's a five part riff. Basically 55 five motifs of fragments put together. Uh, it's repeated four times, with some variations in there, but do you mind playing it through? Play the top twice. Q. Five. That again? Yep, that I actually want. So basically that is the top line. Okay, so that goes through a bunch of variations was basically that idea, but people should be zeroing in, like on that rhythmic motif for that again Yeah, that it's I think, first of all, that's what ties it to the rest of the song and to the rest of the album. And that's almost what anchors everything together. So it's not just some noodle noodle fest. There's an act. Even with all the notes going on, there's still some sort of anchor there still some sort of something going on that super familiar that makes it relevant to the the rest of the album. And you're not actually going through that many chord changes? Not, You know, there's a lot of notes to this, practically to courts. Which one's, which would be the open letter to May cause the rest is like a new thing around the quarter. That's cool. So, yeah, I think maybe if if there were as many core core changes as it might seem like there are, it wouldn't work quite as much, but found that you could probably reduce this to two chords. And this rhythmic motif is what helps it work, I think displayed again from the chemical or out Are you by the prequel? Yeah, I want to play along with this again. People can get it in their heads again. And, uh, what I'd like people to focus in on is once again the horrific Latif that happens throughout the done Don't done how that ties everything together And how. Basically, try to imagine someone playing the cords behind this and how how few chords there would be, even if someone just strumming you want to go through to the post chorus as well? Yeah, it raises the motif as well. Yeah, absolutely. So we'll go through the post course too. Okay, so she's gonna start somewhere in the verse, but yeah, yeah, that's why I kept it going. Yeah, I kept it going into the bridge because even when the arrange and completely changes into cleans that you still got a variation of Sam rhythmic motif going throughout also. So basically, you got the chorus. That's notice. Hell, but still hammering home that ribbing Latif. And then the post chorus is basically just that recurring motif just opened up. Yeah, it's a total contrast. Yet the main anchor element is still in place to tie it together, and it's been introduced in the pre course with the scratches to just kind of incorporates the chorus a little bit from the course as well, so that it just fragments of other variations that that's actually I want to zero in on that. That's pretty quiet and noticed that. So what's the post chorus? Read the post chorus traitors. How does it happen in the, uh, free course? It's a variation off it, but the the scratchy part is previous saying That's cool. So I guess that's Ah, element one non element. That's exactly what you were discussing earlier that you'll for shadow apart that you're introducing. Later you'll incorporated into a riff somehow earlier songs. That's not It's not just out of nowhere when it happens, even though it's a huge contrast, basically the post course really listen once again and one more time. Uh, just because I think it's a lot for people have taken. Just listen to the contrast between how busy the courses with how not busy the post choruses, and we'll keep it going to the bridge and try to listen for that rhythm motif going with the kick drums and the bass. And basically you've got three parts in a row that are based on the based on the same thing. That sound wildly different, I think, uh, you know, And then the second part of the bridge where the vocals come in is again yet another variation of the same thing. I think the big picture here for people in the audience is, uh, for those of you who are having problems with the how to go to the next place or had to go to a bridge or, ah, had a link, rifts together. Take a look at a song like this, which is in some ways, about his technicals. It gets and pay attention to a the contrast between the riffs. But in addition to the contrast, pay attention to what it is. It's tying them together. And so when you go and do the exercises from earlier, if you do them, which you should the motif exercises I was throwing at you pay attention to how you can take a neck, sir. Size that the one I gave you and expand on it into this type of genre. Um, if you do enough of those and you come up with enough variations, you can eventually get to a place like this where, uh, enough contrast ing sections can be put together toe make a song. I think that it's also really interesting that that motif happens throughout the album. A lot. We kind of go back to this course. And secondly, we charted out how many times it happens in the album, and it's on the slide. And, uh, sure you once they switch it so 44 songs, right? Yeah. Yeah, that's and, uh, I worked on this album a lot. And, um, you know, I don't think it really got boring. I don't think we need to play every single one of these examples, but maybe. Let's just let's just play the garden intro or something, because it's easily accessible. Yeah. Do you need to return for it or anything? Yep. Okay, so just just a show. Kind of how same idea happens in a whole new song. All right, that's fine. I didn't realize that. Yeah, very variation off it, but it's quite quite different, but it's still based off the kind of something. Yes, so it's just a variation office, but I mean this song, if you play it back to back with the last song we looked at, Atlas, they're not They're definitely not the same song. Uh, it's not. It's not like you could copy at Listen to this from the same key. Nothing but that motif definitely ties them together. And, uh, for those of you who are trying to make concept records is definitely something that you should pay attention to, how to have a first of all. You make a motif that's strong enough that you can reuse it this many times, but it's simple enough to where you can vary it to where it doesn't. It's simple enough to where it's malleable exactly. It's not so complicated that there's not much you can do with it. So, um, one more thing. I just want to bring up the Atlas Chorus because I see one thing I want to bring up. Well, I didn't notice before, but in the pre course it has this little tapping. But which is kind of like, probably subliminally don't Yeah, I'm sure it is a perfect example to so, you know, one more fun I want to talk about the atlas course is that, um it's not just, ah, fragments that you put together definitely has a beginning, middle, and an end and one I think one wrong path that people could go down when they're taking a bunch of fragments and bring them together is to just have a bunch of fragments put together. I think that people still need to focus on basically writing a sentence of invisible sentence with these with these fragments that has a defined herbal start and finish, So do I'm playing through that riff again. The chorus. Yeah, I can just do the best part. OK, lesson three sections when it Okay, so three different sections IRA Individually, this one was the 1st It's got that little transition yet, and then the first part was the parts I had. And then I started thinking together. So I made ascending to get to the next point which like, flu So basically, uh, anyone didn't catch that. You got one idea, which is the low riff e thing and which is idea one, and you're linking it to the high newly stuff with the transition beginning middle that beginning middle and end, I wonder what it was. Carefully without the transition, I think that that's a little bit harder Teoh quantify, but is something that people try to pay them to do so. Um, any questions on this topic before we, uh, less into something else? I think Cruz and we had Michael glyph had a question. Sometimes have trouble deciding on what should be the verse and what should be the chorus. How do you decide what should be the version? What should be the chorus. And I would think the court should sound like a chorus. And the birth should sound like a first right yet, but sometimes based on other stuff based on other people's songs and sort of sometimes best of it, believe it someone else to decide that. Yeah, like our vocalist, is pretty good. Yeah, e I think that ultimately, ultimately courses defined by the locals. Yet ultimately, um, I mean, I'm sure that some people will find the exception to the rule where the hook is hooking. The chorus is a riff or something, yet a ultimately, in most cases, the chorus comes together when when the vocals say that it does. And that's how you'll know generally, especially when you have a lot of riffs that kind of have a lot of similar elements. You need the lead instrument to kind of define it. And that's another thing is, I think, even though there's a lot of notes going on in these parts, uh, it's not lead guitar, not the vocals with lead. Yep, definitely. And it's actually kind of kind of crazy that it could be this noti but not be competing with a melody, a song that we critiqued yesterday. The first song prettied. The thing that was bothering me that could get past was the base is basically a very simple kind of rift song, but the base is just noodling like crazy and totally getting in the way of vocals and basically, what was going on. And you had to lead instruments competing for, you know, for the prize and totally killed it. So I definitely know that feeling. It's weird, it doesn't work, but it's somehow you've got it worked out to where these. No matter how notice these riffs get, they still support the vocal. So there's definitely a balance between your own ego and something that sounds good with vocals. Yeah, absolutely. I think one other thing besides the vocals that, uh, dude cannot can try to work on to define choruses is you know, obviously listen to courses that he likes and do the whole song analysis thing and try to, like, try to zero in on what elements there are about people's courses that move him. But in addition to that, generally, generally speaking, uh, chorus is a resolution of sorts. Like it's where the ideas in the song, like harmonically, rhythmically, structurally kind of come together and open up. So, uh, one thing that might help him is he wants to study some harmony, study how things resolved, um doesn't have to study it Teoh college level. But you know, a little bit of basic understanding of how how how keys, resolve and how courts function with each other would definitely help and then study up on basically the contrast ing elements in songs he likes between versus and courses like say, like, uh, pick a song, uh, like, say, the muse song we listen to earlier. What set? How is the chorus set up? And what's different between it and the first? Uh, And if you do that for enough songs, you'll start Teoh, you start to see some patterns there, so I hope that helps. Um, do you want to. Ah. Do you want Teoh talk about some transitions yet? Cool. Let's, uh now, I don't know if I have this one, but, uh, we're gonna talk about Doc's up for a second. That's what had here. And actually, I do have it cool. Uh, you want to buy the pot? Yeah. Yeah, let's do that. Um, do you need Teoh? Switch your tuning. Okay, So the riff where we introduced the rift during is Doctor, it's this right. Okay. You want play that along to the, uh, yes, it's about the third Red. I think I have a cut. So good transition. So that that is the this part comes later in the song as a whole tapping part during the bridge. That's this bit. That's pretty cool. Eso like, um, I think that part of what made that work to, uh, all motifs and everything aside, all that stuff that aside that we've been talking about is that rhythmically there's a big change. Yeah, that on, uh, that right there is. I think that that's like, Well, number one move that, people, we don't have this written down the slide. So there's a number one move that people can try to go to when they can't think of where to go next is it tries something that's in basically the opposite feel yeah of we had before don't work every time, but when done Well, it, uh, it works. But let's talk about this step by step that there's actually another one in there that's like, really cool on its. Like where straight after that one. It's where we were. OK, it's about like taking notes out of a riff. So, like the first is quite noting, This is aka the same rhythm, but just using two notes instead. That's kind of like the cords attraction thing that I talked about earlier on a note riff level. So do you want to play through it? Okay, so the It's where you caught first rift, right to start with it, cause OK, okay, repeats off the refugees showed, which is just to note, riff is exactly just minus everything that she just two nights the repeat. Yeah, it's ah, it's really interesting that you bring that up just because earlier, when I was just showing basic for cord basic basic four chord progressions, one of things that own people to drill is doing the sand progression just minus accord or plus accord. And then you have a brand new progression. And then with a riff like this, it's the same exact concept just done with a crazy riff. Yeah, but that ties it together. So, um, basically, I think that ah, his for people that, uh, right more subliminally, which I think a lot of people I don't think that a lot of people sit down and when they're writing their best work, figure out exactly what every motif is on and then go through an exercise to make it just It just kind of happens, but they can't think of where to go next. Then I definitely think that the next thing that they definitely do is figure out what the motif is and what I think is really simple. They can't figure it out. The riff is probably not that good. There's nothing to findable about it. Then you basically I'm no gauge with where to go next. So think find what it is that really, really works about. The riff keeps that and change everything else pretty much. And you've got a You've got a variation

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.