Theme and Variations Breakdown


Mastering Metal Songwriting


Lesson Info

Theme and Variations Breakdown

We'll talk about this song atlas. Um, you guys released this one online? Yeah. Released, uh, what day is it? Wednesday, I think wednesday. Ok, I was released on monday. Ok, cool. So so you may heard this one it's all for the new monuments record, and we're gonna kind of take the course apart, and I think that what's, uh, what's interesting about this chorus is that, you know, especially the vocal in there, it very much sounds like a like I would say, like a typical course. We're like a well written chorus where stuff repeats multiple times and, you know, it's, not it's, not really apparent that you play a million notes on his car, and so I wantto it doesn't take very long to get to the course. I kinda just want to play it 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 on this, like, the vocals were pretty in terrible to it, because I think that...

the the guitar, the guitar is, like so active that it acts almost like on arpeggio eater 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 notes at least to me as a listener should every individual note to you in writing yeah, important but all right so let's listen from the beginning you gotta play along by long cool sure. Uh uh we go cool it's a really good course 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 that and 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 there's that one riff on the bridge in the first song where we basically told them to remove all the newly stuff because it was clouding the riff but I don't think that that's necessarily a rule that removing lots of notes is going to 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 steps yeah like the bass and me on the drums so aaron stops let's esso and that's also like thea is that the same basic living motif that was really out throughout down? Could you play that for people? Yeah it's in the pre course wait it's that one one two yeah that maybe if people can't think back teo alchemists that's that's also the same pattern that we were that we were kind of going into with believe the outro let's talk about this course on why what works and was cool about it so I have the structure of the riff up on the screen basically it's a uh it's a five part riff basically five five motifs of fragments put together it's repeated four times with some variations in there but do you mind playing it through once played a top part okay twice the q five again you guys actually want so so basically that is the top line okay, so that goes through a bunch of creations was basically that idea but people should be zeroing and like on that rhythmic motif you feel 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's still some sort of something going on that super familiar that makes it relevant to 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 court which one's which would be the open letter to may cause the rest is like nothing around the quarter that's cool so yeah, I think maybe if if there were as many uh court court changes as um it might seem like they're art it wouldn't work what is much but father you could probably reduce this to two chords and this rhythmic motif is what helps at work I think displayed again from the from here out by the prequel yeah I won't play along with this again so people can get it in their heads again and what I'd like people to focus in on is once again the horrific grow teeth that happens throughout the dun dun dun how that ties everything together and how uh basically try to imagine someone playing the cords behind this and how how few chords there would be yuna someone just strumming you want to go through to the post chorus as well yeah this is the motif as well so yeah absolutely so we'll go through the post course too okay so she's going to start somewhere in the verse but wait yeah that's like going I kept going into the bridge because even when the arrangement completely changes into cleans that you still got a variation of sam rhythmic motif going through out also so basically you get 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 tie it together and it's been introduced in the pre course with the scratches to just it kind of incorporates the chorus that thief from the chorus as well so that it just fragments of other variations but that's actually want to zero in on that that's pretty quiet and you notice that so what's the post chorus riff post chorister but how does it happen in the in the three course wait it's a variation off but the scratchy part is primo saying that's cool so I guess that's an element well not element that's exactly what you were discussing earlier that you will for shadow a part 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 just because I think it's a lot for people who've taken just listen to the contrast between how busy the courses with how not busy 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 bass and basically got three parts in a row that are based on the face and the same thing that sounds wildly different I think you know, and then the second part of the bridge or the vocals come in is again he had another variation on the same thing. I think big picture here for people in the audience is for those of you who are having problems with how to go to the next place or had a gun to a bridge or, uh, had a link wrists 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 that'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 on exercise that they want to give you and expand on it into this type of genre. If you do enough of those and you come up with enough variations, you can eventually get to a place like this where enough contrast ing sections khun b put together to make a song. I think that it's also really interesting that that motif happens throughout the album a lot we kind of I go back to this course's second, we charted out how many times it happens in the album it's not a slide and, uh show you once they switch it so forth for songs, right? Yep, yeah that's and uh I worked on this I'm a lot and you know I don't think it really got boring. I don't think we need to play every single one of these examples 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 yet? Okay, so just just a show kind of how same idea happens in a whole new song. All right. Ah that's fine. I didn't realize that. Yeah, very variation off but it's quite quite different, but it's still based off the kind of something yes. Oh, it's just a variation offer, but I mean, this song if you played 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 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 that 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 not so complicated that there's not much you could do with it so one more thing I want to bring up the atlas course was actually 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 that subliminally don't yeah I'm sure it is perfect example too so you know, one more fun I want to talk about the atlas course is that um is not just ah fragments that you put together definitely has a beginning middle and an end yes and one I think one wrong path that people could go down when they're taking a bunch of fragments and together is to just have a bunch of fragments put together think that if you still need to focus on basically writing a sentence of invisible sentence with these with these fragments that has a define herbal start and finish so you know I'm playing through that riff again the chorus yeah I could just do the first part ok that's in three sections okay so three different sections ira individually this one was the first one little transition yet and then the first part was theo to parts I had and then I started thinking together so I made ascending to get to the next point which like something flew so basically uh if 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 nearly stuff with the transition beginning middle that beginning middle and end I wonder what it was you but without the transition I think that that's a little bit harder teo quantify but is something that people try to pay attention to so any questions on this uh topic before we uh plus into something else I think keep cruising we had michael glass question sometimes have trouble deciding on what should be the verse and what should be the chorus um 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 verse should sound like a first right yet but sometimes based on other stuff based on other people's songs and sort of sometimes best to leave it leave it someone else to decide that yeah like a vocalist is pretty good at that yeah, I think that ultimately ultimately of course is defined by the vocals yet ultimately I mean I'm sure that some people will find the exception to the rule where the hook is uh hook in the chorus is a riff or something yet 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 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 is not leave 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 critique yesterday the first song prettied the thing that was bothering me that couldn't get past was the base is basically a very simple kind of riff song but the basis 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 is somehow you've got it worked out to where these uh no matter how no t these riffs get they still support the vocal so there's definitely a balance between your own ego and then something that sounds good with vocals yeah, absolutely I think one other thing besides the vocals dude cannot can try to work on to define courses is you know, obviously listened of course is 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 this where the ideas in the song harmonically rhythmically structurally kind of come together and open up so one thing that might help him is he wants to study some harmony study how things resolved doesn't have to study it tio college level but you know a little bit of basic understanding of how how how keys resolve and how corts function with each other would definitely help and then uh study up on basically the contrast ing elements in saucy likes between verses and courses like say like pick a song like say, the muse song we listened to earlier what set how is the chorus set up and what's different between it and the verse and if you do that for enough songs you'll start teo you start to see some patterns there so I hope that helps um do you want teo uh do you want teo talk about some transitions yet cool let's uh now I I don't know if I have this one but uh we're going to talk about doc's up for a second that's what I had here and actually I do have it cool uh you want to play the part yeah yeah let's do that um do you need teo switch? You're tuning not threatening okay so the riff where we introduce the rough during is doctorates that's, right? You won't play that along to the er yeah it's about a third rate I think I have a cup it's a good transition so that that is thie this part comes later in the song as a whole tapping part during the bridge it's pretty cool eso leg I think that part of what made that work to, uh, all motifs and everything aside, all that stuff that assad that we've been talking about is that rhythmically there's a big change? Yeah, that on dh 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 movie that people can try to go to when they can't think of where to go next, try something that's in basically the opposite field way have before don't work every time, but when done well, it 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 it's like we're straight after that one it's where we were ok it's about like taking notes out of a riff so, like the first half is quite noting this zach of the same rhythm but just using two notes instead that's kind of like the court's attraction thing that I talked about earlier but on a note riff level so do you want to play through it? Okay, so that's where you cut first riff right to start with that okay, then repeats off the referee just showed which is just to note riff is exactly the same just minus everything. Yeah, she just two notes the repeat yeah it's uh, 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 on people to drill is doing the sand progression just minus accord or plus a chord and then you have a brand new progression and then with a rift like this it's the same exact concept just done with a crazy riff but that ties it together. So um basically I think that, uh, for people that, uh, write more subliminally, which I think a lot of people I don't think a lot of people sit down and when they're writing their best work, figure out exactly what every motif is on then go through 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 it's, really simple. They can't figure it out. The riff is probably not that good there's, nothing to findable about it, yeah, 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 at it 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.


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!