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Jose Mena
Hello Everyone.

Sometime ago I saw a few lesson requests about songwriting, and well the answer is that there aren't really rules or guidelines, everyone writes songs differently, and even the same artist might have different approaches.

I decided to sit down, and write a simple Metal song from scratch in minutes, the idea of the song was literally put together within a few hours, and I wanted to share this with you.

There is no melody here yet, I wanted to concentrate on Metal Riffing. I will probably add a lead guitar to the whole thing in the future, or get a vocalist to sing something, as this type of tune I believe would benefit more from an aggressive and melodic vocal work.

I will be creating a lesson of this tune, but I want to first let you listen to the whole song, and discuss how I came up with the parts, what made me decide the Key, the sound, the tunning, what riff goes what and where.

And of course ask questions if you have any

Here is the link, let me know if it doesn't work

http://www.taximusic.com/song.php?song_id=...amp;stream=true

Cheers
Nazgul
This is awesome, Jose! The riffs are brutal (especially the second wink.gif ), the solo rules too. I would have done the drums a little bit different, but I think that doesn't count here.

This song helped me very much, thank you.smile.gif
jer
Ahhhhhhhhhhh YEAH!!!!

I've been listening to Shadows Fall for a big chunk of the weekend. And this fits in that vein nicely!!!

I'm VERY looking forward to the discussion on its creation.

Skalde
I really like it, it sounds great, maybe you should upload the complete file instead of an streaming link.
I am looking forward to your lesson, I am sure I can learn a lot there cool.gif
Jose Mena
Great guys, I am glad you guys liked it.

So lets start.

I was going for a Metal sound, I was thinking in the lines of Iron Maiden, however I did not want to copy and wanted it to be heavier than Iron Maiden, and more modern sounding.

So first thing I chose was:

1. D tuning, the guitar is tuned D-G-C-F-A-D, this provides a heavier Modern sound, not as heavy as tuning to B, but somewhere in between.

2. The scale, since I was thinking of Metal it had to be Minor, and since I was thinking of Maiden as an inspiration it had to somewhat include the typical Maiden chord progression (Emin, Cmaj Dmaj). Lets forget that the guitar is tuned to D. So lets call E your open string.

Now I want to discuss about chord progressions and reusing, most likely every chord progression you play, has been used before, so you need creativity to make things sound different and original. If I had played these chords and did the Maiden Galloping playing E min for 1 bar, Cmaj for 1 bar, Dmaj for 1 bar back to Emin for the last bar, and repeat that over and over. There wouldn't be any creativity from my part.

I changed this around a bit, I stay on E for 3 bars, and C and D only for 1 bar duration, in addition I created a simple but interesting riff that gives the song its own personality.
jer
QUOTE
typical Maiden chord progression (Emin, Cmaj Dmaj).


Not saying this isnt true but can you gove an example of this? A specific Maiden song?
Jose Mena
QUOTE (jer @ Oct 20 2008, 03:16 PM) *
Not saying this isnt true but can you gove an example of this? A specific Maiden song?

Hallowed be thy Name
The Trooper

No through out the whole song, but the main chords are E minor, C major, D major, even though they are played as power cords, the tonality of the song tells you what they are, you could play the full chords if you wanted to.
jer
Gotcha.

You mentioned choosing minor for a scale. And you mentioned 3 chords. E C and D

What key are we in then?

Emin?
Jose Mena
QUOTE (jer @ Oct 20 2008, 03:38 PM) *
Gotcha.

You mentioned choosing minor for a scale. And you mentioned 3 chords. E C and D

What key are we in then?

Emin?

Precisely, Emin, Although it is really Dmin, because the guitar is tuned a whole step down.
jer
Right. But we'll go crazy thinking of it that way. laugh.gif


So Emin. (E F# G A B C D E)

And using E C D gives us a I-V-VI progression correct?

(I just want to make sure my definitions/terms are correct)
Marek Rojewski
Great playing Jose, juicy riffs:)
superize
Great song and explanation Jose ihave been trying to write a song in drop d and i would appriciate if you could have a listened to it and see what you think of it so far.....

Click to view attachment
Jose Mena
QUOTE (jer @ Oct 20 2008, 03:47 PM) *
Right. But we'll go crazy thinking of it that way. laugh.gif


So Emin. (E F# G A B C D E)

And using E C D gives us a I-V-VI progression correct?

(I just want to make sure my definitions/terms are correct)

Almost, it is actually I-VI-VII
jer
yeah... I meant that. Duh...

OK. I'm with ya now.

Jose Mena
QUOTE (superize @ Oct 20 2008, 04:16 PM) *
Great song and explanation Jose ihave been trying to write a song in drop d and i would appriciate if you could have a listened to it and see what you think of it so far.....

Click to view attachment

Man you are off to a good start, it depends where you want to take it, you have 2 main riffs, so basically if you wanted to do a simple song like mine, you are almost done.

Good work
superize
QUOTE (Jose Mena @ Oct 20 2008, 09:22 PM) *
Man you are off to a good start, it depends where you want to take it, you have 2 main riffs, so basically if you wanted to do a simple song like mine, you are almost done.

Good work


I got one more riff that i am going to fit in plus a solo
jer
I gotta figure out how to do this stuff. Where it all falls apart for me is the 2nd riff. Coming up with 1 I like is no problem. But 2?

Or trying to link 2 different ones from my "library of single riffs"....

Impossible for me.

Yet in my head I can hear all kinds of stuff. I just can't get it out when holding my guitar. It seems that without the drums and rest of th eband I just cant re-create it.

Its DANG frustrating.

I am really thankful for this thread.
Jose Mena
QUOTE (jer @ Oct 20 2008, 04:32 PM) *
I gotta figure out how to do this stuff. Where it all falls apart for me is the 2nd riff. Coming up with 1 I like is no problem. But 2?

Or trying to link 2 different ones from my "library of single riffs"....

Impossible for me.

Yet in my head I can hear all kinds of stuff. I just can't get it out when holding my guitar. It seems that without the drums and rest of th eband I just cant re-create it.

Its DANG frustrating.

I am really thankful for this thread.


You should just select some of those riffs and create a song, first time you might not have a killer song, but you will have started.

For this song, I didn't have anything previously done, I sat down to create a song, and I knew that I was going to have 2 different riffs, why I made one a certain way and the other different will be explained soon.

Lets talk about the first riff:

The first riff is simple, I wanted a simple yet cool sounding intro riff, that I already knew I was probably going yo use for the chorus, I used Natural minor scale because I didn't want the listener to be surprised with a weird different exotic sounding scale, I wanted the sound of good old fashioned metal. Sometimes simplicity sounds best.

An important aspect of songwriting is production, big artists have a producer that calls the shots, and helps the artists shape the song into a hit, well most of us don't have that and we have to produce ourselves.

In this song I introduce the main riff with only one guitar, the drums and second rhythm guitar briefly make an appearance to let you know, "we are here and we are coming in soon to give this a boost". Later on they come in, the drums are a simple straight beat that could probably be enhanced by a good drummer with good taste for metal, the one I chose serves its purpose well. The second guitar doesn't play the exact same thing but rather plays thirds of the main riff to make it evident that there are 2 guitars playing.

That is it for now

Later
jer
Is the right side guitar doing thirds all the way up to the verse riff?

OrganisedConfusion
This is another good guide

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chiVMrWMHko

laugh.gif
Jose Mena
QUOTE (jer @ Oct 21 2008, 09:58 AM) *
Is the right side guitar doing thirds all the way up to the verse riff?

yes

QUOTE (OrganisedConfusion @ Oct 21 2008, 09:59 AM) *

Cool funny guide. I guess Organized confusion is trying to say that we should be original when creating music . I agree that we should not strictly follow rules or guidelines, as that could be done by anyone. But as we write the first songs it is easier to get started with something to have an idea of song structure. Then go ahead break all rules and be innovative.

I've written songs like this, knowing what I am shooting for and analyzing every aspect, then I've written others while I drive home and an Idea comes into mind, Or simply Jamming with my brothers and something comes up, other times I've set the click to different tempos while I improvise scales over it, and and interesting melodic line pops out, and make that a song, there are so many ways to write and you should find the one that suits you best.
OrganisedConfusion
Originality is key but the best way I find is by jamming with friends lots and just trying to get a riff or a melody in your head or a line of lyrics and go from there. If you jam it out then find out what key you're playing in and improvise a bit more in that key. If you dream of a riff then tab it out and transcribe it for guitar. And if you have a line of lyrics try and sing it and strum chords under it to get a key that you like for the music and try and write in that key.

There are lots of ways to do it and I have created songs using all 3 of these ways. Songwriting is easy but writing good songs is far from easy. I must scrap 9 riffs from every 10 I write. But that 1 riff I'm normally really happy with.
Jose Mena
Yes, you want to write from inspiration, but there is always an explanation to why something sounds a certain way. For instance I describe that I decided to use natural minor because I wanted it to be like simple old fashioned metal, Even if you think that you don't know the scale you are playing and you come up with a similar riff, you chose minor because of its sound, maybe you played a major third somewhere and didn't like the sound of it, and found that the minor third suits the song best, you might not be thinking about it but the knowledge is there, the minor third sounds more metal to you, so you build the riff around that without even knowing you have already chosen a scale, but you have.
OrganisedConfusion
I don't really know my scales too well but I do tend to put a lot of notes out of the scale in. I wish I knew theory to understand this and why some notes work better.
Jose Mena
QUOTE (OrganisedConfusion @ Oct 21 2008, 11:29 AM) *
I don't really know my scales too well but I do tend to put a lot of notes out of the scale in. I wish I knew theory to understand this and why some notes work better.

Believe me, if you are writing music, you kind of already know them, the notes you choose on your riffs or chord progressions give you different emotions.

For instance say you play a E power chord and then you play A#, that gives you a dark sound, that is the famous flat 5th interval, tritone.

Some Metal players, chose these intervals between chords to get that heavy dark sound. Examples of intervals like these can be heard in bands such as Pantera, and Symphony X, you might be playing these same chords, not consciously knowing , but your ear tells you that a certain chord is what you are looking for because you wanted that dark sound.

So it is just a matter of sitting down and seeing what are the names of the stuff you already know. And it helps
audiopaal
Very nice Jose, that was awesome smile.gif

Thanks for sharing!!
jer
QUOTE
So it is just a matter of sitting down and seeing what are the names of the stuff you already know. And it helps


Its helpful when trying to communicate with other musicans too.

"Hey, try a tritone there." or "Try a third harmony of that line."

Is easier to say and understand than not having those terms to use.

"Hey try that higher note thing. No not that, higher, no, higher, there ya go!"

smile.gif
Toroso
QUOTE (Jose Mena @ Oct 21 2008, 09:49 AM) *
The second guitar doesn't play the exact same thing but rather plays thirds of the main riff to make it evident that there are 2 guitars playing.


Could you explain to a dummy what this means?
Jose Mena
QUOTE (Toroso @ Oct 21 2008, 02:09 PM) *
Could you explain to a dummy what this means?

It means that you follow whatever the other guitar is doing a third below or above in this case, following the scale you are playing

the scale for this song is E F# G A B C D, so if one guitar plays an E, the other plays G, if the guitar plays A the other plays C. Simple concept, sounds very cool.
jer
you hear it a lot in leads.

Like this tune from the Metal God himself.

HALFORD

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uWB-x-jV3Y

:11 to :20

Toroso
QUOTE (Jose Mena @ Oct 21 2008, 02:21 PM) *
It means that you follow whatever the other guitar is doing a third below or above in this case, following the scale you are playing

the scale for this song is E F# G A B C D, so if one guitar plays an E, the other plays G, if the guitar plays A the other plays C. Simple concept, sounds very cool.


Thanks! I learned something today. My quota is full. tongue.gif
Jose Mena
Now for the second riff:

I usually make the verse sound quieter when it comes to guitar, I use more palm muting or come up with something that will help draw the attention away from the guitars a little, as you want to hear more of the leas singer, or lead guitar, or any lead instrument.

I didn't want to change keys, but changed the chord progression a little, and I don't simply let the chords ring for 1 or 2 bars, I tried to think of ways to make it interesting and my own by using some single notes between chords, and silences. This can really make a difference when you are creating a song and are using some Old chord progression that has been used over and over and you want to give it your own personal touch.

If you are currently working on a song that might have a simple chord progression, maybe you could try adding things like these, to make it sound different, it is a matter of taste to, sometimes arrangements like these won't work for a certain piece do don't force it, it should feel natural.

The point here is, that there should be a difference between what you use in you chorus riffs or arrangements, and what you use in the verse. Usually the chorus sounds louder, busier, even with simple songs that keep the entire piece with the same chord progression the make a difference by probably playing louder, adding more distortion, adding another guitar playing a simple repetitive arrangement, more background vocals.

I guess you could be really experimental and try otherwise, I am trying to think of songs that don't do this, and nothing comes to my mind.

Later
jer
I follow ya.

More!!!!

smile.gif
Jose Mena
The lesson about it is up, check it out

http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/ls/songwriting-metal/
Fingerspasm
Great lesson! I am starting to practice it now. And I am really enjoying the theory aspect of it at the same time. My question is when you are playing in an alternate tuning like this do you still play the E minor scale in the same location as the normal tuning? I hope this makes sense. This is one of the reasons I have stayed away from alternate tunings up to this point. I am always confused as to how to apply the scales.
Jose Mena
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Nov 9 2008, 09:24 AM) *
Great lesson! I am starting to practice it now. And I am really enjoying the theory aspect of it at the same time. My question is when you are playing in an alternate tuning like this do you still play the E minor scale in the same location as the normal tuning? I hope this makes sense. This is one of the reasons I have stayed away from alternate tunings up to this point. I am always confused as to how to apply the scales.

For the sake of simplicity when I tune down half step or whole step I would rather call the notes by the position, So here the song is actually played in D, but for simplicity let's say it is E (because of what we are actually fretting).

Fingerspasm
QUOTE (Jose Mena @ Nov 9 2008, 08:27 AM) *
For the sake of simplicity when I tune down half step or whole step I would rather call the notes by the position, So here the song is actually played in D, but for simplicity let's say it is E (because of what we are actually fretting).


So then you play the E minor scale in the same position on the neck as if you were in standard tuning? Sorry if I am being dense. I am sure that's what you mean but I just want to make sure since this has been a point of confusion for me.
skennington
Awesome tune Jose and well explained! Checking out the lesson now! smile.gif
Jesse
Main themes for metal lyircs. Death. Pain. Suffering. War. The end of the world. BROWN RAIN!
Jesse
Main themes for metal lyircs. Death. Pain. Suffering. War. The end of the world. BROWN RAIN!
Jose Mena
QUOTE (Fingerspasm @ Nov 9 2008, 10:02 AM) *
So then you play the E minor scale in the same position on the neck as if you were in standard tuning? Sorry if I am being dense. I am sure that's what you mean but I just want to make sure since this has been a point of confusion for me.

exactly
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