Mastodon Style

by Gabriel Leopardi

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  • Hi GMC!

    Welcome to our first lesson based on the style of the great band “Mastodon”. This lesson has been requested many times at the forum so It was a big responsibility. I’ve been listening and analyzing their music for many months until I could compose something that sounds original but that reflects their most used elements. I hope that you enjoy it!

    “Mastodon is an American heavy metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 2000 and composed of bassist Troy Sanders, guitarists Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher and drummer Brann Dailor. Their musical style features progressive concepts and unique instrumentation. All four members participate in vocals, creating a unique blend of singing styles and voices.” – Wikipedia

    Music Style:
    Their music has been evolving and combining elements from different styles along the years. Their roots are heavy metal, but you’ll find elements from Progressive, Stoner, Sludge, Groove, Alternative and Groove Metal that combined make their music unique, interesting and unpredictable. This lesson has a bit of everything they have done summarized in 1 minute. You’ll find here their most used rhythms, scales, chords, and techniques and this can be a good starting point to analyze their composition techniques.

    Tonality, Chord Progression & Scales:
    This tune is in D Phrygian minor which is one of the most used modes in not happy sounding metal music. The intro riff is based on this scale, and recreates their riffing style that is related to progressive metal since even being in 4/4 meter, it doesn’t sound regular.

    This lesson is mostly a rhythm tune so you’ll find techniques like strumming, only downstrokes, palm muting, galloping, but also alternate picking and vibrato in the melodic section.

    I used LePoin plugins to create the guitar tone. These are free amp emulators that are extremely recommended. The cabinet used for this guitar tone is HyBrit which is a Marshall amp emulation and before it a tube screamer emulation. Check out the settings:

    I used Cubase to record audio and midi, superior drummer for drums and Trillian for bass.

    Tuning: Standard Tuning

    Tempo: 140 BPM

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