Songwriting - Metal

by Jose Mena

Lesson step:

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  • Difficulty: 4
Scrubbing / forward / rewind: arrow right, arrow left keys
Jump to start: Home or `s` , you can also click/tap the lesson part again (the numbers above player)
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  • Hello and welcome to my metal songwriting lesson (tune your guitar a whole step down DAFCGD for this lesson).

    To teach how to write songs is quite hard, maybe even impossible, someone can teach you how to play guitar, but how to create, or how to think, would be very hard. This lesson's attempt is to help you organize your ideas when creating songs and riffs. I am pretty sure most of you come up with original ideas and riffs for songs, but somehow those ideas never make it into a song. Well in this lesson I attempt to explain how I created a full 3:00 metal song from 2 main riffs.

    I started a discussion in my instructor board where I give a little more details about it, as I thought you might want to listen to the whole thing, and comment about it and ask questions.

    Click here to view the thread.

    On the main video for this lesson I only play the intro, the first verse, 1st chorus and the bridge, after this everything repeats itself one more time except for the bridge which is only played once.

    The structure of the song is one of the most common, specially for radio friendly material where they don't want long 7 minute songs with long guitar solos.


    This is very basic structure, maybe for a more personal touch I could've thrown in tempo changes, meter changes, key changes, stuff that I do sometimes a lot, but sometimes less is more so I felt keeping it simple was more suitable here, plus it is better for the purpose of a lesson.

    A few words on production, here I make the use of guitar doubling to give the guitars a wider and bigger sound, Heavy Metal needs Heavy and Big guitars, so this is a common technique. It simply means playing a certain part exactly the same twice. Here I played twice and panned left and right.

    Notice that for the chorus I decided to harmonize the parts by playing thirds instead of exactly doubling to make it more interesting. This concept is very simple, look at the scale diagram below and all you do is skip one not on the scale, so for instance if you play a C, the next note on the scale is a D(skip), and then E (this is the one you play). It does not sound the same if you played these two notes at the same time on the same guitar, specially with distortion it will sound simply like a chord, but doing it with two guitars sounds wider and has a different feel. Simple concept used widely because it sounds great.

    I have provided many backing tracks, the slower ones, plus 3 versions of the normal tempo. One of them only has bass, the other one has the left guitar recording, so you can practice the left guitar, and pretend you are playing with another guitarist, finally the full song, 3 minutes or so, listen to the whole song on the thread in my instructor's board, and then you can play the whole thing.

    Hope you Metal fans, enjoy this lesson. I've seen many threads in here on players that want to write songs, all the posts I've seen come from someone that has the ability to create riffs and ideas, but just doesn't know how to connect them to make them songs. So enjoy the lesson, I hope it helps you unlock that ability that you already have.

    Until next time


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