Ok so I've been playing guitar for almost three years now, I know all the pentatonic positions. And the basic position for a couple modes. How the hell am I supposed to use this information to piece together a song? I know it sounds dumb, but how am I supposed to write several riffs that can go together in the same key? Is there rules and whatnot that tell me what chords and notes I can use next, if so what are they? I play metal, how can I effectively use a pentatonic for it? Or should I learn a completely new scale and all of it's positions? I'm just stuck.. I don't know what I'm supposed to learn. I'm trying to start a band, I have no real problems with technical playing and learning songs, but I don't understand the rules behind writing I feel like there's much more to it than just playing shit from the scale in chords then soloing out of a key, I've become rather good at improv, but I don't want to only improv solos anymore, I want to write elaborate songs now. HELP ME, point me in the right direction.
Bestow upon me magic
Wizard, all knowing, all wise (solo)
I want to rule this kingdom
Make sweet the breeze now defiled (solo)
Dethrone the evil prince's iron fists
In velvet gloves of sin (solo)
Play an A5 Diad, Play Am Pentatonic. There you have a song. Define Elaborate... Elaborate could mean composing atonal pieces to playing chormatic notes over a given key. Basically, YOU define what you want... not ME. Learning theory allows you to explain things and compose pieces in a style given you want to compose classical/jazz. If you think you should learn theory; do it.
I'm not the best at writing songs, and I haven't written many, but I wouldn't approach things from a theory first, music second point of view.
Meaning, there are no rules to follow. You don't need to only use chords from within a single key, or use a certain scale to solo over a certain chord, or anything. You certainly can use what you already know to come up with a kickin rad solo or song. Many great songs have been written only using a pentatonic scale. Many great songs have been written using much less than that.

Use theory to be able to describe what you're doing and understand why it sounds good. It can also certainly help you be able to discover things you might want to use that you didn't know existed to help you achieve the sounds you're after - learning anything from voice leading, counterpoint, syncopation, can help you discover and achieve the sound you are looking for or give you new ideas. However, you shouldn't use only the theory you know to write a song - your sound ends up being limited by your knowledge, when it doesn't need to be.

The only single rule is music: If it sounds good, do it. You can sort out the theory behind it afterwards.
I feel like Ive been saying this a bit lately....

Listen.... to..... Sean.....
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.
Pentatonic is very usable for soloing in metal but not for harmony. You need the minor and major scales. Also develop an understanding of how accidental / chromatic notes can 'metallise' your riffs.

Power chords sound appropriate in metal and are very easy to play and to work with. For example, you could experiment with riffing on power chords built off the E minor scale (E5, F#5, G5 etc.) This is very cliched but it's fundamental to heavy metal (as opposed to heavy rock) and you can branch out and take it somewhere else when you're ready.
Last edited by Jehannum at Nov 17, 2011,
First and foremost, use your ears. To get started, noodle around a little until you hit on a riff you like. Record it. Listen to it, get to know it, then play around until you find a riff that is different, but sounds good with the first one you recorded. Record that, and you've got the basis for a very simple verse-chorus-verse-chorus song format. Throughout the whole process, use your knowledge of theory, scale shapes, etc. as kind of a map to guide you in what notes and chords you play.

Also, you said you're good at learning songs, so take some time to analyze songs you like and see how they're constructed. How does the chorus riff differ from the verse? How about the bridge? Try to take those ideas and implement them in your own writing.

Hope that helps!
starting theory lessons wednesday. thanks guys. ive been taking technique lessons for a few months now, so theory will be a good mix up.
Bestow upon me magic
Wizard, all knowing, all wise (solo)
I want to rule this kingdom
Make sweet the breeze now defiled (solo)
Dethrone the evil prince's iron fists
In velvet gloves of sin (solo)
Good luck to you - hope it helps you understand and make the music you want to create!

Theory is fun man, its not a set of rules, it just explains a whole lot of options that are there. I find that there's a point where theory becomes unique in that its the "road less travelled", in that there aren't a lot of people using theory, that are studying it till it fits in their thought process' in real time, using it to dig in and explore progressions, or why something works. And when you start doing that - your music and the way you understand your own creative power can change, and now you don't sound like everyone else, because you aren't THINKING like everyone else. You don't perceive the music like everyone else. It takes you to a whole different place.

When you realize you have the power, and knowledge and how understanding how to apply it changed the entire game, you're never the same. This is one of those blazing rays of sunshine moments I live for when I am teaching our students. Once that happens, I've succeeded.

Good luck to you, and APPLY everything you "learn" or you've learned nothing. Ask anyone that studies with us. Big difference between knowing about something and then being called to DO it.


Last edited by Sean0913 at Nov 27, 2011,