#1
I've been into black metal for about 10 years, and I have a pretty decent understanding of the fundamentals of it.

What I don't understand is, why not throw in a part with a major chord every now and then? I totally understand that the overall mood is supposed to be desolate and depressive, but I've been trying like hell lately to do something interesting and different while still (kind of) staying trve (lol) to black metal.

Something that I found awesome was, writing a good solid amount of depressive minor chords, tremolo picking, blasphemy, etc... Then within the same part, I move from a minor chord to the next chord (that is minor until this point), and instead change it to a major.

It's super spontaneous and it isn't exactly happy sounding. I'd call it triumphant. I love BM, but I will admit that it's stagnating for the most part (not including Deathspell Omega, Nachtmystium and the 2nd wave Norweigian bands).

Why are people so reluctant to mess with the formula? Are they that afraid of getting made fun of by elitists? Are there any guitarists that mainly write black metal here that throw in major chords for contrast? Or really just anything unorthodox in general?
#2
Regardless of whether your in a major key or a minor key some of the chords in that key will be major - you get the chords by harmonising the major scale and the sequences you'll get are

major key maj min min maj maj min dim
minor key min dim maj min min maj maj

so if we take E as our tonic we get these sequences

Chords of E major E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim
Chords of E minor Em F#dim G Am Bm C D


So let's say your song is in Em, if you use a G chord in your progression then really it should be a G major, a G minor is going to sound kind of off. Now that may be the sound you're going for, but the approach "I'm not writing a happy song here therefore i'll just use minor chords" doesn't really work no. Obviously if you're in Em and the only chords you use happen to be the ones that are minor anyway then it's going to work out fine, but there's a reason for it working, it's not simply random.

If your progression isn't strictly diatonic then things admittedly get a lot more fuzzy and you're solely reliant on your ears to tell you what's going to work for you.
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#3
Major chords aren't happy and minor chords aren't sad. That's not how it is. You can make "spooky" sounds with using major chords. Try playing E major/minor and Bb major. Or E minor and Eb major.

Diatonic chord progressions don't really sound "evil". That's just how it is. You could try them but I think the "evil" sound comes from using accidentals. Minor chords a major or a minor third away sound pretty "evil" to me (for example Em-Cm or Em-Gm). You could also try diminished chords. Experiment.
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#4
listen to more DSBM and more 'modern' black metal like emperor, ulver, leviathan

usually those kinda guys aren't afraid of experimentation
modes are a social construct
#5
Using a variety of chords can draw attention to the tonality of others. Using minor chords all the time will eventually just kind of blur together.
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#6
Quote by BladeSlinger
Using a variety of chords can draw attention to the tonality of others. Using minor chords all the time will eventually just kind of blur together.


have you ever listened to black metal

that's kinda the effect you want most of the time
modes are a social construct
#7
Quote by Hail
have you ever listened to black metal

that's kinda the effect you want most of the time

Isn't the whole point of this thread getting away from that? Playing minor chords endlessly lessens the effect that a lot of Black Metal goes for. One major chord can make the following chords more accented. Tension and release.


And yes, I've listened to Black Metal. Not a whole lot but I have a few bands.
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#8
Quote by darksatan666lol
Something that I found awesome was, writing a good solid amount of depressive minor chords, tremolo picking, blasphemy,


That's really funny.

"Hey man, I heard you play guitar right? What music do you play"
"Black Metal"
"What are your favorite guitar techniques to use with that?"
"Oh you know, all the basic stuff: palm muting, minor chords, tremolo picking, blasphemy. Occasionally, I'll sacrifice a 9-year old."
"Cool stuff!"

Black Metal, now part of a balanced breakfast.
"I agree with Matthew about everything" - Everyone
#9
i remember an article here on ug i cbb finding on my phone but there was a bit something along the lines of 'when you play chords, only use minor tonalities. when you play a major chord, it inspires hope. in black metal, there is no hope'

i've always thought that article deserved a pulitzer
modes are a social construct
#10
Just learn to unlock the mysteries of the Locrian mode. They hardly ever talk about it because it's so 'death' sounding, if you are apt to summon the demons from hell...
#11
Erm...what kind of BM have you been listening to, TS? I can think of several examples of use of major chords in BM. Hell, in Emperor's last album, they used non-diatonic (and a few, frankly, weird-sounding) chords a lot.
#12
Quote by Hail
i remember an article here on ug i cbb finding on my phone but there was a bit something along the lines of 'when you play chords, only use minor tonalities. when you play a major chord, it inspires hope. in black metal, there is no hope'

i've always thought that article deserved a pulitzer


I think I actually remember that article too! It was quite funny.

Also whenever I see "BM", I think "Bowel Movement". Maybe that says something about me.
"I agree with Matthew about everything" - Everyone
#13
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Erm...what kind of BM have you been listening to, TS? I can think of several examples of use of major choerds in BM. Hell, in Emperor's last album, they used non-diatonic (and a few, frankly, weird-sounding) chords a lot.

if you think emperor's the norm of black metal, you don't listen to a lot of black metal. they may as well be the dream theater of black metal
modes are a social construct
#14
Quote by Hail
listen to more DSBM and more 'modern' black metal like emperor, ulver, leviathan

usually those kinda guys aren't afraid of experimentation


Leviathan is one of my favorite BM bands right now. Also, his side band with Blake from Nachtmystium is pretty experimental if you can get over all of the post-rock undertones.

Anyway, I wasn't implying that major is always happy and minor is always sad.

What I meant was, BM, for the most part, tries to stay as dissonant and drone like as possible. I'm talking about pulling out a note that is completely juxtapose to the previous chord.

There's something demented about a part that sounds uplifting and jubilant amongst a dreary atmosphere. If anyone's seen the movie Anti Christ, you will know what I'm talking about. The whole movie is just dark as hell, but there is classical, and opera music, mostly in major scales that clash (in a good way) with the tone of the film.

Maybe, there are BM bands doing this already that I don't know about. Or maybe I should just stop over thinking the genre, and just record my weird stuff that probably won't go over too well with the BM old timers. I'm releasing my stuff for free anyway...

I was mainly just looking for other opinions on "breaking BM rules."

I don't know how to multiquote, but Hail.

You're comment about not using chords that inspire hope was interesting.

That's my main problem right there. Hopelessness is too one dimensional. I embrace hopelessness and I can relate to a lot of the feelings invoked by BM, but if I'm only projecting the typical negative atmosphere, I'm lying to myself as a writer.

I think BM should project torment, feelings of being ostracized, the struggle between purpose and nihilism, hatred and sorrow...

but I think within that there should be beauty, complexity (tonally), a feeling of longing, and a love and connection to everything not human... Struggle can't really exist without hope, even if that hope is sadistic and self serving.
Last edited by darksatan666lol at Jul 12, 2013,
#15
as far as whether people will consider it trvv or kvlt enough to be real black metal is your issue

i'd rather listen to diagnose:leb over mayhem any day, but i'm also a mike patton fan so i'm prob not the guy to ask about the validity of artistic expression despite convention

but do what you want, it won't hurt anything
modes are a social construct
#16
^ I'm going to do that regardless. There's no reason not to.

This project is for me, my friends and whoever else accidentally stumbles upon it.

Still, I am always very interested in what other Black Metallers have to say. I wasn't really looking for help to solve a problem. I was simply asking "why?"
#17
There's Black Metal that uses non-minor chords. There is no rule that says you have to use them. Inquisition, Varathron, Rotting Christ, Summoning, Wodensthrone, Sui Cadere, Ras Algethi, and so on and so forth use tones that aren't strictly minor.
#19
That's what harmonic minor is for. An ominous song can be made all the better with a tense V7-i cadence.
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#20
Who cares if your music is black metal or not? Just write music and experiment. That way you'll write something new and won't repeat what 50 artists have done before you.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
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Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#21
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Who cares if your music is black metal or not? Just write music and experiment. That way you'll write something new and won't repeat what 50 artists have done before you.


I care if my music is black metal. I have a very particular style I'm trying to project. It's just where I'm at right now. I've been in numerous bands, none of which were black metal so I'm adamant about finally releasing a BM record.

I find it difficult to hear what I write from an audience perspective. Experimentation is crucial, but it can go too far. The same can be said about cuisine. You don't want to mix chocolate and ketchup. You don't want to put blast beats in classic rock, and you don't want to incorporate pop punk and death metal.

There are just obvious boundaries. That's just the way it is. As free form and infinite as musical expression may seem, there are basic rules. Still, it's obviously subjective. Some people like terrible art, photography, music, etc., but there is still a particular aesthetic regarded as being generally good.

I'm probably gonna post some of my music soon. The recording quality is garbage, but that's because I'm just using an RC-30 loopstation, importing WAV files to my PC and layering them over programmed drums. I plan on going to a high end studio eventually.

That's one cliche I'm definitely willing to break. I want a polished production. No pro tools or anything, but a lot of clarity.
#22
This is the least black metal thing I have. It's pretty sludgy but definitely has that frosty blackness to it. I usually tune D standard but I felt like messing around so I dropped my E string to G (so the top 2 strings are an octave apart). I'm pretty pleased with the end result.

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5WmtUGQWdRQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
#23
Quote by darksatan666lol
There are just obvious boundaries. That's just the way it is. As free form and infinite as musical expression may seem, there are basic rules. Still, it's obviously subjective. Some people like terrible art, photography, music, etc., but there is still a particular aesthetic regarded as being generally good.

You're implying that you absolutely HAVE to limit yourself to the damn rules. You can still have the Black Metal aesthetic and not follow the rules 100%. Yes, it may not be KVLT, but who cares? That's a silly notion anyway.
#25
Genres are BS. They aren't objective facts.

Just write good music. It can have BM influence but if it's not BM, it's not the end of the world. You write something a bit different but maybe it's just a good thing. Even if you experiment, you won't end up mixing pop and black metal in the same song. At least that's very unlikely. What I meant by experimenting is to retain the feeling you are after but try different things. For example if major chords don't change the feeling of the song and that's what you hear in your head, I would use major chords.

IMO you shouldn't pick a genre that you are going to write. You first write music and see what genre it belongs to. Some people may say it's not black metal enough to be black metal. But so what? If you like it, it's the main point. And black metal listeners may like it too. I'm sure most people listen to more than just one subgenre. And if black metal listeners don't like it, I'm sure there are some other listeners that like it.

You won't end up writing a pop song if you aren't after a pop song feeling. It will still sound pretty much like black metal but it will have some other influences in it too.

You said you are sick of being confined to minor chords. Then try something different! You want to write music you like. You can even see it yourself: You have limited yourself to only use minor chords and you don't like it. There are no rules in music so don't follow them!
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#26
^ I understand exactly what you are saying, dude. I'm just saying sometimes stuff clashes, so you aren't truly limitless. A death metal riff followed by a Surf Pop riff generally doesn't sound good. Yes, I know Mr. Bungle has done weirder stuff, but Mike Patton is an alien, and most people I know who like Mr. Bungle like it because it is experimental, not musically cohesive.

I have a way with words. Often, I have trouble putting what I feel into words. I usually end up with my foot in my mouth. Please bare with me.

Also, when I used the word "aesthetic," I didn't mean in regards to black metal. Apart from album artwork, I'll have no aesthetic whatsoever. Not doing corpse paint. Not even playing live. I'm just one dude doing this alone.

I tried embedding my youtube video, but it didn't work.

Black metal riffage starts at 1:32 if you are bored with the sludge metal intro.

Here's the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WmtUGQWdRQ


That should be proof that I am not trying "kvlt" and certainly not afraid of experimentation. Elitists would cringe at drop tuning my low E to G. I typically tune to D standard, but the tuning on the song I posted is G-G-C-F-A-D.

I don't try to write a specific way, but in some cases I do edit songs a certain way.

If I was trying to be completely traditional black metal, I'd tune to E, or Eb, stop using doom-esque bends, forsake repeating parts and I certainly stop using bright, musical chords.

I have to reread everything I posted here. I feel like I've been very clear that I'm not asking permission to experiment. The use of more major chords just seemed like an interesting subject, considering most black metal guitar articles preach "NO major scales or chords!"

Thanks for all the band recommendations, guys. They will certainly be in rotation on my ipod. I can't believe I didn't think of Agalloch when I started this thread. They have some pretty bright, uplifting stuff for BM.
Last edited by darksatan666lol at Jul 14, 2013,
#27
Quote by darksatan666lol


What I don't understand is, why not throw in a part with a major chord every now and then? I totally understand that the overall mood is supposed to be desolate and depressive, but I've been trying like hell lately to do something interesting and different while still (kind of) staying trve (lol) to black metal.

So throw in a major chord.

Quote by darksatan666lol

Something that I found awesome was, writing a good solid amount of depressive minor chords, tremolo picking, blasphemy, etc... Then within the same part, I move from a minor chord to the next chord (that is minor until this point), and instead change it to a major.

Okay, cool you did that already


Quote by darksatan666lol

Why are people so reluctant to mess with the formula? Are they that afraid of getting made fun of by elitists? Are there any guitarists that mainly write black metal here that throw in major chords for contrast? Or really just anything unorthodox in general?

Probably because black metal is a pretty conservative form of music. I'd also go so far as to say that alot of black metal musicians aren't the most competent in the world, (not a dig at you, of course) so gracefully executed experimentation may be rare in the genre.

I think in general if you want to make something cool, forget about genres and create something unique to your voice.
#28
Quote by darksatan666lol
Also, when I used the word "aesthetic," I didn't mean in regards to black metal. Apart from album artwork, I'll have no aesthetic whatsoever. Not doing corpse paint. Not even playing live. I'm just one dude doing this alone.

I meant "aesthetic", as in the BM sound, the BM tone. The BM music style, as it were. (As an example, when you think of classical music, you typically think of a certain style of composing, right? If I get even more specific, like Baroque, you think of an even more specific style, right? Same thing here.) You don't have to be confined solely to what's safe to still be Black Metal; the band Emperor proved this many times. Other bands have also proved this. (I just really like Emperor's work.)

I tried embedding my youtube video, but it didn't work.

Black metal riffage starts at 1:32 if you are bored with the sludge metal intro.

Here's the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WmtUGQWdRQ


That should be proof that I am not trying "kvlt" and certainly not afraid of experimentation.

Ok, cool. If you're not afraid of experimentation, as you put it, then why would you care if it's part of the stereotypical formula to throw a major chord in there?


As an aside, is there a rhythm guitar part under that tremolo picking? Because it's very hard to hear any rhythm guitar (which is why I can't tell if there is one) with the drums as loud as they are. Of course, it may just be Youtube messing with it...

Elitists would cringe at drop tuning my low E to G. I typically tune to D standard, but the tuning on the song I posted is G-G-C-F-A-D.

Actually, I would cringe, because that's a wack tuning. I just can't see a good reasoning for dropping your low string all the way down to G and essentially creating an octave with your 2nd highest string. But whatever floats your boat.


I have to reread everything I posted here. I feel like I've been very clear that I'm not asking permission to experiment. The use of more major chords just seemed like an interesting subject, considering most black metal guitar articles preach "NO major scales or chords!"

Sounds like some elitist nonsense to me...

Thanks for all the band recommendations, guys. They will certainly be in rotation on my ipod. I can't believe I didn't think of Agalloch when I started this thread. They have some pretty bright, uplifting stuff for BM.

Pretty sure early Agalloch is Doom Metal with a few folk bits. Later Agalloch could be called Post-Metal really.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jul 14, 2013,
#29
^ The tuning is for the drone, and it fills the void of lacking a bass guitar or convincing bass programming software. I got the idea from Dave Grohl actually. He drops his E string to A for one song, which is essentially what I did but one step higher. It's certainly not the most practical tuning and I don't plan on using it much. Maybe on 1 out of every 30 songs I write. It's cool to be able to get that Electric Wizard, Celtic Frost Monotheist tone without down tuning your entire guitar.

I may see how the song sounds in standard tuning with inverted power chords as well, but I'm pretty happy with the bass and thickness of this track. I'm confident that it will sound monstrous in a high quality studio.

The drums are programmed and the guitar is recorded in a loop station pedal, so yeah... the levels are off and the quality is garbage. Just a demo. I like to record everything I have (hastily) so I don't forget it.

As far as the tremolo part goes, there is rhythm guitar, except during some of the harmonies because it can get pretty muddy with 3 guitars. It's all done out of FL studio demo version so I don't have many options. I'll try turning down the drums. I'm primarily a drummer so you can see how my bias would lead me to have them soaring high in the mix.
#30
Quote by darksatan666lol
^ The tuning is for the drone, and it fills the void of lacking a bass guitar or convincing bass programming software. I got the idea from Dave Grohl actually. He drops his E string to A for one song, which is essentially what I did but one step higher. It's certainly not the most practical tuning and I don't plan on using it much. Maybe on 1 out of every 30 songs I write. It's cool to be able to get that Electric Wizard, Celtic Frost Monotheist tone without down tuning your entire guitar.

Well, ok, that makes sense. I just wasn't sure if you were doing it because it sounded cool or whatever.
Although, if you ever leave in that tuning for more than a few hours, I'd advise you to re-set up your guitar (including truss rod adjustment).

About the recording itself (as well as where to find free and legal [and good] VSTi's to use as a bass robot or whatever), I'd advise you to drop by the recording forum if you want advice on that.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jul 14, 2013,
#31
i like you TS. you've got some taste to you
modes are a social construct
#32
For what it's worth, that song was pretty cool. Now I'm just wondering what the hell you're looking for us to tell you. It looks like you can write sludgy BM stuff pretty well. I'm really digging the doomy influence in that song -- I say run with that. You don't want to be another "typical" black metal act. I say keep going with the formula you have going there.

And send me a link when you do. That song was sick as f***.
#33
Quote by ExDementia
For what it's worth, that song was pretty cool. Now I'm just wondering what the hell you're looking for us to tell you. It looks like you can write sludgy BM stuff pretty well. I'm really digging the doomy influence in that song -- I say run with that. You don't want to be another "typical" black metal act. I say keep going with the formula you have going there.

And send me a link when you do. That song was sick as f***.


Not really looking for an answer. Just a conversation about the stagnancy of black metal. This thread can die now. I found a couple cool new bands out of the whole deal.

Thank you for the compliments! Not all of my stuff is so doom inspired. I have other stuff with less dynamics. I really felt like having a slower song and this happened. I could send you some other stuff but the quality is worse than what I posted. I'm releasing everything for free once I record in a proper studio.
#34
Quote by darksatan666lol
I'm releasing everything for free once I record in a proper studio.

If you're interested in recording it yourself, you could drop by the Recording forum and check out the stickies there. (There's even a sticky that should help with getting a decent but relatively cheap recording interface, if you don't have a good one.)
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=&f=40

You can also around in the Chat thread if you have any issues and need help or whatever.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jul 15, 2013,
#35
stop advertising your forum you little shit he's ours
modes are a social construct
#36
Haha.

I would like to record whatever I can at home, but I am an idiot and sold my drums to help with moving 3000 miles across the country. I'm gonna probably record drums at a studio to use a house kit. Programmed drums are fine for demos but I've been drumming four times as long as I've been playing guitar so I care more about good sounding percussion than anything else.

This is so far off topic now. I'll definitely be looking into a convincing bass programming software.
#37
if you can invest, trillian is the premiere software for bass vstis rn

similarly, toontracks' superior drummer gets a lot of great press. nothing will really replace live drums, but honestly most studios even will use samples to reinforce the live sound, so you could always invest in an e-kit or just learn your DAW like a zen master if you'd prefer a cheaper/more long-term investment
modes are a social construct
#38
just want to take this opportunity to plug one of my favorite songs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68KaPvsrjDc
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