I am just a beginner. However, I really like melodic death metal and wonder if there are any scales for improvising or making melodic death metal riffs. Are there any? If not, then what scales are good to learn if you want to improvise metal riffs/solos? Maybe this is too far ahead for me to learn yet but I still wonder.
Last edited by Zerpent93 at Oct 22, 2014,
The standard scales: minor, harmonic minor. It's all about the way you play them and the other instrumentation going on around the riff.

The best idea is to look at a bunch of songs that sound the way you like and examine what about them that gives them that sound. That's everything from note choice and rhythm in the guitar work to the other guitar parts, bass, drums, vocals; there are so many elements that go in to that sound it's definitely not just about what notes you choose.
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Scales will not be the solution to your problem, studying actual melodic death metal songs will.

To put it into an analogy, if you are learning scales you are learning the alphabet of the musical world. Which is great, it is always great to know which letters (notes) makes up a word (phrase/riff). But if you don't learn any words (riffs/phrases) or sentences (songs), your vocabulary will only consist of knowing the alphabet and trying to string together letters (notes) into something that might sound like a word (phrase/riff). In order to get good you have to have a extensive vocabulary of words and sentences you like and know how to use, and each vocabulary is different, just like a mechanic and a doctor have specific words in their vocabulary for their profession, musicians of different styles use different vocabularies. Same language, but different vocabulary.

Learn the theory behind the normal scales (major, minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor), meaning learn what intervals make up those scales. Then learn parts from songs and compare them to the scale formula for that information. You might find for example"Oh this riff of In Flames uses a natural minor scale over this chord progression and gives me this kind of sound." or "This song by Ensiferum uses harmonic minor over the same chord progression as that In Flames tune, and this is how the sound differs".

The best way to learn is to take what you like from recordings (preferably by ear), analyze it and then play with it as much as you can (put it in different keys, change the notes, change the phrasing, make a rhythm riff a solo phrase or vise versa). Study what you like and learn to use that. You will be very rigid at first when improvising with it, but the more vocabulary you get the more flexible you get.

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