#1
Hi guys

I am into composing and writing my own stuff, and i would like to play songs knowing what and why im doing, and how the musicians managed to write it.

For instance, one of my top band is megadeth. Do anyone knows the key, scales, modes, and musical approach these guys "used to" make??

And if i want to explore other bands or songs, is there any website where i can look at the harmonic analysis of the thing?

Thank you very much

Keep rockin´
#2
I don't know about websites but I could barely agree with you more. There's got to be more to Metal song than the usual advice," Use Aeolian/Minor and learn music theory. Have tight rhythm and a good ear." That doesn't explain what the rhythm guitar and bass are doing nor the does it help get analyzed examples for most of us. We should do more theoretical Metal analysis around here.

You may want to check out Mowtown music as Dave Mustaine grew up on that and it was a heavy influence on Megadeth. The only tips I have for that are accent the upbeat and be honest lyrically. Other things that influenced him include early British Heavy Metal (especially Iron Maiden and Diamond Head) and the Beatles (early influence). I know that doesn't really help but I thought it was interesting.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).
#3
RonaldPoe i agree with you.
But that doesnt answer my question.

People say : learn pentatonic and natural and harmonic minor, learn the modes, triads, etc...
But why do we have to be so selfiish in teaching each other?

Example of death´s chuck schuldiner: people say he didnt have guitar theory and all he played and composed was by ear. If so, why is there a logical equation in each and everyone of their songs with correlation between keys and scales.. cmon....of course with key changes and a lot of chromatic...not completely "by ear" at all
#4
I guess the way Megadeth writes songs is just Mustaine coming up with good sounding riffs and gluing them together. I doubt they think that much about theory. They just play what sounds good to them.

Use your ears and just figure out what's happening in the songs. That's really the best way to learn their style. Compare different Megadeth riffs to each other and you may notice some common patterns. I haven't listened to their music a lot but one thing I have noticed is that besides power chords they tend to use parallel major thirds in their riffs.

There are really not that many harmonies to analyze. Most songs are just one riff repeated x times, then another riff repeated y times. And those riffs are usually based on one "chord" or a single "harmonic function" (what I mean is that there's a "riff in E", then there's a "riff in F#", etc). That's how most thrash metal is.

Yeah, I would suggest finding the key center of the riffs and analyzing the song structure. Pay attention to the transitions. How are the different riffs glued together? What makes the transition work (or does it even work that well)?


Also, scales and modes (especially) are kind of irrelevant here. They don't really help you much with understanding Megadeth's (or any other band's) music.
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
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 24, 2016,
#5
Well, what do you want to know exactly? Chuck's music sounds logical because thats what sounds good. Music theory is not some sort of arcane knowledge that enables you to just conjure up riffs, its just a description of how different notes sound compared to one another. Not knowing what a harmonic minor scale is does not prevent you from figuring it out by ear and playing it. So just because Chuck didnt know theory, doesnt mean he didnt hear what sounds good and what doesnt.

There is also no formula or a certain algorythm that these guys used to write riffs. Its not like they went "well, i guess i need to ad a diminished arpeggio after this, because thats what the theory tells me". Hell, just listen to the riff in poison was the cure and then the one in symphony of destruction. They sound completely different, and thats because they werent just written by some sort of formula. The writers simply went with what sounded good. And it turns out that in metal music, what sounds good and captures the appropriate feeling is mostly pentatonic, natural minor, harmonic minor scales and stuff like that.
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#6
Quote by tomasmaria6
RonaldPoe i agree with you.
But that doesnt answer my question.

People say : learn pentatonic and natural and harmonic minor, learn the modes, triads, etc...
But why do we have to be so selfiish in teaching each other?

Example of death´s chuck schuldiner: people say he didnt have guitar theory and all he played and composed was by ear. If so, why is there a logical equation in each and everyone of their songs with correlation between keys and scales.. cmon....of course with key changes and a lot of chromatic...not completely "by ear" at all


Because theory doesn't tell you what to play, it simply describes what has been played. Like others have said, people don't compose by cherry-picking from a list of theory terms then sticking them together like lego bricks.

People write music by deciding what sounds good, and whilst you can use theory to describe the end product you can't use it to reverse-engineer the creative process - writing music is an organic endeavour, you can't reduce it down to a formula or an equation.
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#7
Every musician is using theory, whether he knows it or not.

As for Megadeth, they mainly use minor scales, often including the flat fifth in the riffs. Dave's known for working chromatics into his music (listen to the chord progression in Hanger 18). I'm not a big theorist, but hope that helps.
#8
You can definitely do a key change without knowing what it is. You can just learn the sound. You don't need to know the explanation. That's how most thrash metal (and actually any kind of rock/metal, except for prog) musicians are. They know the sounds they are after. They listen to music and get inspiration from it.

Knowing the explanation helps with internalizing the sound and it makes it easier to see connections between different songs. But you can know the sound without knowing the explanation. That just requires you to use your ears.

Just because something makes sense doesn't mean who wrote it knows anything about theory. Theory is descriptive. It explains what happens in music. It's not some kind of a "secret formula" to writing great songs. Theory is basically a way of describing what's happening in music with words.

Music existed first. Then people figured out a way of explaining what's happening in music. Most of the time people just write what sounds good to them. They may just noodle around with their guitar or they may hear a nice melody in their head. You don't need to know anything about theory to do that.

Quote by Leather Sleeves
Every musician is using theory, whether he knows it or not.


I disagree. Yes, all music can be explained by music theory. But that doesn't mean the musicians are "using theory". To "use theory" (I assume that means "use theory knowledge"/"apply your knowledge of theory") you need to know theory first. Yes, music will most likely naturally follow certain kind of patterns. But I don't think that's the same as "using theory". Theory is the explanation for what's happening in music. You can write music without knowing the explanation.

There is no "theory of music". Theory is just a language that explains sounds and common practices in music.
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
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at May 25, 2016,
#9
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I disagree. Yes, all music can be explained by music theory. But that doesn't mean the musicians are "using theory". To "use theory" (I assume that means "use theory knowledge"/"apply your knowledge of theory") you need to know theory first. Yes, music will most likely naturally follow certain kind of patterns. But I don't think that's the same as "using theory". Theory is the explanation for what's happening in music. You can write music without knowing the explanation.

There is no "theory of music". Theory is just a language that explains sounds and common practices in music.


Yes, good point.
#10
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Theory is prescriptive.

Guessing you meant Theory is descriptive or Theory isn't prescriptive. Not trying to be a grammar nazi, but that was in opposition to the rest of your post and everything I've ever seen you say. Guessing it was a typo or something.


But yea, with most metal, including thrash, there's not really much harmonic movement going on. Hell, there's plenty of songs that you could think of the whole thing being one big E. When examining those kinds of songs I'm looking more at the intervals they're using and where, with what kind of rhythmic accents. They do often loosely form some kind of minor scale, but when writing that kind of music you really don't have to and shouldn't stick perfectly to a scale. Not saying there aren't thrash songs that have harmonic movement. For example, Megadeth's Symphony of Destruction's chorus could be seen as kinda like a E C D Bm chord progression, though there's a lot of chromaticism. Looks like he was combining power chords and triad shapes with some chromatic notes in interesting ways.

Genres like jazz fusion or prog metal often have riffs that can be looked at in a chord progression kind of way, so you can do harmonic analysis on those. Basically the notes in the riffs form chords and they might use full blown chords. Stuff like Cynic and Opeth.
#11
God Cynic is so good. But that's a whole different level of harmonic complexity.

Most of the thrash guys, as stated above, are not thinking about keys or chord progressions, but movement around a single pitch, MAYBE a single scale.

Pretty much half of Holy Wars is the note E with a ton of embellishment. The other half is a simple chord progression in Em, IIRC.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#12
Quote by The4thHorsemen
Guessing you meant Theory is descriptive or Theory isn't prescriptive. Not trying to be a grammar nazi, but that was in opposition to the rest of your post and everything I've ever seen you say. Guessing it was a typo or something.



Yes. Of course.
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
#13
After all. Any ideas where i can get any theory in progr constructions and composing techniques most commonly used in metal??


Thanks guys
#14
Looks like this is the book for you:
https://muse.jhu.edu/article/392369

To appreciate that, you'll probably need some grounding in more general theory of rock music:
http://openmusictheory.com/popRockHarmony.html
and this:
http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/mto.04.10.4/mto.04.10.4.w_everett.html
plus of course some kind of primer on the classical terminology being used (plenty of choice there).

Hope that's enough to be going on with for now...

...Face it, you're better off with a slowdowner learning some megadeth songs. How do you think they did it? Reading theory? Nope. Asking questions on internet forums? They did it by copying sounds they liked - learning songs by their favourite bands - and messing around with them to find other sounds they liked. Hey you're lucky you've got the internet, but you get what you pay for....
Last edited by jongtr at May 27, 2016,
#15
Half-whole scales (with the lowest note on your guitar as your "tonic") is the best way to go about writing brutal sounding metal.

0-4-3-0-1-0-7-6-0-1-07-6---44443333777766660000666677773333-0-0-0-0-4-1-3-1... etc
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.