#1
Hello, this is my first post here, and may likely result in some abuse and a flame war.  

 I do not know why, but this bothers me badly. Like nails on a chalkboard. So, I’m writing about it.

Okay, I play some guitar, and the style of music that made me pick up the guitar is metal, particularly the band Megadeth. I do not play solos (yet). Only rhythm. And my focus in this post is metal rhythm. Not solos.

The first song I learnt to play was Symphony of Destruction. Soon, the rest of the Megadeth catalogue followed....Holy Wars, She-Wolf, Kick The Chair, Sleepwalker...

At the same time, I also learnt Metallica riffs.

Now, think of it from my point of view (back then), as a new guitar player, who picks up things from videos, tabs, and listening by ear and learns all these metal tunes. But, if someone asked me to play the Happy Birthday song (in which you would use the chords G, D and C), I could not. Sounds silly? It isn’t. 

To someone who has only played riffs, powerchords and diads; a chord, or which chord to use in which circumstance is an alien concept. 

Musically, thrash metal bands like The Big 4 are just a faster Green Day. I don’t think people would worship Billy Joel Armstrong as a guitar god. Then why do they do Mustaine when he is a pretty mediocre player (albeit a great songwriter)? Metallica is actually the most diverse band in The Big 4 and Hetfield the most diverse rhythm guitarist. So, why do people say Mustaine is more technical than Hetfield?

Many of these guys are not guitar players at all. They are metal players. That’s it. It’s like being an artist that can only paint with black and gunmetal grey. Such an artist is no artist at all.


I soon realised that most popular metal; The Big 4, Lamb of God, even a band like Chuck Schuldiner’s Death (and hell, any time you put on heavy distortion on a guitar), is rhythmically an extremely limited form of guitar playing. It doesn’t use the whole rhythmic potential of the guitar at all. 


And subsequently I realised, I never learnt to play guitar. I just learnt to play metal “rhythm” which sounds silly on an acoustic. What’s the point of being able to play Holy Wars when you cannot play a Backstreet Boys song or a Beatles song on an acoustic?


Funnily enough, it is through pop music that I actually learnt how to play acoustic and how to play chords. Something that metal never taught me.

Most metal rhythm is played rather fast. I would liken it to lifting weights. It takes practice to lift weights, but one would not classify it as a complex art form. Same with metal rhythm. Metal rhythm consists of power chords and their variants. That is, diads or “two note ‘chords’”. Playing diads is like hitting the same interval over and over again on a piano and not playing it freely. Metal solos are indeed complex.


Dave Mustaine is a songwriter I have always liked. But every time I watched his acoustic performances...I realised...the man does not know how to play chords at all! I have never seen him play as much as a C major chord or a barre chord. He plays acoustic the same way he plays electric; with power chords and diads. 

He cannot play a song like Nothing Else Matters or Mama Said. He cannot fingerpick. 

All he knows is that Dminor-esque progression that he uses in many songs like the Call of Ktulu, Hangar 18, My Last Words etc.

All the non-diad rhythms in Megadeth are always played by the lead guitarist (like in the A Tout Le Monde video below where Mustaine is only playing powerchords but the lead is playing everything else). This makes me wonder if Mustaine actually even came up with the clean intro in A Tout Le Monde, or just the riffs.


It feels so disappointing to see that.

Mustaine playing acoustic:






Hetfield playing acoustic:






Most “chords” in popular metal, look like this:

5th string: ---1---   ---2---  ---3---  ---4---  ---5--- ---6---
6th string: ---3---   ---3---  ---3---  ---3---  ---3--- ---3---

These aren’t even chords. Just simple intervals. A small 7 year old kid will be able to play this with a bit of guidance. This is the same stuff that is used in Punk Rock too. Play a few of these songs, and you can figure out the rest of them.

And of course, the most common thing in metal rhythm.
6th string: ---000000000000000000000000000---

Compare that to chords in other forms of music:

1st string: ---x--- --x--  --0--     --7--     --7--
2nd string: --3--   -3--  --0--     --0--     --7--
3rd string: ---4--- --3--  --8--     --9--     --8--
4th string: ---4--- --3-- --11--   --11--    --11--
5th string: ---x--- --x— --9--   --12--     --9--
6th string: ---3--- --3--  --7--     --x--     --7--

Personally, if these chords were played as individual notes, I’d figure them out easily. But, if they were played in chord form in a song, I would not be able to make it out, unless I was used to these chords, and these are not standard chords at all (though the first two are standard jazz chords). It's harder to figure out complex chords like this than the simple intervals used in metal.

Also, it is interesting, that metal “rhythm” is actually just lead. Lead guitar uses running through single notes, and playing diads, just like metal riffs. The only time there is proper rhythm guitar in metal is when metal bands do acoustic songs (like Nothing Else Matters), or they have clean interludes in metal songs (like Master of Puppets). 

The solos in metal are indeed hard (and they use arpeggios), but the rhythm is like playing a very very heavy (in terms of weight) kazoo. 


Compare that to well rounded guitarists like Mayer or Knopfler or Classical and Jazz guitarists who play complex chord progressions, arpegiatted chords, finger pick and basically play the guitar like a piano.


Generally when I point this out to metal heads, they say “Oh, but metal is such a diverse genre, you can’t put it into one block”. I’ve even seen comments like “You’re a moron, you don’t listen to metal”. Well, the counter argument is, most popular metal is that way. Metallica (most), Megadeth, Slayer, Lamb of God, All That Remains (most), Parkway Drive, Death, Hatebreed etc. Bands which are not like that are the exception rather than the rule.


Opeth is the only popular band that I can think of that plays complex chord progressions (like the entire Damnation album). And perhaps Periphery. I don’t really enjoy the musical style of Periphery; and Opeth, I like their Damnation album and a select few heavier numbers. Other bands that people link me to are such obscure bands that no one would know them until the few who do, mention them.

Also, somehow, there is a subset of people that call non-heavy bands “gay” and “talentless”. I don’t understand. If you put on distortion, palm mute and play powerchords with macho lyrics like “Born to bleed, fighting to succeed”, it makes your music somehow rhythmically rich? Take off all that distortion, and you have an extremely simplistic guitar form (albeit, which sounds good).

Compare that to a complex composition like "Private Investigations" by Mark Knopfler. Guys like Dave Mustaine or Kerry King simply cannot play such a song:




“Neon” by John Mayer is a lot harder to play and compose than anything off of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All album, for instance:

Neon:

Metal Militia (Metallica):

There are so many players that can absolutely shred, but ask them to play a Beatles song and they can’t.

Now, there is “technical metal”, perhaps something like the band Necrophagist (which is still running through single notes, albeit very fast):



Well, in non-distorted guitar forms, there is just as much, and sometimes even more technicality:

Tommy Emmanuel:



Al Di Meola: 



Before you tell me that heavy distortion does not lend itself very well to complex chords, I already know that. But that in itself, limits your ability to learn the guitar if that's the only kind of music you are playing. If you play just that, you will never learn to play a song like "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton, but I'm betting, it would be easier to switch to metal rhythm if you can play "Tears in Heaven". This, as a learner to me, felt kind of disappointing.


  
P.S I am usually linked to some relatively unknown bands that use more than just powerchords. I know they exist. But this is a general statement about popular metal.

This comment is not about the enoyability factor of metal music. Yes, metal is very enjoyable. I like it too. 

I feel bewildered that people that like metal bands, especially bands from the Big 4, shit on bands like Nickelback which have similar underlying rhythm guitar from a purely musical standpoint (actually Nickelback is a bit more diverse than Slayer and Megadeth). Wes Borland is another guitarist, who is from a band that is looked down upon (Limp Bizkit), but whose compositions are very creative and not the mere powerchord fueled ravings of thrash metal. Actually, I find that rock bands like Hoobastank have more creative rhythm than popular metal bands.

It is heresy to say this, but even a Justin Bieber acoustic performance has more difficult rhythm guitar than a lot of metal:



Also, when I talk of chords, I am not talking of the usual “4 chords songs” and the usual progressions used in pop music. Think of Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Chet Atkins, Tommy Emmanuel, Al Di Meola etc.
Last edited by doctorboom at Jul 7, 2017,
#2
this shouldn't really be a surprise. "metal" is pretty much lowbrow music, and anybody who thinks mustaine is a guitar god hasn't heard megadeth post-Rust in Peace
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#3
I read the whole post but I'm not sure if I still remember all of it (that's a lot of text), but here's a couple of thoughts.

What about drums? Bass guitar? Flute? Saxophone? Bassoon? None of those instruments is traditionally used to play chords. Does this make them inferior? It's a fairly new concept to me that complicated rhythm requires complex chords. I'm a bassist, and I never really play chords on the thing, just single note lines. But I'd never say that I'm playing lead, and I also think it's unfair to say that what I'm playing is musically inferior and not as difficult and complicated as chord progressions.

I know you're talking about metal guitar, but even then, I think you're missing the point of the entire genre. Metal is based heavily around rhythm, metal songs often have a strong forward drive and catchy rhythm. And you don't really need chords to achieve that. The point here being, that metal doesn't need to be more complex than what it is, riffs and power chords are exactly what make the genre enjoyable. It's about the attitude and the feeling you get when you listen to metal, not the complexity of performance. You say that metal guitarists really aren't that impressive to you anymore, but what about metal drummers? Metal and rock drummers are often hailed as masters of their craft. This just further illustrates how rhythm is such an important factor in metal, and makes a bigger impact on the feeling of the song than complicated chords.

You also need to remember that guitar is an exceptional instrument in it's ability to play chords. Not many instruments among common band and orchestral instruments are designed for this purpose. We have keyboards, other string instruments like banjos and harps, maybe tuned percussions like marimbas and glockenspiels, but on the other hand we have instruments that can't/usually don't play chords like Bass guitar, drums, vocals, violins, cellos, flutes, trumpets, oboes, bongos, congas, and more or less all western bowed instruments, percussions and wind instruments. Saying that the ability to play chords is essential to being a good musician, is dismissing a huge majority of our musical culture.

And you yourself said multiple times: "Mustaine is a good songwriter". Well, if this is the case, why does it matter how technical the music is? The guitar is an easy instrument anyway, save for genres like solo jazz and flamenco. The guitar, by nature, is meant to be versatile, something that does all things well, but is a master at nothing. You can play rhythm, lead, chords, even percussion on a guitar but it really doesn't compare to drums as a percussion instrument, bass as a rhythm instrument, wind instruments as a melody instrument and the piano as a chordal instrument. Metal music is just a genre that takes the more rhythm-oriented aspects of the guitar and pushes them further while ignoring the chordal ones. Then we have other genres like jazz that really focus on the chords, but lack the percussive, rhythmic nature of metal guitar playing. Different strokes for different genres.

So is metal guitar playing too easy and are metal guitarists one-sided musicians? In a lot of cases, yes. Does this make the genre less enjoyable to listen to and perform? No. So does it matter? Not really.
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#4
Metal drummers are indeed excellent. No doubt about that. Also, being a good drummer in metal will transfer over to other genres. Being a good metal guitarist like Dave Mustaine or Kerry King cannot transfer to clean (i.e. non-distorted) playing at all, but being a good clean player (especially jazz, classical and flamenco) will transfer over to metal pretty well (assuming you have learnt to play with both a pick and your fingers).

As far as bass guitar, I don't consider it easy at all, given the fingerpicking style and especially slap bass.

;

People like Tom Araya and Dave Ellefson are fairly straight-forward bassists that follow the guitar lines mostly. A creative bassist I know in metal is Sam Rivers of Limp Bizkit. He has these unusual bass lines that go along with the rap based performances of the band. Les Claypool of Primus is of course a legend.

Towards the end of my post, I mentioned that what I wrote had absolutely nothing to do with the enjoyability factor of metal at all, and that it is indeed enjoyable and may not require rhythm guitar complexity to achieve that end.

Also, I'm not trying to dismiss overall musical culture and the instruments which do not use chords. I have zero experience with anything other than the guitar and a little bit of piano (way back when I was a kid).

I have also held the notion that what a lot of metal fans like is the "f*** yeah!" attitude that comes with the heavy crunching riffs and lyrics, and not the underlying rhythmic difficulty of the music itself. But I find it odd that so many people, especially on places like YouTube, knock down guitarists like John Mayer who compose things which are harder than anything from The Big 4 (which are worshipped).

What I wrote wasn't about musicianship (in the sense of songwriting), nor about anything else other than guitar at all (which is why I'm on ultimate guitar forums and not ultimate trumpet forums). It's about overall complexity and diversity of rhythm guitar in metal.

There are so so many metal elitists that tout their form of music as masterful whilst knocking down other genres. In fact, being a metal listener myself, I notice this a lot in the metal world. Nickelback, Creed etc., which are all bands which are good with their instruments keep getting knocked down and insulted but classic heavy metal, which is no harder in terms of rhythm guitar, is given so much praise.

There are whole YouTube channels on metal elitism. Elitism must be deserved, but how can metal music fans be elitist when their musical form is not elite in the guitar world? This is one of the things I did not understand because playing metal taught me absolutely nothing about overall guitar playing except playing metal itself. Had I started with clean styles, I would have actually learnt guitar properly and transferred those skills over to metal easily.

Being a good guitarist implies knowledge of both chords  and playing single note lines.  Metal uses only the latter mostly. As I said, it's like playing the same intervals over and over again on a piano and not playing freely. The average metal player that has played only single note lines and diads will not be able to figure out Opeth's Damnation album by ear. The playing of classical, jazz and clean players with their chords, finger picking, arpeggios etc. is more similar to piano playing than metal is.

Like this:
Last edited by doctorboom at Jul 7, 2017,
#5
Now, think of it from my point of view (back then), as a new guitar player, who picks up things from videos, tabs, and listening by ear and learns all these metal tunes. But, if someone asked me to play the Happy Birthday song (in which you would use the chords G, D and C), I could not. Sounds silly? It isn’t.

To someone who has only played riffs, powerchords and diads; a chord, or which chord to use in which circumstance is an alien concept.

You shouldn't blame that on metal. You should blame that on yourself for not learning basic chords first. Sure, metal doesn't use a lot of full chords, but so what? That's how most metal riffs are and that's just part of the style. If you want to learn to play chords, you should play some music that uses chords.

Musically, thrash metal bands like The Big 4 are just a faster Green Day. I don’t think people would worship Billy Joel Armstrong as a guitar god. Then why do they do Mustaine when he is a pretty mediocre player (albeit a great songwriter)? Metallica is actually the most diverse band in The Big 4 and Hetfield the most diverse rhythm guitarist. So, why do people say Mustaine is more technical than Hetfield?

Some Megadeth's rhythm parts are pretty technical, I would argue more technical than Metallica's. And you need to remember that Mustaine also plays solos. So yes, I would say Mustaine is more technical, but that doesn't mean he's a better rhythm guitarist. Then again none of this matters. Who really cares who the most "technical" player is? If the music you play sounds good, it sounds good.

Many of these guys are not guitar players at all. They are metal players. That’s it. It’s like being an artist that can only paint with black and gunmetal grey. Such an artist is no artist at all.

Most guitarists mostly focus on one genre. That doesn't make them inferior as artists. Why do you expect that metal guitarists can only play metal? Just because power chords are the only thing you can play doesn't mean that applies to every metal guitarist. Some artist may focus on painting with black and gunmetal grey and build a career on that. That doesn't mean that's the only thing they can do. That just means that's their style. And there's nothing wrong with that.

I soon realised that most popular metal; The Big 4, Lamb of God, even a band like Chuck Schuldiner’s Death (and hell, any time you put on heavy distortion on a guitar), is rhythmically an extremely limited form of guitar playing. It doesn’t use the whole rhythmic potential of the guitar at all.

What do you mean by "rhythmic potential"?

And subsequently I realised, I never learnt to play guitar. I just learnt to play metal “rhythm” which sounds silly on an acoustic. What’s the point of being able to play Holy Wars when you cannot play a Backstreet Boys song or a Beatles song on an acoustic?

I don't know. But it's your fault that you didn't learn to play chords, not metal's fault for not using those chords. They are different styles and you only learn to play different styles by playing different styles. Now, if you are a good metal guitarist, learning to play a couple of new chords shouldn't be a problem. I learned to play barre chords because I played a lot of power chords. Metal riffs helped with my chord playing, even though the riffs themselves didn't have many full chords in them.

One could also say "what's the point of being able to play Beatles songs on acoustic when you cannot play [insert anything that's not chord strumming]." If you only practice one thing, you can only do one thing. If you only play Beatles songs, you will not learn to play metal. If you only play metal, you will not learn to play Beatles songs. And I think that should be pretty obvious. If you want to learn chord strumming, you should learn songs that have chord strumming in them. But if you want to learn palm muted power chords and pinch harmonics, you should learn songs that have palm muted power chords and pinch harmonics in them. So if you wanted to learn chord strumming, why were you only focusing on metal? It's not metal's fault that it didn't teach you to play chords. It's your fault that you didn't learn to play chords.

Most metal rhythm is played rather fast. I would liken it to lifting weights. It takes practice to lift weights, but one would not classify it as a complex art form. Same with metal rhythm. Metal rhythm consists of power chords and their variants. That is, diads or “two note ‘chords’”. Playing diads is like hitting the same interval over and over again on a piano and not playing it freely.

OK, but that achieves the sound that's appropriate for the music. Metal is usually supposed to sound aggressive and brutal. And that's just the way you achieve that sound. Different genres have different purposes.

Dave Mustaine is a songwriter I have always liked. But every time I watched his acoustic performances...I realised...the man does not know how to play chords at all! I have never seen him play as much as a C major chord or a barre chord. He plays acoustic the same way he plays electric; with power chords and diads.

Or maybe he just doesn't know how to play the acoustic guitar? Acoustic and electric are different instruments and you should not play them the same way. Now, I don't think Mustaine is a god and I'm really not even his fan, but just because he's not good at playing the acoustic guitar doesn't take anything away from him. He's not known for his acoustic guitar skills for a reason - that's just not his style. He does his own thing, that's thrash metal, well. And yes, Mustaine is definitely not the most technical player out there. I think he's a songwriter first and foremost. Without him there would be no Megadeth. He's a bit like Lars Ulrich - definitely not the most technical drummer, but there's no denying the fact that Lars has contributed a lot to Metallica's music, and he's one of the reasons for Metallica's success.

Personally, if these chords were played as individual notes, I’d figure them out easily. But, if they were played in chord form in a song, I would not be able to make it out, unless I was used to these chords, and these are not standard chords at all (though the first two are standard jazz chords). It's harder to figure out complex chords like this than the simple intervals used in metal.

Probably, but so what? Just because it's easy to figure out doesn't mean it's somehow inferior. Also, if you were a jazz guitarist, figuring out complex jazz chords would be easy. It has everything to do with what you are used to. The thing with metal is that a lot of the time the notes used in a riff aren't in a diatonic scale, and there are a lot of dissonances. And if you are not familiar with that sound (and are more familiar with the basic major and minor key sounds), those can be more difficult to figure out than the chords in a Beatles song or whatever. I'm pretty sure somebody that has only ever played classical would find it difficult at first to figure out metal rhythm parts because they don't follow similar practices as most classical music. My point is, it has everything to do with what your ears are used to. Different genres are a bit like different languages (and some are more different than others). Metal definitely has its own "tonal language" that's not used in pop music for example (well, some metal is really close to pop). Notes are just used differently in extreme metal, and if you are not familiar with that sound, that's something you have to learn. And this applies to all styles.

Also, it is interesting, that metal “rhythm” is actually just lead. Lead guitar uses running through single notes, and playing diads, just like metal riffs. The only time there is proper rhythm guitar in metal is when metal bands do acoustic songs (like Nothing Else Matters), or they have clean interludes in metal songs (like Master of Puppets).

How is "not playing chords" the same thing as "playing lead"? Lead and rhythm are the roles of the part in question. It has nothing to do with playing single notes or playing chords. You can play a lead with chords and you can play rhythm with single notes. By your definition bassists are playing "lead" all the time.

Compare that to well rounded guitarists like Mayer or Knopfler or Classical and Jazz guitarists who play complex chord progressions, arpegiatted chords, finger pick and basically play the guitar like a piano.

Sure, but that's just a different playing style. You wouldn't see these guys playing thrash metal riffs at extreme speeds. That's because they haven't practiced that and they have had no reason to. If you don't want to play metal, don't play metal. If you don't want to play pop, don't play pop. I think it's as simple as that. Metal requires different skills than pop, classical, jazz, whatever.

Generally when I point this out to metal heads, they say “Oh, but metal is such a diverse genre, you can’t put it into one block”. I’ve even seen comments like “You’re a moron, you don’t listen to metal”. Well, the counter argument is, most popular metal is that way. Metallica (most), Megadeth, Slayer, Lamb of God, All That Remains (most), Parkway Drive, Death, Hatebreed etc. Bands which are not like that are the exception rather than the rule.

You get comments like that because the "points" that you make are pretty stupid. Why are you pointing this out to metal heads? What's the point? Why do you want to convince them that the music you listen to is better than theirs? (Also, what does having complex guitar parts have to do with good music?)

Also, somehow, there is a subset of people that call non-heavy bands “gay” and “talentless”. I don’t understand. If you put on distortion, palm mute and play powerchords with macho lyrics like “Born to bleed, fighting to succeed”, it makes your music somehow rhythmically rich? Take off all that distortion, and you have an extremely simplistic guitar form (albeit, which sounds good).

Well, those people are idiots, but honestly, you are not much better than them.

Before you tell me that heavy distortion does not lend itself very well to complex chords, I already know that. But that in itself, limits your ability to learn the guitar if that's the only kind of music you are playing. If you play just that, you will never learn to play a song like "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton,

So you are saying that if you don't learn to play "Tears in Heaven", you won't learn to play "Tears in Heaven"? Shocking. As I said, different genres require different skills. If you only play metal, you will learn to play metal, but you won't learn to play jazz. If you only play jazz, you will learn to play jazz, but you won't learn to play metal. Sure, there's some overlap, and learning to play one genre well will make learning other styles easier. But just because you can play jazz doesn't mean you automatically become a great metal rhythm guitarist. That's not how it goes.

but I'm betting, it would be easier to switch to metal rhythm if you can play "Tears in Heaven".

Maybe, maybe not. Those styles require pretty different skills. You won't learn to play metal by playing "Tears in Heaven".

I feel bewildered that people that like metal bands, especially bands from the Big 4, shit on bands like Nickelback which have similar underlying rhythm guitar from a purely musical standpoint (actually Nickelback is a bit more diverse than Slayer and Megadeth). Wes Borland is another guitarist, who is from a band that is looked down upon (Limp Bizkit), but whose compositions are very creative and not the mere powerchord fueled ravings of thrash metal. Actually, I find that rock bands like Hoobastank have more creative rhythm than popular metal bands.

Those people are idiots. But I don't see how any of this has anything to do with metal rhythm guitar. Rhythm guitar is not the only part of metal music. If you are only focusing on what the rhythm guitar is doing, you are pretty much missing the point of the music. People shit on Nickelback because it used to be "cool". It wasn't because people didn't like the rhythm guitar parts in Nickelback songs. It was because people thought Nickelback sold their souls to a record company. "Selling out" is the biggest sin in metal music. That's just how it is. Metal bands are only respected if they appear to be "genuine" about their music. (And I'm not saying Nickelback are not "genuine" or that other bands somehow try to avoid "selling out". It has more to do with the band's image than anything else. Basically, if you are open about wanting to be successful and sell records, people will shit on you. That's just how it goes.)

Also, a lot of metal heads are pretty conservative. If something changes and things aren't like they used to be, it must be crap. Metallica got shat on because they used acoustic guitars in the intro of "Fight Fire with Fire". It's the same thing with nu-metal. People hated it because it mixed metal with rap, and that's something that you are apparently not supposed to do. Basically, people hated it because it was different. It has nothing to do with rhythm guitar parts. Most people don't care about that.

It is heresy to say this, but even a Justin Bieber acoustic performance has more difficult rhythm guitar than a lot of metal:

More difficult to who? It depends on who you ask. If the guitarist is used to playing chords, the Justin Bieber guitar part is easier for them. But if you ask a metal guitarist to play that, then yes, the Justin Bieber guitar part will be more difficult. But who even cares about what's more difficult? There's no denying the fact that the musicians playing in Justin Bieber's band are great musicians. But why does that matter? For example if we talk about The Beatles, they weren't really that technical players. They just wrote great music. Whether something is easy or difficult to play has nothing to do with quality. Some great music is really easy to play and some of it is really difficult to play.

Also, nobody cares about rhythm guitar parts.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jul 7, 2017,
#6
Quote by doctorboom

 Towards the end of my post, I mentioned that what I wrote had absolutely nothing to do with the enjoyability factor of metal at all, and that it is indeed enjoyable and may not require rhythm guitar complexity to achieve that end.


 What I wrote wasn't about musicianship (in the sense of songwriting), nor about anything else other than guitar at all (which is why I'm on ultimate guitar forums and not ultimate trumpet forums). It's about overall complexity and diversity of rhythm guitar in metal.
 

But in real life these concepts don't exist without each other. Musicianship, enjoyability and technical prowess are tied to each other. So are other instruments and genres, they all exist in context with each other and viewing them separately is only good for a thought experiment with no real-life value. Is the point of your post really that "metal guitarists are not actually technically talented so they shouldn't be elitist."? Because I think that the ability to write some awesome music (such as most of Deaths discography, or stuff like Vektor, or early Slayer albums, or any other stellar metal record) is reason enough to be proud of your achievements. I'd say it's all the more reason to be impressed by good metal songs when the musicians can achieve something that cool with very simple rhythm parts (implying that, as you say, stuff like Death, Voivod, Gorguts, Atheist, Coroner etc. actually had simple rhythm parts. Actually, I'd say that a lot of their songs are technically quite demanding to play). Even bands from the big four I like (early Slayer and Metallica) have done pretty amazing things with metal guitar playing, and it's not at all undermined by the fact that the stuff is relatively simple to play. It's still great music. I think saying "your music is great but it's not complex enough for me" is the epitome of elitism and makes this whole argument kind of ironic.
Quote by doctorboom

Being a good guitarist implies knowledge of both chords  and playing single note lines.  Metal uses only the latter mostly. As I said, it's like playing the same intervals over and over again on a piano and not playing freely. The average metal player that has played only single note lines and diads will not be able to figure out Opeth's Damnation album by ear. 

Does it? A trumpet player gets away with playing just single note lines. So does a bassist. Just because your instrument has the ability to play chords doesn't mean that single note lines on that instrument would be less valuable. If your genre doesn't require deep knowledge in chords, you don't really need that knowledge, and you can still be a talented musician in your genre. What you're implying here, probably by accident, is that in order to be a "good" musician, you need knowledge in all genres and all techniques. Does this mean that a master classical pianist is also a bad musician because he/she couldn't do simple improvisation (which some classical musicians never practice)? Or on the contrary, would that mean that a talented jazz pianist would be a bad musician because he/she couldn't perform a faithful interpretation of a piano sonata? Which they might not be able to do. Jazz doesn't even require the ability to read sheet music on most instruments (even if it would still be useful) which is a huge disadvantage in classical terms. Just as the lack if improvisation would be a crippling factor in jazz music, but not that important in a classical context.
Quote by doctorboom

I have also held the notion that what a lot of metal fans like is the "f*** yeah!" attitude that comes with the heavy crunching riffs and lyrics, and not the underlying rhythmic difficulty of the music itself. But I find it odd that so many people, especially on places like YouTube, knock down guitarists like John Mayer who compose things which are harder than anything from The Big 4 (which are worshipped).

What I wrote wasn't about musicianship (in the sense of songwriting), nor about anything else other than guitar at all (which is why I'm on ultimate guitar forums and not ultimate trumpet forums). It's about overall complexity and diversity of rhythm guitar in metal.

Likewise a lot of pop, jazz and classical fans constantly look down on metal fans because "metal is just noise" and "it's not sophisticated enough", yada yada. This is an attitude you can see daily on the internet. It's just as elitistic, and just as "wrong". Metallica fans knock down John Mayer, Mayer fans knock down Metallica. Both do so without any concrete reasons, because everyone believes that their taste in music in the best.
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*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#7
"It is not metal's fault you did not learn how to play chords" -MaggaraMarine

I know. But it feels weird to see many people putting down other forms of music and parading metal around as this great art form. Well, at least we agree that that is a stupid thing to do. I'm merely adding some counterweight.

" So you are saying that if you don't learn to play "Tears in Heaven", you won't learn to play "Tears in Heaven"? Shocking "

No, I used the word like Tears in Heaven.

" Many of these guys are not guitar players at all. They are metal players. That’s it. It’s like being an artist that can only paint with  black and gunmetal grey. Such an artist is no artist at all.  "-written by me

Yes, this is one point I would go back on. I should have written "they are limited".

" nobody cares about rhythm guitar parts."

Clearly that is not true.      

" Acoustic and electric are different instruments and you should not play them the same way. "

Which was my point too.

" You get comments like that because the "points" that you make are pretty  stupid."

Actually, it wasn't me that got those comments and neither am I the first person to start a thread like this. There's already a thread on UG called "Lack of Chords in metal?" (where I read that comment): https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=594856

"  Why are you pointing this out to metal heads? What's the point?  Why do you want to convince them that the music you listen to is better  than theirs? (Also, what does having complex guitar parts have to do  with good music?)

The opposite is pointed out to non-metal heads all the time. But that's another story.

" More difficult to who? It depends on who you ask. If the guitarist is  used to playing chords, the Justin Bieber guitar part is easier for  them. But if you ask a metal guitarist to play that, then yes, the  Justin Bieber guitar part will be more difficult. But who even cares  about what's more difficult? There's no denying the fact that the  musicians playing in Justin Bieber's band are great musicians. But why  does that matter? For example if we talk about The Beatles, they weren't  really that technical players. They just wrote great music. Whether  something is easy or difficult to play has nothing to do with quality.  Some great music is really easy to play and some of it is really  difficult to play. "

More difficult for the average person who is starting fresh (the slapping, the fingerpicking, the varied chord shapes rather than moving around powerchords etc). Maybe there are people who find subtracting numbers harder than finding the inverse of a matrix, but in general, the latter is harder. Also, I have already said that this has nothing to do with the enjoyability factor or quality of metal music.

There is also a thread on reddit regarding this: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/rl3oh/guitarists_of_reddit_do_you_think_metal_is_easier/

A commenter writes: "Most metal is simply power chords, alot of fifths the easiest chord to  play on the guitar, and the sound is so processed and thick that it  covers alot of slop.  Compare that to jazz, classical, or look at the  complexity of good acoustic music, the finger-picking, chord voicings,  and clean, nothing to hide behind.  The solos in metal can be difficult  but once you get alternate picking down not a big deal especially with  the ultra low-action of the metal axes.  When I was 17 I was able to  play almost any metal tune but couldn't come close to playing jazz,  classical, or really good acoustic music. "

           
Last edited by doctorboom at Jul 7, 2017,
#8
Quote by doctorboom
Being a good metal guitarist like Dave Mustaine or Kerry King cannot transfer to clean (i.e. non-distorted) playing at all, but being a good clean player (especially jazz, classical and flamenco) will transfer over to metal pretty well (assuming you have learnt to play with both a pick and your fingers).


Have you ever heard a good "clean" player pick up a distorted guitar for the first time? It's pretty funny.

I think you just have a lot of mistaken beliefs about instruments and that they are "supposed" to be played a certain way. I also feel like you don't have the experience to know what objectively can be considered mire difficult than others. You're simply missing a significant part of the bigger picture here. It's all just misunderstandings about guitar and music on your part. Different things take different skillsets (both technical or otherwise) snd there's no one dimensional sliding scale of music difficulty.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#9
Quote by theogonia777
It's all just misunderstandings about guitar and music on your part.  

Perhaps. Glad to be corrected then!

" Likewise a lot of pop, jazz and classical fans constantly look down on  metal fans because "metal is just noise" and "it's not sophisticated  enough", yada yada. This is an attitude you can see daily on the  internet. It's just as elitistic, and just as "wrong". Metallica fans  knock down John Mayer, Mayer fans knock down Metallica. Both do so  without any concrete reasons, because everyone believes that their taste  in music in the best."- Kevahturi

I hang around too much in the metal areas of the internet because that's something I've always listened to a lot, and I see those comments by metalheads a lot. Perhaps that adds to my distaste and need to defend other forms of guitar playing and show in what respects they are actually "harder" than metal.
Last edited by doctorboom at Jul 7, 2017,
#10
“Neon” by John Mayer is a lot harder to play and compose than anything off of Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All album

When it comes to playing those songs, probably. Then again, they are pretty different styles. Fingerpicking is not by default any more difficult than playing with a pick. Actually, if you want to play like John Mayer, fingerpicking is easier for that style than playing with a pick, because it's just more natural for that style.

Metal Militia requires fast and accurate alternate picking. It's just a completely different skill. And if you have not practiced that, you won't be able to play Metal Militia. Just because somebody can play the John Mayer song doesn't mean they can play Metal Militia. Those songs require way different skills.

When it comes to composing those songs, that's debatable. There are a lot more similarities between "Metal Militia" and "Neon" from a purely compositional standpoint than you may recognize. The songs are structurally very similar. Both of them are mostly based on two different riffs that are basically a 2-4 bar loop behind the singing melody (and the length of the different sections is pretty much the same too - the riffs are repeated an even number of times). Both have three different sections in them - verse, chorus and bridge - and those sections appear in the songs in pretty much the same order. So is a song like "Metal Militia" easier to compose than a song like "Neon"? I would say there's not much difference between composing those songs. So when it comes to these two songs, it has everything to do with what style you are more familiar with - neither of them is "more complex" than the other from a compositional standpoint.

Actually, harmonically speaking one could argue that Metal Militia is more complex - it basically visits three different keys: E (intro), A (verse/chorus) and B (solo), whereas "Neon" stays in C minor all the time. Sure, "Neon" uses some m7 chords and also some dominant 11 chords, and there are only two chord functions in "Metal Militia" - the I and the IV. But most of the chords in "Neon" are basic functional harmony in the key of Cm. There are just a couple of more "spicy" sounding chords. On the other hand, the instrumental section after the solo of "Metal Militia" is really chromatic.
Quote by AlanHB
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Gear

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Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
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Yamaha FG720S-12
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#11
I know. But it feels weird to see many people putting down other forms of music and parading metal around as this great art form. Well, at least we agree that that is a stupid thing to do. I'm merely adding some counterweight.

You are doing exactly the same thing as the people that you despise are doing.

No, I used the word like Tears in Heaven.

So what? My point still stands.

Yes, this is one point I would go back on. I should have written "they are limited".

Sure, but so is any musician that mostly focuses on one genre (i.e., most musicians). As Kevätuhri pointed out, you can't expect a classical musician to play a good jazz solo, and you can't expect a jazz musician to perform a piano sonata. Classical and jazz musicians focus on different things for a reason, because different things are required to perform the music style. You can't expect musicians to be able to play every genre perfectly. That's just not possible. Somebody that can play jazz really well may not be able to play metal rhythm guitar well.

" nobody cares about rhythm guitar parts."

Clearly that is not true.
   
By that I meant that the people that shit on other bands don't shit on them because of rhythm guitar parts. The only people that really care about rhythm guitar parts are the people that play those parts. Your post basically focused solely on rhythm guitar parts and that's why I said that nobody cares about them.

" Acoustic and electric are different instruments and you should not play them the same way. "

Which was my point too.

My point was that you can't judge an electric player based on the way they play acoustic (that is not their main instrument). That's like saying an electric guitarist is bad because they can't play electric bass. And you were basically saying that about Mustaine - he's a bad guitarist because he can't play acoustic well. Well, maybe that's because he plays electric, and you can't expect somebody that plays metal on electric to play the acoustic well. They are completely different styles.

Actually, it wasn't me that got those comments and neither am I the first person to start a thread like this. There's already a thread on UG called "Lack of Chords in metal?" (where I read that comment): https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=594856

So what if other people have thought about the same things? How does that give any merit to what you said? It is true that metal is not harmonically speaking that interesting and we all know that. But that's just a part of the style. Metal doesn't focus on harmonies, just like classical usually doesn't focus on funky rhythms. There is nothing wrong with that. Not all styles need to use Ab13b9 and F#9sus4 chords.

The opposite is pointed out to non-metal heads all the time. But that's another story.

So because other people do it, that justifies your points?

More difficult for the average person who is starting fresh (the slapping, the fingerpicking, the varied chord shapes rather than moving around powerchords etc). Maybe there are people who find subtracting numbers harder than finding the inverse of a matrix, but in general, the latter is harder. Also, I have already said that this has nothing to do with the enjoyability factor or quality of metal music.

There is also a thread on reddit regarding this: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/rl3oh/guitarists_of_reddit_do_you_think_metal_is_easier/

A commenter writes: "Most metal is simply power chords, alot of fifths the easiest chord to  play on the guitar, and the sound is so processed and thick that it  covers alot of slop.  Compare that to jazz, classical, or look at the  complexity of good acoustic music, the finger-picking, chord voicings,  and clean, nothing to hide behind.  The solos in metal can be difficult  but once you get alternate picking down not a big deal especially with  the ultra low-action of the metal axes.  When I was 17 I was able to  play almost any metal tune but couldn't come close to playing jazz,  classical, or really good acoustic music. "

Just because the chord shapes are easier to play doesn't mean the riffs are easier to play. Switching between power chords fast is not easy. Playing in extreme tempos is not easy. Of course if you slow those riffs down, it's easy. But I don't see what makes playing a chord that has a fancy name difficult to play. Sure, other genres have some more variation in the chord voicings they use. But again, that just requires different skills. In metal you don't need to know many different shapes, but you need to be able to play in extreme tempos. And just because it's one shape all the time doesn't mean it can't be difficult.

I also like how you are using random comments in the internet to prove your point. A lot of people in the internet lie and exaggerate. Just because somebody says they could play "any metal song" when they were 17 doesn't mean that's true. People who write comments like that are pretty much always bullshitting and shouldn't be taken seriously. They are just bragging about their own "superiority" to feel better about themselves. They are basically putting down people who can't do those things by making those things sound really simple. That comment goes to the same category as the people who say they learned to play "Master of Puppets" when they had been playing for two months or that they are somehow intellectually superior because they listen to classical 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
#12
Quote by doctorboom
need to defend other forms of guitar playing and show in what respects they are actually "harder" than metal.


In some ways they are and in some ways they aren't. Most of my time making music has been playing extreme metal, country, and bluegrass as well as creating hip-hop and (modern) RnB beats. Each has its own difficulties and each ranges considerably in terms of difficulty. Slow two-step country and bluegrass rhythm guitar is very simple. Lead playing on the fast tunes is blazing and combines hybrid picking, very fast oblique bends, behind the nut bends, cross picking, and many different difficult techniques. The speed, precision, and more importantly stamina required for high tempo (300+ bpm) two step bluegrass guitar rhythm playing makes it one of the most difficult things to play on guitar even if it is very simple.

Metal guitar ranges from very simple sustained power chords of funeral doom and slow swing rhythm chugging to sliding eight note power chords and tremolo picking 16th notes at tempos above 200 bpm, sometimes past 250. Again, "simple" things, but they require almost inhuman precision and stamina. The fast moving power chord heavy riffs of brutal death metal is by far the most exhausting on the left hand of anything I have played.

Even producing compelling and professional sounding hip-hop beats is far more difficult than guitar players think. Most guitarists have no idea about programming synths, building up and breaking down drums, multi band compressors, using MIDI in tracks to control filters, side-chaining, etc.

And out of any of that, I would consider playing pedal steel more difficult than almost all of the above.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.