#1
is there any specific approach to writing proggressive metal??? I love Opeth, Dream Theater, Tool, and many more progressive bands, but im not entirely sure on how to approach writing prog stuff. Any help writing, or anything in specific i should learn, would be greatly appreciated. thanks

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#2
Quote by valennic
is there any specific approach to writing proggressive metal??? I love Opeth, Dream Theater, Tool, and many more progressive bands, but im not entirely sure on how to approach writing prog stuff. Any help writing, or anything in specific i should learn, would be greatly appreciated. thanks


You need a theme for a song (like a lyrical theme, youll need much more than just one musical theme). You will also need to know alot of theory. You will also need to use theme and variation well, and be able to transition between two sections well. Alot of your riffs will be obtained using similar methods to what you ussually do.
#3
Write it. There's no real method. Do what works best for you. Sounds bull****, I know, but it's true.

For me though, writing often happens when I'm tired. I can get good stuff then, likely because when one is tired, the brain goes into an alpha state, which is more creative, as opposed to a more linear state. So creativity flows better...

Try writing tired?

I dunno.
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Originally Posted by Sirwinston89
whoa man this is turning into the Dream Theater appreciation thread!!! If only every thread kicked this much ass!


You're welcome
#4
Quote by matx33
because when one is tired, the brain goes into an alpha state, which is more creative, as opposed to a more linear state. So creativity flows better....


this is true to some degree, your brainwave patterns are actually affected by many different things. being tired is one of them. subsequently the brain has a tendency to change into this pattern later at night as well (i assume it has to do with the natural sleeping cycle, so even if you aren't tired at 2 am it still changes wave patterns because thats what its done naturally for so long)

as for writing prog, i've noticed several things in prog.

1) a theme, as listed before which evolves through the song
2) lots of songs use variants on this theme but never repeat
3) constantly changing / parts only repeat a couple times
4) key and time sig changes (generally easier said than done)
5) polyrhythms

these are just some very basic ideas for you to ponder.
#5
Instead of applying those characteristics above, do this: Something different.
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#6
Prog. Rock is what a lot of musicians (especially in Musician Talk) aspire to because it requires seriously in-depth knowledge of virtually all musical aspects. Progressive Rock has a message to get across and it takes more than two verses and three choruses. The music actually has to fit the mood of the vocals. Are you capable of key changes, solos that grip the emotion and having about ten different riffs in one song? It really is harder than it sounds.
#7
Jesus.......i guess i didn't quite realize all that i would have to do. Im still VERY basic at theory, so im guessing that is what i should really learn?

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#8
Quote by valennic
Jesus.......i guess i didn't quite realize all that i would have to do. Im still VERY basic at theory, so im guessing that is what i should really learn?

well it wouldnt do anything but help alot either way
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#9
Quote by valennic
Jesus.......i guess i didn't quite realize all that i would have to do. Im still VERY basic at theory, so im guessing that is what i should really learn?

Of course it can't hurt. I'll say it's downright necessary if you're gonna write a prog song on your own. You could do with less if you're surrounded by a band who also know what they're doing and trying to achieve. So you can take that route too.

The theme idea has been pretty standard for prog rock bands across the board. So you can start with that.

It would be an interesting project you can appeal to UG/MT for help. Have fun.
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#10
Quote by Dimebag Dave
Instead of applying those characteristics above, do this: Something different.


but then it wouldn't be prog. the things i listed were pretty much standard in almost all prog. the TS asked for info on doing prog, i gave it to him. i suggest he take the basic motif of prog and do something different, thats what makes TOOL so special, they don't sound like the prog rock of years past.
#11
Just start writing stuff down, whether it makes sense or not, in the end you'll have a cacophony of music, all you need to is link them all together. And more times than enough those "links" will sound weird, but good.
hue
#12
Quote by z4twenny
but then it wouldn't be prog. the things i listed were pretty much standard in almost all prog. the TS asked for info on doing prog, i gave it to him. i suggest he take the basic motif of prog and do something different, thats what makes TOOL so special, they don't sound like the prog rock of years past.


If you copy other prog bands you're being regressive, not progressive.
#13
Quote by Bornlivedie UK
If you copy other prog bands you're being regressive, not progressive.
I think he was saying be revolutionary like TOOL. A progressive prog band. hehe...tool is so cool.
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#14
You will also need to know alot of theory.

Mikael Akerfeld of Opeth didn't either bother learning how to read Tab because he thought it had too many numbers (although theory helps a lot).
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#15
There is not only one method to write prog metal. You need to 'attack the problem' from many directions. Eventually you'll find your way. Some suggestions to get you started:
1) make a storyboard of what you want to say. Dream Theater didn't compose Scenes from a Memory by stringing pieces of music together and then realized there was a story. They started with the story and wrote each song accordingly.
2) Master odd rhythms. Record yourself playing daily and hum to yourself odd rhythm until they become second nature.
3) Write a song starting only from the rhythm: decide the time signature an time changes before you decide the chords or riffs. Write the rhythm down before you touch the guitar. Learn Morse code :-) (Rush YYZ anyone?)
4) decide 2 scales (like: A major and C minor) and write a song that has 4 bars in one scale and 4 bars in the other. Find a way to make the transition smooth. If you're tired with Major and minor, use modes (like: G lydian and F Dorian).
5) Take an exercise you like in 4/4. Take out some notes to have a riff in 7/8, or add some to have a riff in 9/8
6) transcribe some dream theater song by ear. Understand what they do and why. Take the rhythm from one of their songs and change the chords. Take the chords from one of their songs and change the rhythm.
7)Find a good teacher, if you don't have it already. Never stop studying
#16
If you copy other prog bands you're being regressive, not progressive.


Life is copying. Artists trace the Mona Lisa, and writers read Shakespeare. Being able to copy the old style allows you to expand and make a new style. There are extremely few abiogenesis in culture.

If you can't copy a prog band and you learn how to mimic them, then thats progressive.
#17
Dream Theater's basis was Metropolis part 1, from there they all wrote the songs seperately.

Progressive rock is about progressing from one thing to another, then possibly another and another. Dream Theater is likely a perfect example. Look into 'Constant Motion' and 'Home.' Note that they have recurring themes but also have completely different sections.
#18
For progresive metal i think the main points you should consider are:
  • Expresive lyrics
  • Lots of palm muted riffs
  • Melodic, soulful and fast solos
  • Use of keyboard (Keyboard synth can sound amazing when combined with guitar)
  • Use of exotic scales (not that i know any lol)
  • And sweep picking can realy give the song a technical aspect to it
*PROFILE NOT IN USE*
Last edited by mightmuffin at Apr 2, 2008,
#19
Quote by colohue
Dream Theater's basis was Metropolis part 1, from there they all wrote the songs seperately.

Progressive rock is about progressing from one thing to another, then possibly another and another. Dream Theater is likely a perfect example. Look into 'Constant Motion' and 'Home.' Note that they have recurring themes but also have completely different sections.


How are Metropolis Pt. 1, and Pt. 2 even related?

Dream Theater named "Metropolis: The Miracle and the Sleeper" Pt. 1 as a joke, without any intention of creating a sequel. When everyone liked it so much, there was a large number of fans wanting part two. So, they made part two, which share no lyrical themes aside from one similar line: "(Victoria/Metropolis) watches and thoughtfully smiles, shes taken you to your home", from Home and Metropolis Pt. 1, and one melodic idea, which is the guitar solo in Overture 1928 being based on the melody for the line "There must be the third and last dance, this one will last for ever" from Metropolis Pt. 1. These are the only similarities which I have found. They both seem quite different, yet awesome.
#20
Just sit down and start writing. Seriously, I had all the same questions. "How do I write music? Where does it come from? How do I get inspired?"

I just sat down and started doing it, and within weeks I had written all sorts of songs, a few of them are prog metal (though short. I might just stick them together so that they are long enough to be considered "Prog" ).
#21
Listen to your heroes.

Learn to play their songs.

You'll get a feel for the arrangements that they use for the songs.

I find Prog is melodic (for the most part), Opeth are extremely good are mixing melody and dissonance, separated into different sections of the song.

The resolution of dissonance with melody is extremely important, with Prog, your doing your best to be as interesting as possible.
#22
Quote by isaac_bandits
How are Metropolis Pt. 1, and Pt. 2 even related?

Dream Theater named "Metropolis: The Miracle and the Sleeper" Pt. 1 as a joke, without any intention of creating a sequel. When everyone liked it so much, there was a large number of fans wanting part two. So, they made part two, which share no lyrical themes aside from one similar line: "(Victoria/Metropolis) watches and thoughtfully smiles, shes taken you to your home", from Home and Metropolis Pt. 1, and one melodic idea, which is the guitar solo in Overture 1928 being based on the melody for the line "There must be the third and last dance, this one will last for ever" from Metropolis Pt. 1. These are the only similarities which I have found. They both seem quite different, yet awesome.


Listen to part 1, then listen to Home. There are riffs that crop up in both and lines which are taken into other areas. Obviously there is the overture 1928 match up as well, but Home is the only that really links back. It also contains several other lines which link back:

"I was told that a new love is born; for each one that has died."

And of course, just the reference to this lake of fire.

Also, if you read the lyrics the two males are named the miracle and the sleeper and these names are referred to in the lyrics of part 2. They are also referred to as brothers.

Obviously we also have the reference to 'Dance Of Eternity.'

They are also relative in that part 1 was the forerunner and the influence. This is a strong and undeniable link just as a root note is linked to a fifth.

Also, looking at the line, "there's no more freedom; the both of you will be confined; to this mind," is suggestive of Nicholas being regressed into a past life as one of these. It also makes sense of the fact that there are pieces where Nicholas experiences life from both brothers, but the only parts containing Victoria are in The Spirit Carries On, which is a piece that she's never likely to have lived due to the line 'don't weep at my grave,' and the outro in Finally Free.

Can anybody else think of anything? Decent list so far I reckon.

Back on topic, I try to write progressive myself. Another artist to look into would be Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who is the creative mind (and a good bunch of the instruments) behind Ayreon.
#23
I guess progressive music is really... progressive music. The songs are constantly progressing, and developing. Instead the basic rock format, prog seems to go past the boundaries, and explore beyond the typical rock tune. Its almost like abstract art, where its really unique and creative. So try developing a story, and make it interesting. Write the piece as a story that has a beginning, climax and conclusion, all of which have new and different (yet similar to the piece) melodies and ideas.

Take Dream Theater's Octavarium for instance. The 24 minute masterpiece is a story, has interesting ideas and melodies, and is always progressing and changing. Have a listen, and analyze the song.
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#24
I haven't really tried analyzing any of DT's work, ill have to listen more closely from now on. I didn't quite realize that progressive music was that in depth, or that it had quite so much feeling too it. I just listened to some Ayreon by the way, very good band.

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#25
Quote by colohue
Listen to part 1, then listen to Home. There are riffs that crop up in both and lines which are taken into other areas. Obviously there is the overture 1928 match up as well, but Home is the only that really links back. It also contains several other lines which link back:

"I was told that a new love is born; for each one that has died."

And of course, just the reference to this lake of fire.

Also, if you read the lyrics the two males are named the miracle and the sleeper and these names are referred to in the lyrics of part 2. They are also referred to as brothers.

Obviously we also have the reference to 'Dance Of Eternity.'

They are also relative in that part 1 was the forerunner and the influence. This is a strong and undeniable link just as a root note is linked to a fifth.

Also, looking at the line, "there's no more freedom; the both of you will be confined; to this mind," is suggestive of Nicholas being regressed into a past life as one of these. It also makes sense of the fact that there are pieces where Nicholas experiences life from both brothers, but the only parts containing Victoria are in The Spirit Carries On, which is a piece that she's never likely to have lived due to the line 'don't weep at my grave,' and the outro in Finally Free.

Can anybody else think of anything? Decent list so far I reckon.

Back on topic, I try to write progressive myself. Another artist to look into would be Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who is the creative mind (and a good bunch of the instruments) behind Ayreon.


I guess there is a bit more to it than I had originally thought. However there is not the same degree of similarity as between some other songs like the AA suite, A mind beside itself (excluding the silent man), and In the presence of enemies.

Victoria is also referenced in "Regression", but it is more like a prequel to "The Spirit Carries On".

Ayreon is amazing. The Human Equation is probably my all-time favourite album. It just has everything: soft sections, heavy sections, great lyrics, very good vocals, large amounts of different instruments, flow, etc...
#26
Quote by isaac_bandits
I guess there is a bit more to it than I had originally thought. However there is not the same degree of similarity as between some other songs like the AA suite, A mind beside itself (excluding the silent man), and In the presence of enemies.

Victoria is also referenced in "Regression", but it is more like a prequel to "The Spirit Carries On".

Ayreon is amazing. The Human Equation is probably my all-time favourite album. It just has everything: soft sections, heavy sections, great lyrics, very good vocals, large amounts of different instruments, flow, etc...


In The Presence Of Enemies is obviously a complete work of art that comes damned high if there was ever a top 100 prog. rock pieces. The build is amazing and the final sections have such pure emotion in them it's hard to keep yourself detached so that you remember it's just a song. People actually played those instruments.

Regression is much like the intro to an english essay. It tells you what's going on and what's likely to happen.

The Human Equation album is also my favourite. Again, the fact that somebody is actually playing those instruments is astounding. Moreso that most of them are being played by one man and simply being layered over the top. My favourite character is Pride without a doubt. He opens his mouth and raw power comes out.
#27
the final sections have such pure emotion

Run before Archeo eats your soul.

do this: Something different

spot on.

Keep in mind though that it shouldn't be different just for the sake of being different. You should actually have a good idea to experiment with, to give the music a purpose. not a

Without a purpose, your prog epic is just a 12 minute, formless meandering of pretentiousness.
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#28
Thanks for all your help guys, i know what i should do now, this is going to take a while to get down anyway, if there's anything else i need to know, please tell me. thanx

My things:
Bowes SLx7
Washburn WG587
Washburn X40Pro
Washburn X50
Washburn HM24
Washburn WR150
Laguna LE200s
Arietta Acoustic
First Act
Valveking 112
VHT Deliverance

#29
Quote by Ænimus Prime
Run before Archeo eats your soul.



Likely I meant to say Induces such emotion.

*reads back*

*listens to the song*

Yeah works for me.