Death Metal Lesson

Death metal styles and guitar techniques.

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Ultimate Guitar
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This is not meant to be an overly in depth lesson but if it is appreciated and liked I will further expand upon the concepts. The structure of this lesson is in semi song form so that you can see how to connect the various peices and styles together into a flowing form. Part 1 Gtr I (E A D G B E) - 'Untitled'
 4/4
  Gtr I
  PM------------------------------------------------------------------|
  S S S S S S  S  S S S S S S S  S  S   S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|-------------------------------------|----------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|----------------------------------|
|-------------------8-8-8-8-----------|----------------------------------|
|---------9-9-10-10---------9-9-------|---------7-7-7-7---------4-4-5-5--|
|-7-7-7-7-----------------------10-10-|-5-5-5-5---------5-5-5-5----------|
|-------------------------------------|----------------------------------|
This little riff is a major component of death metal whether melodic or brutal style. Single note trem picking is utilized throughout the death metal genre. You can alter this to fit your tastes by choosing a different scale or by simply going more chromatic. You can also alter the rhythmic placement of the notes to make the riff busier and more technical sounding of slow the change of the notes to get a slower ride on each scale tone. Both can be used in the same song to fit certain moods that you want to create. Turn on your metronome for this entire song and try them both once you know all the parts
      PM|   PM|    PM  PM      PM|
    E S S E S S  S S S S  Q    E E E E E E E E
||---------------------------|------------------||
||o--------------------------|-----------------o||
||---------------------------|------------------||
||--5-----7------9---7-------|-----5-----4------||
||o-7-----9-----10---9---10--|-5-4-7-----5-----o||
||----0-0---0-0----0---0--8--|-3-2---0-0---0-0--||
The next riff in the piece can be used as a verse riff or or a hook. The melodic context makes it easy for a listener to grasp but is also very suited for vocals over it. Again you can change the scale base for this riff to try different melodic motif's. also take this as a starting point and try shifting your accent chords and your low e pedal tones to different places to change the feel. For example, try starting out with the low e pedal tone instead of the chord.
  S S S S Q     Q     Q      S S S S S S S S S S S S Q   4x
|------------------------||------------------------------||
|------------------------||o----------------------------o||
|---------------------5--||------------------------------||
|-----4-5-------------5--||------------------------------||
|-4-5-2S3-3tr6--2tr5--3--||o-4-5---4-5---4-5---4---5-2--o||
|-2S3--------------------||--2-3-0-2-3-0-2-3-0-2-0-3-0---||
The next riff shifts gears into a more brutal and thrash style to create a moment of tension in the song. you could use it as an instrumental section or a vocal section. its all about planning how you want your song to sound. perhaps here you want the instruments to breathe while the drums grind... Or you could go with some high pitched vocals in the style of old deicide. That is the point of this lesson more than anything else is to show you some of the basic death metal techniques and stylistic elements.... but to think in a songwriting format as well.
  Q  E E E E Q    Q  S S S S S S S S S S S S   Q  E E E E Q
|---------------|----------------------------|---------------|
|---------------|----------------------------|---------------|
|---------------|----------------------------|---------------|
|------------7--|------------5-5-----2-2-----|------------7--|
|-5--5-----5-5--|-3------3-3-----3-3-----3-3-|-5--5-----5-5--|
|-3--3---0-3-5--|-1--1-1---------------------|-3--3---0-3-5--|
 
 
  S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S     Q  T T T T T T E E T T T T T T E
|---------------------------------||------------------------------------|
|---------------------------------||o-----------------------------------|
|---------------------------------||--7--------------7-6-------------9--|
|---------7-7---------6-6---------||--6--------------6-5-------------8--|
|-0-0-5-5-----0-0-5-5-----7-7-----||o-5--------------5-4-------------7--|
|-----------------------------0-0-||-----0-0-0-0-0-0-----0-0-0-0-0-0----|
 
 
  Q  T T T T T T Q  E T T T T T T
|----------------------------------||
|---------------------------------o||
|-7--------------5--4--------------||
|-6--------------------------------||
|-5--------------3--2-------------o||
|----0-0-0-0-0-0------0-0-0-0-0-0--||
These next two riffs could be thought of as a chorus followed by a bridge. The guitar parts slow down a bit so that you could put the focus on your chorus message... ver similar to the band Death in its later days. The following riff that we will call the bridge riff is similar to Morbid Angel, Emperor or even Cynics less jazzy or technical moments.
  PM------------------------------------------------------------------|
  S S S S S S  S  S S S S S S S  S  S   S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
|-------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
|-------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
|-------------------8-8-8-8-----------|---------------------------------|
|---------9-9-10-10---------9-9-------|---------7-7-7-7---------4-4-5-5-|
|-7-7-7-7-----------------------10-10-|-5-5-5-5---------5-5-5-5---------|
|-------------------------------------|---------------------------------|
 
 
      PM|   PM|    PM  PM      PM|
    E S S E S S  S S S S  Q    E E E E E E E E
||---------------------------|------------------||
||o--------------------------|-----------------o||
||---------------------------|------------------||
||--5-----7------9---7-------|-----5-----4------||
||o-7-----9-----10---9---10--|-5-4-7-----5-----o||
||----0-0---0-0----0---0--8--|-3-2---0-0---0-0--||
 
 
  S S S S Q     Q     Q      S S S S S S S S S S S S Q   4x
|------------------------||------------------------------||
|------------------------||o----------------------------o||
|---------------------5--||------------------------------||
|-----4-5-------------5--||------------------------------||
|-4-5-2S3-3tr6--2tr5--3--||o-4-5---4-5---4-5---4---5-2--o||
|-2S3--------------------||--2-3-0-2-3-0-2-3-0-2-0-3-0---||
 
 
    Q  S S S S S S Q S S   Q  S S S S E E E  E
||-----------------------|----------------------||
||o----------------------|---------------------o||
||-----------------------|------------------10--||
||-----------------------|----------------8-----||
||o--------3-------6-----|-5------3-----6------o||
||--0--0-0-1-0-0-0-4-0-0-|-3--0-0-1-0-0---------||
The song repeats from the beginning then has an outro which is similar to older dm bands like Obituary. If you are new to death metal this should help you quite a bit. Whether you like the music this lesson creates or not doesnt matter. what does matter is the fact you have just been taught quite a few various rhythmic, melodic and chordal ideas that are involved within the genre. Take your time learn the examples and then jam on them until you create something of your own. By the way this song lesson was written in powertab without a guitar in around ten minutes lol enjoy --------------- Duration Legend --------------- W - whole; H - half; Q - quarter; E - 8th; S - 16th; T - 32nd; X - 64th; a - acciaccatura + - note tied to previous; . - note dotted; .. - note double dotted Uncapitalized letters represent notes that are staccato (1/2 duration) Irregular groupings are notated above the duration line Duration letters will always appear directly above the note/fret number it represents the duration for. Duration letters with no fret number below them represent rests. Multi- bar rests are notated in the form Wxn, where n is the number of bars to rest for. Low melody durations appear below the staff Tablature Legend ----------------
 h   - hammer-on
 p   - pull-off
 b   - bend
 pb  - pre-bend
 r   - bend release (if no number after the r, then release immediately)
 /\  - slide into or out of (from/to "nowhere")
 s   - legato slide
 S   - shift slide
 - natural harmonic
[n]  - artificial harmonic
n(n) - tapped harmonic
 ~   - vibrato
 tr  - trill
 T   - tap
 TP  - trem. picking
 PM  - palm muting
\n/  - tremolo bar dip; n = amount to dip
 \n  - tremolo bar down
 n/  - tremolo bar up
/n\  - tremolo bar inverted dip
 =   - hold bend; also acts as connecting device for hammers/pulls
 <> - volume swell (louder/softer)
 x   - on rhythm slash represents muted slash
 o   - on rhythm slash represents single note slash
Misc Legend -----------
 |  - bar
||  - double bar
||o - repeat start
o|| - repeat end
*|  - double bar (ending)
 :  - bar (freetime)
 $  - Segno
 &  - Coda
Tempo markers - = BPM(8/16=s8/s16), where s8 = swing 8ths, s16 = swing 16ths --- ** Generated using Power Tab Editor by Brad Larsen: The Official Power Tab Web Site

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12 comments sorted by best / new / date

    krypticguitar87
    a couple of things to point out: 1) there is an awful lot of things in your legend that don't show up in the lesson (not really a big deal but I wanted to point it out), so they pretty much just take up space, not to mention the natural harmonic doesn't have a symbol in the legend. 2) there is no tempo mentioned making it difficult to set your metronome to a final destination for all the 'student' knows the tempo could be as high as 210bpm or as low as 40bpm... 3) it's wonderful that you wrote the song in ten minutes without a guitar, that tells me that if you had used a guitar and put actual time into it you probably would have made a better lesson. I like to teach guitar and music theory and I gotta say I spend easily 4-5 hours writing a half hour lesson, mostly because I like to make sure that all my info is accurate and that any and all exercises are relevant and helpful. 4) this would be at least 50% more effective if there was some sort of audio that can be heard for each riff. that is a big thing that is typically overlooked by alot of people making lessons. It would have been very helpful if you gave us riffs from songs instead of just "...ver(y) similar to the band Death in its later days" because anyone new to death metal may not know what is new Death and what is old Death. or (better yet) added clips of you playing the riffs so the 'student' knows what they are supposed to sound like. Sorry that I had so much critisism but it seems like this lesson was rushed (it might just be that you added the whole ten minutes to write the song thing). Looking at this from the perspective of someone who is trying to learn (and is quite possibly unfimiliar with the topic), I seriously ended this feeling like I may have wasted time reading it, meaning I have not really learned anything other than: "play a riff like this and another one kind of like this and here's the name of a band that plays music and now play a riff like this and heres some note durations bye!" you seem pretty well spoken and overall there aren't a ton of spelling errors so I personally feel like you can probably write some really good lessons. also you weren't completely boring and broke up the writing well enough that it seems like you can make these lessons rather interesting. Also I hope my comments didn't come off too harsh, and they help you in terms of writing your next lesson.
    krypticguitar87
    if you expect your 'students' to know note durations perfectly before attmpting this lesson, you should put a disclaimer, just so they know not to bother trying to learn this with out a solid knowledge in note durations. I also just want to reiterate that the majority of the students I teach still benefit more from hearing what something should sound like than from just from the notation. and as much as I hate adding more critisism, I just realized that you didn't really explain how these were constructed. like what scales you chose and why, what harmonizations you chose to use, and what common intervals are used for creating riffs like these. I totally get your arguments, and I didn't think this was meant to be a bible.
    sidereal9
    I appreciate your feedback but most of your comments come from a personal preference. I also have been a guitar teacher off and on throughout the years. Yes the song was written in ten minutes without a guitar but does that make it any less valid? Plenty of composers and musicians write without touching an instrument.(Frank Zappa) The legend is a general legend that the host program creates during its conversion. Any lesson I will do will feature the same legend for the sake of being uniform. I chose not the specify a tempo merely because a beginner is not going to be able to perform it accurately at the same tempo as a more advanced player. It also leaves it open for the student to decide what groove they like most(faster or slower). The beginning student would not need audio samples had the student already done the proper beat subdivision training. The fact I decided to go with riff ideas that were similar to other bands instead of teaching you another bands riffs i think is more conducive to teaching the student to create and not copy exact another band. It also keeps me from stealing anothers creation for the purpose of creating a lesson. So to further summarize this lesson was intended as a primer not a complete bible of death metal guitar. What is learned is a few of the main concepts that are part of the genre and how those elements could be arranged as a song. If you teach guitar then you also know there is quite a bit of information packed into this song. It would take a beginner quite a bit of time to go through it,learn it and become comfortable with it. At that point the student could decide to tackle more advanced lessons while having a good foundation already in place. In closing I still believe it achieves it's goal of making a short and simple song while also showing the student various concepts to learn from. It also, in my opinion, achieves its goal of helping the beginner to think as a songwriter and not a riff generator like so many modern death metal bands seem to do. If those goals have not been achieved then for that I apologize but I make no excuses for using a format or stylistic approach. Thank you for your critique.
    daniel.kPL
    Woah, that's a piece of a lesson, and a heck of a discussion. I'll put my two cents in, though. I think that the idea of a lesson "learn-by-song" is a good idea, but in my opinion it could have been done better. It's a bit chaotic and if I would be really a begginer I wouldn't get much. Still thats a piece of good idea and some practice in writing lessons would make you a good teacher. I'd like to say again that the idea of learning anything by song is great.
    daniel.kPL
    I've forgot to rate. I'll give you 8 and I'm inviting you to come see my lessons. Constructive criticism wanted
    sidereal9
    my next lesson will take both of your suggestions into consideration. i may do midi for audio simply because i don't you my computer to record. so i would have to set up my recording unit record it then load it into my computer. which sound really easy but in actuality is kind of a pain with my tascam. but i will go more into explanations but will still use the song based format.
    krypticguitar87
    yeah to be honest I know the problem my bassist tascam was a bitch to hook up to a computer before he sold it anyway I think even midi would be enough, it makes it nice to hear it either way. I look forward to your next lesson.
    k90728
    Hearing a DM song would be better then looking at this lesson for a true beginner.
    vIsIbleNoIsE
    attention everybody! never say you did something "in around ten minutes" or "put this together in a few minutes" or "cranked it out last night" because contrary to what you might think, it won't get people on your side!
    barcode99
    i think this lesson looks good at a glance. people can add triplets or play at their own pace. this is just a play notes here on the fret and get a feel for it. the guys giving a whats the BPM and so on kind of miss the point i think.