Heavy F--ing Metal. Part 4

Sweeping, arpeggios, basic chord construction, other stuff that doesn't suck.

Ultimate Guitar
Hello, and thanks for coming to this, my third article on anything, ever. I'm going to teach you how to play metal that can, and WILL get people moshing. This lesson encompasses ALL styles of extreme metal, and I know that a lot of people don't like all of them. Deathcore, Nu metal and metalcore in particular have received venom. Keep that sh*t to yourself, and respect that this lesson is for ALL styles of metal. I ask now that you do two things. 1. Respect my tastes, and the tastes of other people who read and comment on this, and 2. Have fun, and skip the parts you're simply not interested in. These lessons, to describe them as generally as possible, are a sort of a master class on everything I know relating to metal, starting from the most basic of basics to the complexities of what scales work over what chords. To address some statements ignoring the statements above. "this part of the series isn't about extreme metal, it's about Deathcore and Metalcore - use some real Extreme Metal next time." I'd like to reiterate the need to RESPECT MINE AND OTHER PEOPLE'S TASTES. Keep the opinions, at least the ones that aren't constructive, out of the comments. Moving on. These lessons make HEAVY use of guitar tablature, or tab. If you don't know how to read tab, go and google it. They probably have a lesson on that up on here, somewhere, too. If you don't know, go learn that first, then come back here. Part seven: Sweep Picking and Arpeggios Once you get some basic phrasing techniques down (bending, hammer-ons/pull-offs, etc. The lesson is assuming that these have been learned on the reader's own time), at least in my teacher's curriculum, the next step was sweep-picking, and basic arpeggios. So what is an arpeggio? An arpeggio is what it's called when you play the notes of a chord in order. This is one reason why it's important to know the barre chord shapes, because every chord you EVER LEARN IS A POTENTIAL ARPEGGIO. Now, in metal, arpeggios are executed with a technique called sweep picking to get a nice, fluid sound that can be played at high speeds. For some of the most ridiculous examples, look to Jason Becker, Rusty Cooley and his playing in Outworld, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Michael Angelo Batio, for some of the 'shred' applications. So to get started, the technique itself of sweep picking. ^-upstroke V-downstroke
  ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ v v v v v
That's it. Usually, on the top string of whatever arpeggio is being played, there is a hammer-on to a certain note of the chord (usually the octave of a previous note), and either a pull-off to the first note you played on that string, or the first downstroke being the first note on the string. The first arpeggios I think should be learned (and learn SLOWLY. Do not ever be in a rush to go Rusty Cooley speed; with practice and time, you'll get there.) are the 5-string barre chord shapes. To my way of playing, and every way of playing I've personally seen, the barre chord shapes have a hammer-on on both the A and high E strings. As with the introducing of barre chords, all examples are 'D' arpeggios. To my way of playing, I pull-off on the top string, however, many guitarists do their first downstroke on the third note that appears on the high E string. It's all a matter of preference. Experiment with both until you find which method suits you.
  Major                            Minor
  ^   ^ ^ ^ ^     v v v v v        Same as before
The method I find easiest for the major shape is to 'roll' the bar with your third finger across those middle three strings. Same with the D and G strings for the minor shape. Also, it's important to make sure that when you change notes or strings, at least when sweeping, the previous note or string is not ringing out, because if they are, the arpeggio will sound messy. These next two are actually a lot easier than the basic major and minor shapes, because the stretch from the fifth to the tenth fret is smaller, and to some preferences (mine included), there is no rolling involved.
Major 7                             Minor 7
  Sweeping still
There are some interesting things you can do with these shapes that I will cover after we get to chord construction. Dominant/Major-minor 7
  Still sweeping
A fun little exercise to play at any speed, slow or fast is the YouTube user RomainChapus' interpretation of Pachelbel's Canon, although it isn't the most 'metal' thing to play, it still sounds nice. The video itself can be found here. He has kindly put up a link to the tab in the sidebar of the page for the video. Another cool sweeping lick at a more moderate tempo is my variation on one of the lines from 'Legion of the Serpent' by The Faceless. I'm going to list two ways to play this one, because they allow for the reader to practice different shapes of the same arpeggio.
                     Play this 4x
D-10----------------------------9- -11-----------------------10-- 
A----11----------------------10--- ---12-------------------11----
G------------13-10\9-12----------- ---------14-11\10-13----------
C--------------------------------- ------------------------------
Try it this way, too.
D-10-6------------------5-9- -11-7-------------------6-10--
A------8--------------7----- ------9---------------8-------
G------------10\9----------- ------------11\10-------------
C--------------------------- ------------------------------
Now for some three string arpeggios, since we're on the subject of sweeping, for chord shapes that you may not have learned yet. Play them as chords, too! All three string examples are 'G' arpeggios. It is important to understand that in these shapes here, the root (note that names the chord) is on the second string.
Major              Minor            Diminished
  ^ ^ ^    v 
I find the three string shapes harder to play for two reasons. 1. The sweeping motion changes twice as fast. 2. When repeating the three string shapes, since there is no hammer-on or pull-off on the bottom string, you have to either cross the G string to facilitate your next upstroke on the B string, or hit the G string twice, once with a downstroke and then with the upstroke. Because of this, even more so than with the barre chord shapes, I must stress the importance of taking it slow. Do not rush these. Get the technique down first. Now, for some theory stuff. Part Eight: Diatonic Chords and Arpeggios. In a Major Key, your scale degrees have given "chord qualities." How do we determine what scale degree has what chord quality? Well, to fully understand this, one must grasp the basics of chord construction. The most fundamental of fully voiced chords are called 'triads.' This is because they are comprised of three notes. It makes sense, right? We derive our triads from the first note, the third note, and the fifth note of whatever our scale is. So, in G Major
G A B C D E F# G 
1   3   5
So our chord consists of the notes G, B and D, which is a basic 'G Major' chord. So from A Dorian (ii in G Major, because A Dorian only has one sharp, as G Major does, and A is the second degree of G Major), we derive our chord from A, C and E, which makes a minor chord. For reference, the root note of a chord, the first note you started with to build your chord, is referenced as the root. The second note you took from the scale to add to your chord is referenced as the 'third' of the chord, and the third note you took from the scale to add to the chord is referenced as the 'fifth' of the chord. Now why is it that when you take the chord from the Ionian mode, you get a major, and when you take a chord from the Dorian mode, one is major and one is minor? To create a major chord, you must have a major 3rd (Two whole steps, G to B, for example) from the root (first note) and third note of the scale, while having a minor 3rd (one and a half steps, such as B to D) from the third note to the fifth note of the scale. To make any major chord minor, you just lower the third by ONE half step. Lowering it any more would get you something completely different. So, to get a G minor chord, you would take the major chord, G B D, and flat the third, giving you G Bb D. So in a minor chord, from the root to the third you have a minor 3rd from the root to the third, and a major 3rd from the third to the fifth. So, when you take the first, third and fifth notes from the Dorian scale, you get a minor 3rd from the root to the third, and a major 3rd from the third to the fifth. Now what happens when you have a minor chord and you flat the fifth as well? This results in a minor 3rd from the root to the third, and another minor 3rd from the third to the fifth. This is a diminished chord, and in a major key, it only happens on the seventh scale degree. So in any major key, the chord qualities are as follows. M- Major m- minor o- Diminished
I ii iii IV V vi vii I
M m  m   M  M m  o   M
This means that in G Major, the arpeggios you can play are G Major A Minor B Minor C Major D Major E Minor F# Diminished Before continuing, memorize the general 3rd intervals! They are: FACEGBDFAC... etc. etc. This is your key to instantly naming all three notes of any triad, because in ANY 'F' triad, the natural notes (no accidentals) will be F, A, and C. So all you have to do is add in the accidentals to make it minor or diminished, or what-have-you. Now, as long as you have the three notes that make up your chord, you can play them in any "order" you like. What if you took your normal three-note G chord and moved the G up an octave? Then you'd have 'BDG.' It sounds vaguely different, but it's still a G Major chord. This is called 'inverting' chords, the practice of rearranging the notes of the chord to give it a different "aural effect," as my music theory teacher (separate from my guitar teacher) put it. What if, from the first inversion of G Major (BDG) you moved the B up an octave? Then you'd have 'DGB.' That would be called 'second inversion.' Now, according to my theory teacher, the only hard and fast rule for your inversions is what note is in the 'bass,' what note has the lowest pitch of the chord. When the root note is in the bass, it is in 'root position.' It is not inverted. When the third of the chord is in the bass, it is in first inversion. When the fifth of the chord is in the bass, it is in second inversion. So if you played around a bit, and played your chord, in order of pitch, G D B, you'd still be in root position. Again, it all contributes to the 'aural' effect. At this point, from just the Major scale, we have access to a huge number of different possibilites chord-wise. Not only that, but we have arpeggios of these chords with which to solo with or create melody lines based off of them. I regret to inform the reader that I can not provide the visual chart of triads that my guitar teacher presented to me. That sheet alone provides some 12 ways to play an A Major triad, and that is JUST MAJOR! This suggests that there are also 12 ways to play an A Minor Chord, an A Diminished chord... and THAT'S JUST AN A CHORD! So imagine how many options you have with all 12 notes of the musical alphabet? Three chord types with 12 different forms on the neck each is 36 options, times 12 notes in the musical alphabet, is four hundred and thirty-two chords. Four hundred and thirty two. And the amazing thing is once you recognize the twelve 'ways' to play one chord, you can play any chord of that type by simply moving the shape! I think at this point, it should be beginning to become apparent why I said that almost all music was/is derived from the Major Scale. And would you believe me if I said that we've barely scratched the surface? We still have a whole other world of sound to explore: the Minor Scale! I know I said I would cover the Minor Scale in this one, however, I think that I might blow people's brains up if I get too much farther into the theory stuff for one lesson. So the next lesson is going to expand upon the Minor Scale. I want to ask the more advanced theory people a quick question. Being as these articles are intended to be related to metal, should I bother with teaching seventh chords? I don't think that outside of arpeggios I've ever seen seventh chords used in a metal context. Comment if you think I should, because at this point, I'm not planning on it. Thanks for reading!

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Everything in this lesson is well thought out. Only complaint is that you jumped in too quick into 5 sting sweeping. Im pretty sure a beginne couldnt do 5 string sweeps when they are starting out. 8/10 good work none the less.
    Actually when I first started I found the 5 and 4 strings easiest...only because I had a hard time with my hand hand moving up and down...great lesson
    Just great,Grade A stuff right here.And about the seventh chords,I doubt you would need to for metal.Sure there are a few who use it rarely(see Friedmans transition solo in hangar 18)But in the end i think if they understand how chords are made they could just figure it out there selves.
    I agree with Reversal; you didn't touch grounds on the technique of sweep picking at all, you just showed them excercises like all other crap sweep picking lessons do. But I like the chord theory section, that was superb.