Metalcore Music. Part 2 - Harmony

Some basic harmony theory and some metalcore genre examples.

30

Introduction To Harmony

One of the many things I love in metalcore is the guitar, the great heavy riffs. So how do yo make a heavy riff into a "great" heavy riff you ask? Harmony is the solution. For people who don't know what harmony is, it's pretty much, adding a guitar and changing it's riffs slightly. Harmony is a great way to add more depth to a song simply by writing a riff were guitar one plays something and guitar two plays the same thing but higher on the fretboard (at a certain interval).

Basic Theory

These will help you figure out what notes you should play to harmonize a certain note at a certain interval.
2nds

C D E F G A B C
D E F G A B C D

3rds

C D E F G A B C
E F G A B C D E

4ths

C D E F G A B C
F G A B C D E F

5th

C D E F G A B C 
G A B C D E F G

6th

C D E F G A B C
A B C D E F G A

7th

C D E F G A B C
B C D E F G A B

8th <--- octave

C D E F G A B C
C D E F G A B C
Ok now you may be quite confused with these. This is how we use them:
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-----3---2---0---2-||
|-1-1---1---1---1---||
Lets say you want this riff to be harmonized in 3rd's. You would find out what the notes are.
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-----C---B---A---B-||
|-F-F---F---F---F---||
Now that you know what are the notes (F C B A) You go back to the rule I wrote you and look for the interval that you want. So we said we wanted the riff in 3rd's. So:
3rds

C D E F G A B C
E F G A B C D E
Now remember this: the first line of notes is the current interval, the second line is the notes but in the interval chosen. So we said the notes were F C B A. Now look at the chart and look at the new notes in the new interval. They are A E D C. F=A, C=E, B=D, A=C. Now you need to rewrite the riff a 3rd higher (with the new notes we chose).
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-------------------||
|-----7---5---3---5-||
|-5-5---5---5---5---||
Bingo! This is the original riff but in 3rd.

Harmonized Riffs

Ok I tried my best to make it very easy for people who are music theory dummies to understand it. Now I shall tab some metalcore style examples with a bit more theory behind it. "Rose of Sharyn" Intro/Verse by KillSwitch Engage (tuning: C G C F A D)
Guitar 1 and 2
D|-------------------------------------------------||
A|-------------------------------------------------||
F|-------------------------------------------------||
C|---------------8---7-----------------------------||
G|-0-------------6---5-----------1---0-----------0-||
C|-0-0-0-0-0-0-0---0---0-0-0-0-0-1-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-||
pm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Harmonized Part.

Guitar 1 (Adam)
D|-------------------------||
A|-------------------------||
F|---3-2h3p2p0-------------||
C|-------------2h3p2p0-3/5-||
G|---------------------1/3-||
C|-0-----------------------||
pm .

Guitar 2 (Joel)
D|--------------------------||
A|--------------------------||
F|--------------------------||
C|---8-7h8p7p0--------------||
G|-------------7h8p7p0-8/10-||
C|-0-------------------8/10-||
pm .
For the first half of the song's intro both guitarist play the same riff, then they peel off into a harmonized lick, where Adam plays the exact same notes but higher on the neck. And if you did you homeworks correctly you will know he plays it an 8th higher or an octave higher (same thing). "When Darkness Falls" mosh riff (starts at 2:28) by KillSwitch Engage (tuning: C G C F A D).
Guitar 1 (Adam)
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------||
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------||
F|-----------------------------------------------10h12p10-------------||
C|-------------------------------------------------------13-12-10-12*-||
G|-0-0-0-1--1-0-0-0-4-3-1-3-1-0-1--0-0-0-1--1-0-----------------------||
C|-0-0-0-1--1-0-0-0-4-3-1-3-1-0-1--0-0-0-1--1-0-----------------------||
pm . . . .  . . . . . . . . . .

Guitar 2 (Joel)
D|---------------------------------------------------------------||
A|---------------------------------------------------------------||
F|-----------------------------------------------7h8p7-----------||
C|-----------------------------------------------------10-8-7-8*-||
G|-0-0-0-1--1-0-0-0-4-3-1-3-1-0-1--0-0-0-1--1-0------------------||
C|-0-0-0-1--1-0-0-0-4-3-1-3-1-0-1--0-0-0-1--1-0------------------||
pm . . . .  . . . . . . . . . .
This riff is another example where Killswitch Engage guitarists really use two guitars at there best. For the most part both play the same heavy breakdown-style riff except in the end where they break into a harmonized lick. Once again Adam plays higher (a 3rd) than Joel. "Bat Country" Sweep Harmony Leads (during solo, starts at 2:49) by Avenged Sevenfold (tuning: D A D G B E).
Guitar 1 (Gates)
E|-13^----------------------13----------------------12----------------------||
B|-----15----------------15----15----------------15-------12-------------12-||
G|--------14----------14----------14----------14-------13----13-13----13----||
D|-----------15-12-15----------------15-12-15----------------------14-------||
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------------||
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------------||

Guitar 2 (Vengeance)
E|-17--13----------------13-17-13----------------13-16-12-------------------||
B|--------15----------15----------15----------15----------15-12-------12-15-||
G|-----------14----14----------------14----14----------------------13-------||
D|--------------15----------------------15----------------------14----------||
A|--------------------------------------------------------------------------||
D|--------------------------------------------------------------------------||
Vengeance plays these pretty challenging arpeggio's a 3rd higher then Gates does. At first it may look hard to play, but like I said in the previous lesson. Seperate it into parts and learn them slowly. Then when you memorized all the notes, try playing it faster. And when your good enough, play it along with the song. Now if you want to learn a great metalcore genre solo with harmonies, learn the solo to "A Gunshot to the Head of Trepidation". they're is a great tab of the solo on UG. So I hope I have helped you a bit with harmonies and have given you some good riffs to practice. Please Note: all riffs were tabbed by me and not copied off anybody.

64 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    nickwentinsane
    I'm not trying to be a dick or anything, but I think your thirds in your example are off, because it should be f# not f.
    cedaguol
    dude you got the kse thing wrong... first what you wrote or typed or whatever is not a harmony... its just the same thing played in other string... no harmonies and no octaves there... the song does have a harmony but u didnt do it well there... search for a tab man
    Kooldood
    How would U harmonize a riff like this? D F G G# A C A G A C or D D D# D D D F D D# D With the sharp notes?
    Rockguitar01
    put_it_on_mytab wrote: you entirely failed to mention when you were switching between major and minor thirds, which threw me off instantly.
    Yes it's true. They are minor AND major third, the one u have to choose depend on the tonality center(key) of the song, sometime u have to play a major third, sometime it is a minor third, in fact u just show how to harmonize IN THE KEY OF C MAJOR (no flat-no sharp) if your song is write for exemple in any other key than C, u have to put some sharp and flat to respect the good harmony of the song. This lesson is really incomplete and will get some people in the wrong way, harmonization is more complexe than that! You should complete the lesson man! aside from that, this is a good article, but you really need to clarify what you're doing there.
    EMGs OWN
    Good lesson man. Helped a lot. I would also like to know how to harmonize sharps/flats.
    death_metalhead
    Does anyone out there have a good tutorial on melodic death metal? I mean...haven't really seen anything at all on internet anywhere? Might have to write one myself...just starting to understand the genre...
    put_it_on_mytab
    you entirely failed to mention when you were switching between major and minor thirds, which threw me off instantly. aside from that, this is a good article, but you really need to clarify what you're doing there.
    bpauers
    it seems like a few people are wondering how those are thirds....i have only taken one college level theory class, but you probably know that when counting intervals, you start with your first note (i.e. if you start with an A note, you would count the first note A, second note B, 3rd note C). however, it would only be this way if it was in the key of C. any other key you would have to apply the key signatures, and play the sharps and flats in the appropriate places. i hope this helps some people.
    ClosedCasket
    I liked it. It didn't show much new to me (since I'm already in a Melodeath / Metalcore band) but it was well laid out and helped me with the harmonising when i hit a block. good show!
    STABxYOU
    melodeath = melodic death metal. Cheese metal like In Flames, Dismember, At The Gates.
    aadit
    beginners lesson in fact not too good u must write abt intervals, the starter can't calculate the third of say F#
    negativcreep187
    is there any difference between harmonizing sixths and parallel sixths? i have not been able to find the answer to this and was wondering if you could help me out. an example of parallel sixths would be the riff that occurs about 4 min into "Declaration" by Trivium. if need me to post the riff for you, i can if you give some time.
    Jean_Valjean
    Kooldood wrote: How would U harmonize a riff like this? D F G G# A C A G A C D D D# D D D F D D# D With the sharp notes?
    Do you know your intervals? Count. If you want to harmonize in minor thirds count 3 half steps from your original notes eg D D D# D D D F D D# D - F F F# F F G# F F# F In major thirds count 4 half steps
    prototypep666
    ThisFireBurns22 wrote: Not to be a dick or anything, but I'm pretty sure the Rose Of Sharyn example, isn't a harmony. Those are the same notes, just an octave apart...But good lesson otherwise
    that's still harmonizing it. if you play something an octave higher then the other guitar it still gives a harmonized sound. octaves are just a different kind of harmonizing.
    forget_forever
    aramsahai wrote: Thank you for this article. I really didn't understand how this: |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----7---5-- -3---5-|| |-5-5---5---5---5---|| ... became the 3rd of this: |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----3---2 ---0---2-|| |-1-1---1---1---1---|| What makes it a 3rd? You provided diagrams and provided two tabs harmonized i 3rds but you didn't explain how they became 3rds. Could you please explain a little more? Thanks,
    Dude you gotta realize that there gonna be flats and sharps in certain scale areas. Consider this: E|-----| B|-----| G|-----| D|-----7-----| A|--5 -7-8---8--8--/10--7| E|0-----| E||-----| B|-----| G|-- ---| D|-----7-----| A|--8-10-12---12--12--/13--10| E|0--- --| This entire phrase is harmonized in thirds. So practically, from what the lesson tells you, to harmonize a note you just have to raise the pitch to which ever interval desired. Therefore using your fret board to determine the harmony by moving up semi tones up the neck. This riff you can see that the harmony is played on the same strings as the melody. The 5th fret becomes the 8th fret, the 7th becomes the 10th fret and the 8th fret becomes the 12th fret. Curious. 5 plus 3 is 8 and 7 plus 3 is 10 but 8 plus 3 is 11 not 12. This is because with harmonizing comes a pattern. For every third note harmonizing in thirds instead of moving up three semitones you move four. Why I have no idea but if not followed then harmonizing thirds wont sound good.
    Hookinontheside
    In the Rose Of Sharyn example, those notes are not an octave a part, they are the exact same with the exception of the open notes(0). A unison is a perfect harmony. However, it was probably not a good example of harmonizing b/c I'm sure we can all play the same notes somewhere else on the fretboard. Octaves(8ths) are one of the more common forms of harmonizing, along with 4ths, and 5ths. So, for all you noobs, try going with those first. the easiest way to find the 4th, 5th, or 8th of any note is by making a simple power cord. Tuning DGCFAD |----- |----- |---7- c 8th |---7- G 5th the 5th fret is F 4th |---5- C root |----- This works with all notes as long as you're tuned in something similar to standard. You can also go one string lower from the root and find the 5th 1 octave down F|--7 C 8th C|--7 G 5th A|--5 C root D|-(5)G 5th in lower octave C being the root in the C major scale (CDEFGABC), E is the 3rd b/c it is the 3rd interval or note in the scale
    Chase_e82
    Octaves are still harmonies, its just an 8th step up from your root note and consists of the same notes. Same notes, however, still a harmony.
    MadAudioMan
    What intervals should I harmonize with for a darker tone? All the 3rds/5ths sound happy.
    classicromantic
    yeah acdsone has some knowledge i have studied classical guitar as well as jazz, Venezuelan waltz such as Antonio Lauro and Hector Villa Lobos for 5 years and played for 7 i have studied music theory for 5 as well I have learned all aspects of bands like Protest the Hero, Tera Melos, The Fallof Troy, Black Dahlia, etc and this is has to be the worst explanation of that genre and specifics of music theory related to it go out and take the time everyone and learn music theory and reading, so when you read tabs, you actually know what you're playing, half the bands out there now a days have no idea what they are playing, it saddens most well players as well as writers www.musictheory.net for starters if your interested in classical music and other finger picking styles become best friends with www.classtab.org www.youtube.com
    gstyzzer
    When he talks about harmonizing the notes like that, he's doing it based on the C Major scale. If you want to harmonized based on the Minor Scales, start with the 6th tone of the Major scale as your root note (For C Major it would be A Minor, For G Major it would be E Minor) and follow the same basic principles from there. If you want it to sound really dark, you can try harmonizing in the Diminished/Lorcian scale - the 7th of the major scale. I like to use a lot of flat 5 harmonies, where a lot of the chords I play (no matter what chord is SUPPOSED to be there) I play a diminished chord. It sounds really dark and mixes well with other minor harmonies. A cool trick to try, too, is play with your guitars in different tunings. Have one person play in Standard tuning, and the other in C Standard, that way you're already harmonized in 3rds and don't have to worry about transposing to higher/lower frets.
    XXDevILdRiVErXX
    Thanx for this! ive been trying to figure it out on my own and its ended reali bad, big ups man, peace
    Kenyannah
    at least i learnt something new!!!!..but didn't explain how they came to be!!
    flakjacket
    Actually your 3rds are off, the major 3rd of D would be F#, not F, if you are using major intervals. Im sure the rest are off too because the only key in a major scale that has no sharps or flats is C.
    Jawshuwa
    ^ It can be modified for any tuning; Drop C and Drop D are generally used in metalcore music, though.
    babak869
    Babak I'm Wondeerfull because excelent site Be Fun !! www.Delphi-Magic.com
    davidstadnyk
    a good example of harmony would be the intro to "hand of blood by bullet for my valentine". it's exactly what the guy is trying to teach in this lesson, and props to the lesson too
    justine0393
    aramsahai wrote: Thank you for this article. I really didn't understand how this: |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----7---5---3--- 5-|| |-5-5---5---5---5---|| ... became the 3rd of this: |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----3---2---0-- -2-|| |-1-1---1---1---1---|| What makes it a 3rd? You provided diagrams and provided two tabs harmonized i 3rds but you didn't explain how they became 3rds. Could you please explain a little more? Thanks,
    because if you raise the not
    davidstadnyk wrote: a good example of harmony would be the intro to "hand of blood by bullet for my valentine". it's exactly what the guy is trying to teach in this lesson, and props to the lesson too
    yeahp.....BFMV ROCKS!
    Thiiknot
    other thing.. would it sound strange if I mix harmonizations in a song? For example make things like harmonize a riff in 3rd and then the next one in 8th
    Les__Paul__630*
    nice, "Rose Of Sharyn" is a killer song, harmony's are totally awesome, more people should listen to Trivium if they wanna hear some more.
    bassplayer_87
    In "Rose of Sharyn" harmonized part, there are no harmony, they are the same notes.not even an octave apart. except the open strings wich is harmonized 4th and the two last power chords wich is octave. dont want to critisize cause it's a very good lesson for beginners.
    ThisFireBurns22
    Not to be a dick or anything, but I'm pretty sure the Rose Of Sharyn example, isn't a harmony. Those are the same notes, just an octave apart...But good lesson otherwise
    jazkel24
    This is assuming that you only want to harmonize in major intervals? If you want to harmonize a major third, by all means, use a C and an E, but if you want to play music that isn't all happy sounding, you should use minor/diminished/augmented intervals as well. Good lesson, but i would suggest you post a part 3 with more theory.
    aramsahai
    Thank you for this article. I really didn't understand how this: |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----7---5---3--- 5-|| |-5-5---5---5---5---|| ... became the 3rd of this: |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----|| |-----3---2---0-- -2-|| |-1-1---1---1---1---|| What makes it a 3rd? You provided diagrams and provided two tabs harmonized i 3rds but you didn't explain how they became 3rds. Could you please explain a little more? Thanks,
    Sykonatiac
    Thanks! I've been trying to learn to harmonize, but its been mostly trial and error to find the notes I want. Your rules will help me conquer the world! MUWHAHAHAHAHA!!! lol, ahemm, anyways thanks.
    FromTheAsh
    aramsahai
    Harmony kicks ass!!!! look up some Children of Bodom they do alot and also....the 557,55,53,55 thing is played in unison w the 113,,,,, thing
    gmikey222
    yea, in rose of sharyn, that part was played in true harmony i think, not an octave higher. but thx, great stuff=)
    SLIP(SIC)KNOT
    bassplayer_87 wrote: In "Rose of Sharyn" harmonized part, there are no harmony, they are the same notes.not even an octave apart. except the open strings wich is harmonized 4th and the two last power chords wich is octave. dont want to critisize cause it's a very good lesson for beginners.
    exactly
    bassplayer_87
    does anyone of you know how to harmonize the blues scale?? you cant just take the 3rd note from the note youre playing in the scale and it becomes harmony in 3rd. please help.
    xavierxx2
    and wat are those A B C B A B(First guitar) C D E D C D(Second Guitar)....is that the tunning of the guitar??? thx!