Creating Black Metal: Chords And Stuff

This article is about learning how root notes work in black metal and how you can use this in chords and melodys.

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First of all I want to say that I'm from the Netherlands, so my english is not very good, but I think you will understand what I'm saying. The meaning of this article is to help you making your own chords Oh Yeah.. Another thing is that you have also different styles of black metal and you can use these chords in different ways but it will work very good for long tremelo picked chords with riffs in the background like Wolves in the throne room. The point about black metal is that mostly it is depressive and dark and you play it in minor. A lot of people say black metal isnt build op with common scales. Actually its half true what they say. You take the minor scale and you STAY MINOR! I will explain later. _______________________________________ Chords The black metal is built up with the minor scale, but instead of playing constantly in that scale you must move up the hole scale and take a new root note. With doing this you play constantly minor but not constantly in the minor scale so it will stay depressed and dark. The funny thing is that you can take almost every note on your fretboard as a new root note. Try this. Starting in Gm and then taking new root notes like G#m, A#m and Bm.
E ------------------------------------
        B ------------------------------------
3rdG --3-----4------6------7-------------
1stD --5-----6------8------9-------------
5thA --5-----6------8------9-------------
1stE --3-----4------6------7-------------
When playing minor in normal mode and you change chords you will sometimes get major chords and this can take the dark feeling away for the time the chord is played, so always try to play minor. Of course it will stay sad when you play in normal mode, but the major chords give hope in music and when you listen good you will notice that there is no hope in black metal. ________________________________________________________________________ Black metal can sometimes fake your ear because we hear high tones better than low tones. You can make your music sound monotone by playing the root note higher than the 5th note and sometimes the 3rd note, but the 3rd note makes the feeling and harmony in a chord, so it doesn't always come in handy. Try this. This is played in Cm but the 5th note is lowered an Octave. Then try to go to Em I need to say you will really get more feeling in music and understanding in what I say when you are playing together with a bassguitarist! Don't take the 8th note and try tremelo picking!
E --------------------------------------
        B --------------------------------------
G --------------------------------------
3rd D --1----------------5------------------
1stA --3----------------7------------------
5th E --3----------------7------------------
________________________________________________________________________ Melody. (Not sure how to say it in english but I mean what the lead guitar plays) When chords are played in for example Cm you must play your melody also in Cm and when the chord shifts to Gm your melody also does. Get it? Song Structure. Black metal isnt build up by a standard verse refrain structure but is just build up by very long riffs and they are repeated for maybe 2 or 3 times and then they mostly don't come back when they end. The bassist mostley follows the rythem guitar and the thing most people will forget when lowering the 5th note they will see it as the root note. When this happens the bassist will play what he thinks the root note is but actually is the 5th note and this can screw up your harmony and dark feeling. The cord than changes in our ear and sounds different though it is still the same chord. Don't go searching the root note in your chord because you decide where the root note is. That is actually the most important thing. Now you can make a chord on every note you want and in every order you want. Mostly it will sound good because it stays dark and depressed. Just look at this
        E ---------------------------
        B --------------------------- 
        G ---------------------------
3rd D --1---------------5--------
1stA --3---------------7--------
5th E --3---------------7--------
Some people will see this 5th note as the root note in stead of the real root note as you can see. The bassist plays the 5th note as it would be a root noot and the chord will then sound like this
        E -------------------------------------
        B -------------------------------------
        G -------------------------------------
6th  D --1---------------5------------------
4shA --3---------------7------------------
1th E --3---------------7------------------
The conclusion is that the bassist keeps playing on the 5 th note without knowing and they then can not improvise because they actually play in an other scale. So remember when playing bass always play the root note or else you can screw the chord. Not always of course. __________________________________________________________________________ Also try using the chords in this way so you can make real riffs, but of course you can always experiment your own way. Really simple example Count 8 beats -
        E --------------------------------------
        B --------------------------------------
G --------------------------------------
 D --1---------------5----------------0--
A --3---------------7----------------2--
 E --3---0--0--0--0--7---0--0--0--0---2-- 
_________________________________________________
            1           1            2
The first chord you can see the C note is the root and the 5th note is lowered. Than the next note (low E note) changes to the root because the bassist will normally play it to. It really doesn't matter where you place your root note, but the only important thing is that you know where it is. I hope you guys like my article and I hope I have helped you out with some stuff. Thanks for reading my article.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Randaman
    Emenius Sleepus wrote: ReynboLightning wrote: Cool article but the info about the bass seemed a little Strange...So you're saying bassists in black metal always play root notes? Bass isn't that prominent in a lot of black metal, esp. the rawer bands where production is approached differently. A lot of bassists will follow the guitar riffs; there are however many exceptions to this.
    Ok, I have hardly listened to any black metal yet, can someone please recommend me a BM band with a good bassist?
    Ulalume
    I tell people that when you listen to black metal the bassist turns off the bass and plays with treble. Its a treble guitar.
    Burning_Angel
    Randaman wrote: Emenius Sleepus wrote: ReynboLightning wrote: Cool article but the info about the bass seemed a little Strange...So you're saying bassists in black metal always play root notes? Bass isn't that prominent in a lot of black metal, esp. the rawer bands where production is approached differently. A lot of bassists will follow the guitar riffs; there are however many exceptions to this. Ok, I have hardly listened to any black metal yet, can someone please recommend me a BM band with a good bassist?
    Farsot. Negura Bunget. Hyadningar. Artefact. Fen. and so on... Anyway. This is a very general article. But I must say, there isnt really a set way to write BM. It's more natural really. If it doesnt come naturally to someone, then they should probably either a] stop trying, or b] listen to a shitload more bm.
    SlowTrain
    Randaman wrote: Emenius Sleepus wrote: ReynboLightning wrote: Cool article but the info about the bass seemed a little Strange...So you're saying bassists in black metal always play root notes? Bass isn't that prominent in a lot of black metal, esp. the rawer bands where production is approached differently. A lot of bassists will follow the guitar riffs; there are however many exceptions to this. Ok, I have hardly listened to any black metal yet, can someone please recommend me a BM band with a good bassist?
    They are usually very difficult to hear in the mix, although in a lot of the original black metal albums everything is very difficult to hear. Immortal and Bathory are good starts for bass.
    ibanezertje
    nick_b wrote: excellent. there aren't nearly enough articles about writing good rhythm parts, and especially not for black metal. its good to see an article like this that covers these aspects. Is there a Part Two?
    Im not sure if theres coming a part 2. i will try to do my best
    nick_b
    excellent. there aren't nearly enough articles about writing good rhythm parts, and especially not for black metal. its good to see an article like this that covers these aspects. Is there a Part Two?
    Emenius Sleepus
    ReynboLightning wrote: Cool article but the info about the bass seemed a little Strange...So you're saying bassists in black metal always play root notes?
    Bass isn't that prominent in a lot of black metal, esp. the rawer bands where production is approached differently. A lot of bassists will follow the guitar riffs; there are however many exceptions to this.
    WD Punk
    pretty good i didn't notice you language if you wouldn't have said anything i would have thought you were American
    justinb904
    ReynboLightning wrote: Cool article but the info about the bass seemed a little Strange...So you're saying bassists in black metal always play root notes?
    I think he's trying to say that the bassist needs to know where the root note is in the chord the guitarist is playing so they can properly harmonize. If the guitarist is playing an inverted chord(513 instead of 135) and the bassist is trying to harmonize thinking the lowest note is the root then it'll come out sounding a little wonky.
    ibanezertje
    its because of my weird english you misunderstood the part of the bass. sorry for that. what im trying to say is that the bassist needs to know where the root is and not to play on the 5th. of course the bass can improvise in the scale.
    ReynboLightning
    Cool article but the info about the bass seemed a little Strange...So you're saying bassists in black metal always play root notes?
    Richie121691
    Listen to "From The Darkest Past" by Mayhem, it's the demo of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Varg Vikernes bass is pretty prominent in those recordings.