Metal Rhythm

This article is about how to play firm and heavy metal rhythm guitar riffs.

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This article is about how to play firm and heavy metal rhythm guitar riffs. By referring to 'metal', we immediately get associated to palm muting, kickass slow riffs with rests, fast picking and heavy-sounding chords, right? That's exactly what we'll talk about here. Besides all the stuff here, I prepared several metal drumtracks downloadable at my website. I'm sure you'll find them useful and fun to jam along. They are based on the most often used, basic drummings in metal music. I'm going to begin with only 1 note (and that would be the 'E' note of 6th string) riffs. Let's see what rhythmizations can we do with it, what palm muting options do we have, and how do we make all of that to sound badass. First, just play the sixteenth notes in whatever tempo you feel comfortable, only with downstrokes, without palm muting. You have to be ABSOLUTELY SURE that you're not out of tempo when playing this. Use metronome or drumtracks or hit the rythm with your foot. Rhythm playing has to be firm, solid, tight, strong and however you feel like calling it. And it definitely has to be in time. :) Now, add the palm muting. Make sure you also mute the strings you're note playing, because they can produce much unwanted noise. Try muting it even harder, by moving the picking arm a bit away from the guitar while pushing it's weight on the strings. You will probably hear how the sound now has a bit more bass. This is a great thing on slower riffs with chords, which we'll go through later on. Now try playing those 16ths openly, and then add the palm muting. This change must be flawless. Now I've got a cool little exercise. Try adding a rest (or rests) in your 16th note sequence. Here are some examples: When you execute those rests, use 2nd and 3rd finger of your fretting hand to damp the strings at rests. This way you don't have the bass sound on the rests, though, this is the matter of taste. Make at least 10 more, and loop them. Feel free to use any time signature you want. Try to combine your licks later on. You might come up with some really groovy riffs, or even song ideas! Now try playing all of this only with upstrokes. I suggest you go for it with tempo around 90 bpms. Next thing you could do is add the 5th and an octave to those E's, so you get power chords. You can maybe flatten the 5th, so you get the really harsh E(5-) chord. Add the open G string to that chord, so you get the Edim chord. It's sound is perfect for crankin' your amp to 11 in 5am and waking up your girlfriend, especially if you don't want to see her sleeping over at your place anymore! :) Let's play with note lenghts a bit. If you use 32ths and 8ths in the riffs, you get a plenty of new options. 32ths usually build the tension and 8ths lower it, so always tend to have a balance between the both. Let's just experiment for now. You should create at least 20 of your riffs. Right now. Take 5 of those that are best. How do you know if they're best? Very easily. They make you headbang! We'll make them more colorfull by adding more notes. Use phrygian scale for now (though, you can use variety of others), to keep that heaviness. It goes like this: I demonstrated only 2 positions of that scale. One is starting from low open E string, and other from E note on 5th string. They're the ones that are the easiest to implement. First 3 notes of this scale actually sound badassiest. Apply them in your riffs. Here are some of my ideas: Another cool thing you can do is use the phrygian scale from E note on 6th string, on 12th fret, and then combine it with open E notes. That's the scale, now let's go for some riffs! I'm sure you get the point. Anyway, that's it for now. Experiment with those ideas a lot, and absolutely positive that you're gonna end up with dozens of cool riffs. I'm going to talk about this subject on few next articles, so stay tuned! And keep your heads bangin'! ;) Official Josip Pesut site Enjoy playing Josip's 'Licks of the month'! Subscribe to newsletter to get free guitar lessons, notices about new videos and many other bonuses! Thanks For Your Support!

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    Jimbleton
    thats pretty cool dude, just a nice little refresher course on the basics of metal rhythm is pretty useful , thats brah
    isabiggles
    All the best and heaviest metal riffs all have good rhythm to them. I'm going to take the heavy riff from Wake up Dead by Megadeth as an example. Sure, the melody sounds quite nice but it would still sound nice and heavy if you just played the low E with the rhythm of it. Swtiching between rhythms to make a good flow is almost as important. Take over the wall by Testament as an example. Maybe you could do something on that for your next article (if you do one).
    darkcheef
    If you Drop the E string to D for the final exercise, it looks really similar Forty Six & 2 by Tool....
    k90728
    huevos wrote: Unispex wrote: Yeah, and just a side note - Metal isn't all about palm muting power chords in the first position and chugging the low e string. There needs to be some diversity, man. Trooly. I would say that all music in general should not have a "guide" or field manuel. Certain cliches work well in certain situations, but relying on them too much is a big no-no.
    Well i could say that my favorite metal song uses the 'cliche' stuff and it sounds awesome. then again its morbid angel.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Unispex wrote: Yeah, and just a side note - Metal isn't all about palm muting power chords in the first position and chugging the low e string. There needs to be some diversity, man.
    Agree 100%! Maybe some complex rhythms'd nice.
    _Zazazabuza
    Finally! real shit man! this is the first article that goes into detail about metal rhythms. Just what i was looking for
    nileflows
    can anyone explain me how those 16th, 32nd, 8th note sequences work ?im kinda new here .and ive come across these a lot of times.
    CrossBack7
    Good and all, but pretty much useless to anyone who doesn't know much theory. You don't really explain the theory part at all. Some good examples, but throwing out terms like Locrian and Phrygian don't mean much to some people.
    huevos
    Unispex wrote: Yeah, and just a side note - Metal isn't all about palm muting power chords in the first position and chugging the low e string. There needs to be some diversity, man.
    Trooly. I would say that all music in general should not have a "guide" or field manuel. Certain cliches work well in certain situations, but relying on them too much is a big no-no.
    Unispex
    Yeah, and just a side note - Metal isn't all about palm muting power chords in the first position and chugging the low e string. There needs to be some diversity, man.
    ingames
    Rythm is more important than melody. Especially in metal where your stressing points should be headbang-able. Anyway, cool article as always. Keep 'em coming!
    josippesut
    v2a2n2g2 wrote: FINALLY! Some article on metal that's not all about soloing, if I see another sweep and tap article I'm going to blow my brains out, nothing's more important than rythym in metal (especially if you're Meshuggah .
    haha I agree, rhythm is really important thing. The worst time to realize that is once you get to the studio.
    v2a2n2g2
    FINALLY! Some article on metal that's not all about soloing, if I see another sweep and tap article I'm going to blow my brains out, nothing's more important than rythym in metal (especially if you're Meshuggah .
    Eirien
    Are those 3/4 examples supposed to be in 12/8? It would make a lot more sense if you're talking about metal. Nice artical though, making good metal is all about the rhythm.
    sebak95k
    thank you. i waited this a long time and now you writed a very good lesson. i'm very thankful.
    corrda00
    afrigginprodigy wrote: def. a good article, but i feel that you left out us prog and expiremental metal fans. weird rythms are great, so i would like to see you expand on that, hopefuly in a future lesson. also, using chords besides 5ths/powerchords can make youre sound stand out, another point i hope you will later mention. but overall a good article.
    I agree, but still sick article. It explains the most fundamental parts of metal. Riffing.
    afrigginprodigy
    def. a good article, but i feel that you left out us prog and expiremental metal fans. weird rythms are great, so i would like to see you expand on that, hopefuly in a future lesson. also, using chords besides 5ths/powerchords can make youre sound stand out, another point i hope you will later mention. but overall a good article.
    SkepsisMetal
    Metal is all about the rhythm. You dont headbang to melody, you do it to the beat. And metal without headbanging....isnt metal
    Geldin
    Just thought I'd point out that most players downpick 8th notes, not sixteenth. Especially at faster tempos, you're gonna be alternate picking sixteenth notes.