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twistedknife
Metal newbie

Joined: Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:01 pm
Posts: 92
PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:27 am 
 

I already know the pentatonic scale in various keys and all of the common chords.

I'd like to be able to learn more songs from classic artists (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Sabbath, Death) and to be able to improvise (guitar solo).

From a purely pragmatic approach, will learning scales in different keys let me achieve this? It seems like I already know all the necessary chords and that the fretboard map for most metal songs is just based on scales. Playing guitar solos seems like they are all founded on scales and being creative with them. Some artists don't even follow any theory (Slayer, and from what I read Chuck Schuldiner).

Also, what scales are most commonly used that I could learn and apply?

Thanks!

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Buried Dreamer
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:11 am
Posts: 21
Location: UK
PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:42 am 
 

I am also interested in answers for that. Pity no one could find the time.

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Scuttlegoat
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2019 4:09 pm
Posts: 8
Location: Germany
PostPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:49 pm 
 

The best advice I can give you is to learn to read sheet music tbh. If you can read sheet music, you will get a deeper understanding of harmonic context. It also makes reading up on theory yourself easy, since the best resources alway came from jazz and classical (which are tab-phobic). I would also emphasize that theory and practice in music are not opposite things, they go hand in hand. Once you have intrernalised theory you will be able to apply it even while improvising.

I understand that a lot of people don´t like the thought of sheet music though, so I will try to elaborate a bit. I will give you some commonly used scales. I will describve them as a root note and then a sequence of whole and half steps. A half step being one fret further, whole step being two.

Really important, for all kinds of music really, is the blues scale. It comes in a lot of variations, but a minor blues is mostly what you want for metal. It goes like this:

Root / whole + half / whole / half / half / whole + half / whole
You will end up on the root at the end again. It is basically a minor pentatonic scale (which you know!) but it has a note called the tritone / blue note. Play this scale and listen to the extra note. In blues, you probably would not end on it constantly and use it as a passing tone mostly, but really, anything goes. Notice how it can sound sad, but also evil. Jumping from the root right to the blue note is definetely very evil. You can hear it very well on Black Sabbaths "Black Sabbath".

A scale that is especially popular because of its evil character is phrygian. It is a mode of the basic ionian (major) scale, and I´d advise you to read up on modes some day. It´s very fun and explorative and especially Megadeth from the Friedman Era use them a lot. Also a lot of the more modern, proggy stuff if you are into that. Maybe you will be after reading up on some theory. So phrygian goes like this:

Root / half / whole / whole / whole /half / whole / whole
The star of this scale is the second note. a really nice melodic movement is ending a melodic phrase by descending down from it back to the root. It is typically used in flamenco, but rest assured, it´s everywhere in metal. Especially with some of the notes changed to make it even more evil (you can raise the last note by a half step to make it sound even more arabic.

For now I would advise you to just improvise using these two. In general, just taking two powerchords in the key and soloing over should work. try to feel where the harmony (the chords) are in the song and try to highlight the chord notes (if they were real chords and not power chords). I am being vague here, but your taste should also define what notes you choose. If you play a blues, lets say in E, you could just use the scale I gave you above with E as the Root and Improvise over Em and B chords for days. If you need help on how to construct chords, hit me up. It´s equally as important as scales, because you can never just view a scale as seperate from the chords it is played over. They need to fit. But thats a whole ´nother issue.

I hope this was easy enough to understand. I am not 100% sure how much you know and what not, but if you have any questions, go for it. I am happy to help.
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yzzo
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Mon Apr 22, 2019 4:13 pm
Posts: 15
Location: United States
PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 11:53 am 
 

Quote:
Really important, for all kinds of music really, is the blues scale. It comes in a lot of variations, but a minor blues is mostly what you want for metal.


I second that.

Also, do you know your melodic and harmonic minors? Learn them along with blues scales, pentatonic.

I would practice doing them all, in two octaves, up and back down each. Then do the arpeggios of each same way, 2 octaves up and back down.

Then look up the circle of fifths (or fourths) and do that too.

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EzraBlumenfeld
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:50 pm
Posts: 274
Location: Land of No Return
PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 9:16 pm 
 

twistedknife wrote:
Some artists don't even follow any theory (Slayer, and from what I read Chuck Schuldiner).


Slayer definitely uses no theory.

Chuck, though? All of those blazing-fast tremolo-picked runs you hear in Death and Control Denied solos are an adapted harmonic minor shape.
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This album reeled me in with it's eye-catching album cover but vomited a whole load of musical diarrhea in my face as soon as I started listening! I would not even use this album to wipe my butt.


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Element_man
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2005 2:37 am
Posts: 894
Location: Vancouver, Canada
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 12:30 pm 
 

Great question. The answer ultimately depends on your goals and how you like to learn. When it comes to music theory I tend to be a "knowledge is power" sorta guy so I love figuring out the names of scale patterns, chord shapes and all that shit.

Since the structure of the guitar lends itself more to shape-base playing than say a keyboard instrument, you don't always have to learn all your scales in every key. Simply learn what you want and slide it around as needed. However, being able to keep track of the notes of the fretboard is a valuable skill (imo) even if just for communication and memory purposes.

The thing that helped me the most was learning where all the "natural" notes are on each string. "Natural" meaning notes without a sharp or flat attached to it. I learned where all the A's, B's, C's and so on were. This took time and I would drill the notes both one string at a time and also by finding all the A's across the fretboard in all strings and shit like that. By learning all the natural notes on the fretboard, you are essentially learning how to play the notes from the A-minor scale all across the neck which is a popular scale for rock and metal guitarists. From there, all you have to do to change keys is add sharp and flat notes where needed. The book The Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrick brought me to that method and it was a huge eye-opener all around.

Seeing as how you know the various pentatonic shapes and basic chords, knowing your notes on the fretboard should give you ammunition when it comes to moving those shapes around.

Another good shape-based system is the CAGED system. If you're already familiar with basic open chord shapes, this system allows you to shift them to other areas of the neck. The fretboard of the guitar is very pattern-based and all your basic open chords repeat themselves as you go up the neck. I'd recommend surfing YouTube videos for tutorials on CAGED. I found this system most helpful after learning the natural notes on the fretboard, of course. It was easier to put names to the shapes I was learning.

Turning the open chord shapes and pentatonic scales into more colourful sounds such as major and minor (etc) is simply a matter of adding a few notes between the ones you already know.
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at the gaytes
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:07 pm
Posts: 276
Location: Bangladesh
PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2019 1:20 pm 
 

EzraBlumenfeld wrote:
twistedknife wrote:
Some artists don't even follow any theory (Slayer, and from what I read Chuck Schuldiner).


Slayer definitely uses no theory.

Chuck, though? All of those blazing-fast tremolo-picked runs you hear in Death and Control Denied solos are an adapted harmonic minor shape.


Slayer definitely used a lot of traditional pentatonic and minor soloing on Show No Mercy and Seasons In The Abyss. For the OP, I recommend checking out this book if you are interested on Slayer's musical style

https://www.amazon.com/Slayer-Riff/dp/157560079X

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EzraBlumenfeld
Metal newbie

Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:50 pm
Posts: 274
Location: Land of No Return
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 11:52 am 
 

For improvisation, harmonic minor is gonna be your best friend once you're comfortable with minor pentatonic.
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MisanthropicEvil wrote:
This album reeled me in with it's eye-catching album cover but vomited a whole load of musical diarrhea in my face as soon as I started listening! I would not even use this album to wipe my butt.


Last.fm
Listen to my band's new album!

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somefella
Veteran

Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 11:57 pm
Posts: 3131
Location: Singapore
PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2019 11:30 pm 
 

Even guitarists who don't actively learn notation and sheet music still follow basic shapes when soloing, like Slayer and Death.

There is no workaround, no shortcut. Don't ask people for a way out. You want to solo, you HAVE to know your scales and patterns and chord shapes. It's like wanting to get fit without going to the gym.
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