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Theory, Analysis, Study of Metal
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Below are the 3 most recent journal entries recorded in Study of Metal's LiveJournal:

Saturday, June 11th, 2005
1:44 pm
Another Unconventional Blues Idea
The biggest problem I have with the blues is that it's a fairly limited genre. You always know how it's supposed to sound and more often than not you can predict where most leads will end up going. It's simple, it's effective and it's pretty much a part of our collective unconscious at this point. Like the last entry I posted, I took a metal/classical technique and applied it to a blues scale for the sake of making it interesting to me. Another idea I came across was twofold.

1. The blues is usually played in very "linear" way that doesn't normally utilize huge interval jumps.
2. Don't see much tapping in the blues, now do you???

So, with the help from an idea I learned from Slonimsky, I came up with the following "Pentatonic Spiral" played in eighths or sixteenths. The basic idea is taking the pentatonic box and "spiralling" inward from the outermost notes. For added effect, slide the last note up an octave. All notes in parenthesis are tapped with the right hand while the notes at the fifth fret are hammered with the left. Enjoy!:


Current Mood: sore
Wednesday, June 1st, 2005
10:47 pm
Let's try to get some posts up here!
Bored with the traditional major and minor arpeggios, I have a blast trying to come up with unconventional arpeggio shapes. One day, I had to come up with a lead for a metalized version of Another One Bites The Dust by Queen. The whole song is pretty much the same blues-based bass line. So I asked myself: Why don't I try to come up with a blues-based arpeggio? Most blues leads are pretty straight ahead up-and-down picking. When do you ever hear sweeps? Rarely, if at all. So I dug the concept of combining 2 relatively contrasting techniques. Here's a little snippet that I'm pretty proud of. Please excuse the lameness of typing this out. It's staight 16ths throughout and the (eighth note?) rest is at the end. Note the use of the m3, 4, and tritone. Apply the apropriate slurs. Enjoy!


Current Mood: chipper
Sunday, December 19th, 2004
4:33 pm
3 on 4 Polyrhythm in Meshuggah's "I" EP
Meshuggah are affectionately considered "math metal" by a lot of their fans and for good reason. Nothing's quite as funny as seeing people try to mosh in time to their chaotic and seemingly random rhythms. In their latest release, the "I" EP, the drummer highlights the 4 on 3 polyrhythm and I would like to highlight some ways that Meshuggah manifests it and makes use of some of its interesting properties.

At (5:40) Meshuggah bursts into an apocalyptic guitar solo supported by palm-muted tremolo-picked pedal tones and by the drums playing a 4 on 3 polyrhythm.

The polyrhythm shown in Figure 1 is successfully arranged around the kit so that it comes across to the listener as very disjunct and jarring.

Figure 1 (Double kick omitted)

Note that the "four" pattern has been giving to the loud and strongly noticable snare drum while the "three" pattern is distributed to the china cymbal. Whenever I play this rhythm on drums with identical timbres, I find that the 'four' is more difficult to focus on that the 'three'. It feels like the 'three' is the anchor that the 'four' rebels against. This polyrhythm within the "I" EP makes use of this phenomenon by lending the "rebel" to the snare and assigning the "anchor" to the cymbal.

As listeners we often hear a cymbal acting as a support for the rhythm section. (If you ever are finding that it's tough to mosh to Meshuggah just listen for the cymbals and you'll be fine.) This cymbal pattern makes us feel as though the passage at (5:40) falls within a steady triple meter. In this context the snare is punching us repeatedly in the face.

Also noteworthy is the way that the slow subdued "chug-a-lug" rhythm prior to (5:40) calms the listener. Metal is often centred around changes of atmosphere and this makes the polyrhythm much more effective when it hits.

The polyrhyhm continues until (7:47) when everything drops out except for a single clean tone guitar that seems to act like a windchime. Once again the contrast is excellent.

(5:40-7:47) is quite a long time for a single drum beat. I believe that this longevitiy and the treatment of the polyrhythm to various surrounding textures within that time period is evidence that it is a key soundmark in the song. Have a listen to it and see if you agree with my observations.

Feel free to contact me if you don't have access to the EP but for $12 Canadian it's definitely worth grabbing.

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Current Mood: thoughtful
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