Riffin' Like METALLICA: How To Write Metal Riffs

Tommaso Zillio

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metallica riff writing

I have known many guitarists that studied a lot of 'conventional' music theory (chord, progressions, and the like) and then told me that what they studied was completely useless to write the music they wanted.

Often, these were metal players who wanted to write songs like Metallica.

Well, that's the thing: these people are absolutely right. If you want to write riffs like Metallica or Megadeth, then all the theory of chords, chord progression, substitutions, etc. is of limited use for you.

Sure, by studying it you may find some nuggets of knowledge that may prove interesting... but the fact is that metal riffs are simply not described well in terms of chords and progressions.

(Of course, for other kinds of music, chords and chord progressions are super-useful. It depends on the music you want to play)

Luckily for us, there is more to music theory than chords and progressions. And it is perfectly possible to understand how Metallica and Megadeth approach their riff writing.

In this video we see together a different approach to writing riffs that does not rely on chords. I'm sure that if you play a little bit with it you will come up with some good music:

This should get you started :) Make sure to have fun with your new riffs.

If you want to know more about how these notes work together, and how to create a more interesting effect, why yes, there is definitely more. A first step would be to watch this video:

And a second step would be for you to check out the Master of the Modes Guitar course that will help you learn how scales and modes are used in writing actual music and how you can make them work for you and the style of music you want to play.


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