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hard rock/metal chord progression ??


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  • hard rock/metal chord progression ??

    What are some common heavy metal chord progressions:

    keeping in mind that mostly power chords are used (I know these are not "really chords". Do songs mostly use the I and V or the I IV V as in:

    e minor: E5 A5 E5 or

    E5 A5 D5 E5

    What are the more common modes???

    I am trying to lay down some simple stuff mostly with a pedal tone and some type of power chord progression to solo over.

    Then say if you went from E5 to A5 would you solo with:

    e aeolin minor to
    a dorian

    for example

    if you wanted the song in e minor.

  • #2
    Metal types of chordprogressions, depending on what style you are talking about, differ.

    Progressive rock and metal, usually ends up being a progression in what I call the adventure chords (haha stupid name, but it gives a great feeling of direction)

    5 chords

    in Em it looks like this - E5 G5 A5 C5 D5

    the C and D are in one bar, so the first three are a bar long each and then the last two are contained inside one bar, try just playing one strum of these chords in this pattern and you will see what I mean.

    Heavy metal and that sort of large group of spinoffs is basically what you mentioned, pedal tones.

    Song is in E locrian mode? the pedal tone is always the open E on the 6th string, so if you want to look at the chord progression, treat it as an E5 chord, or a "locrian" chord if you want more colour.

    its the phrasing and the tension that make songs "heavy" you can take a blues progress, throw on some insane distortion and do some heavy metal phrasing with palm mutes and its not blues anymore.

    If you want modes to use for the songs its, Aeolean(how do you spell it?), Phygerian and locrian... those are the most used, and the solos are usually in those modes and they switch to Harmonic minor and back to one of those modes again... thats the basic pattern.

    Some metal bands like to contrast their heavy parts with melodic Lydian phrases, or something, over top of a disonant progression.

    this doesnt really answer your quesiton, but I think it will help you think it will help you.

    if you want chord progressions to solo over, steal some godsmack riffs, they arent very intricate at all, and they all stay pretty much in one key throughout a whole song. and you can solo in Locrian all day over it, or penatonics, with a wah pedal, thats what they do


    • #3
      thanks, pretty good insight.


      • #4
        no problem, Ive been looking into this sort of thing myself, trying to find out what makes something heavy and what makes it sound like it "wants to be heavy but sucks" and what ever... I got this band that wants me to be HEAVY... I listen to dream theater... see where the problem is? so I always end up throwing in these flowing melodic lines, which are cool but dont fit in the HEAVY part.

        if you want more I can share.


        • #5
          absolutely: all insights are appreciated.

          I like melodic stuff, but I like it to sound heavy.

          I struggle to give my music direction, the sense of motion, of going somewhere and then returning to the "hook"

          Thanks for you help


          • #6
            Yeah certainly, key changes are what you are looking for then

            you pick a key for your main riff, play a mellowish version of it and then switch keys for the verse and whatnot, then during a bridge or something you play the heaviest possible version of your hook in your main key which you try to draw attention to during the rest of the song, good composition is HARD to do, either you just come upon it, or you spend hours trying to make it sound "right" or you are gifted... Im not.


            • #7
              Originally posted by djmojo
              Metal types of chord progressions, depending on what style you are talking about, differ.

              5 chords

              in Em it looks like this - E5 G5 A5 C5 D5

              Note that these are the power chords based on some notes from the Em scale

              1 b3 4 5 b6

              It is a subset of the natural minor (Aeolian mode) scale (leaves out the 2 and b7)

              1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 (E5 F#5 G5 A5 B5 C5 D5)

              You could consider adding back the 2 omitted notes for some variations. Pick any of the minor modes (Aeolian, Dorian, Locrian, Phrygian, as well as the harmonic and melodic minor scales and use the power chords rooted on the notes of those scales and you are on your way. One approach to solo can then be the underlying scale you built the chords on.

              Another approach is to use the pentatonic minor

              1 3b 4 5 b7 (E5 G5 A5 B5 D5)

              If you want it to sound real dark, add the blues scale b5 (in Em this would be Bb). It's not a power chord, but Black Sabbath's name sake song "Black Sabbath" does this...key of G I think and uses a Db note after a G5 G5(ocative higher) progression.

              In virtually all western music, it is common practice to use the chords based on the underlying scale comprising the tonal centre of the song. For instance C maj

              1 -2 -3 - 4 -5 -6 -7 = C D E F G A B

              The associated diatonic harmony:

              Cmaj - Dm - Em - Fmaj - Gmaj - Am - Bdim

              Pick a song and do the analysis...e.g. Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love" - key of C . Underlying chords of the song are:

              Em, Am, Dm7, G6, C7, F7, G7

              Except for the variations using dominant 7ths and 6ths, the are all based on the underlying scale and tonal centre of C. Interestingly enough, the song starts on an Em (from the chorus) although it ends on a C7.

              How about Black Sabbath's "Paranoid". Underlying chords are

              E5, D5, G5, Em (just one little punch after the E5), C5. Tonal centre is Em

              1 -2- b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 = E - F# - G - A - B - C - D

              The associated diatonic harmony:

              Em - F#dim - Gmaj - Am - Bm - Cmaj - Dmaj

              Try strumming the full chord against the associated power chord and you'll see that it matches harmonically.

              The point being that scales aren't just about soloing but underly the structure of virtually all western music including metal.

              For a fairly exhaustive list of scales and some explanation of how they are structured and applied see:

              International Scales


              • #8
                This is one of the better threads ever, lets keep it going.


                • #9
                  Well I might as well just throw this in here, since nobody is replying to my other thread, but Im looking to improve my chordal vocabulary, it will help with finger dexterity and all that jazz... is there a place I can go to learn about chords, like a really good site all about chords?


                  • #10
                    more metal theory

                    power chords


                    melody/solo lines


                    • #11
                      ok, keeping in mind i'm still quite new to theory(learning on my own)...

                      why are most(almost all chords) in the metal examples 5 chords(E5, G5, etc.)?

                      = chiisu
                      Good deals with: lossforgain (x2), cale76


                      • #12
                        Strictly speaking, a power chord or x5 is not a chord at all having only two notes and a chord must have at least three. It is instead an interval or dyad (two notes instead of a triad's three).

                        Why does this work in metal (and other kinds of music). Since it omits the full chords 3rd (either major or minor), it's sound is nether major nor minor and is in fact ambiguous sounding. It can blend in with either a major or minor sound. In some ways this makes it more flexible.

                        The other reason is that it distorts up nicely. Adding the third to the same distortion seems to produce higher order harmonics that are not very pleasing to the ear at high gain.

                        Finally, it's pretty easy to do (not really that significant since if people didn't like the sound it wouldn't really matter).

                        I like a power chord as much as the next player but after a certain amount my ears begin to long for the 3rd (or 7, 9ths, 4ths, 6ths, sus, b5ths, etc.) to break up the harmonic tedium.

                        Man cannot live on one interval alone.



                        • #13
                          Alot of heavy stuff comes from (sorry I'm not all that edumacated)playing say a root power chord ie E5 then either playing the next power chord on either the 1st fret or the sixth fret. I know the sixt fret is the flattened fifth and I'm not sure what the relationship between the E5 and the 1st fret is. Couldnt tell you the scale either dont really need to know (Maybe a diminished) I just play what I like anyways whatever sounds heavy. For solos normally use the minor chord that is in key or the minor pentatonic in that key. Diminished scales also can fit with some heavy stuff.
                          Dont forget about the other types of "power chords" (intervals) like root minor third and root third and is it called 4th note directly below the string ur on. Also the root flatened fifth can be used but I tend to not use that too much as it is a bit discordant although it does add tension.
                          Hope my gibberish helped a bit!


                          • #14
                            I don't think most metal guys really think about constructing a chord progression like a jazz guy would. Most of the time they just build up from a riff or play what sounds cool. There isn't really a "metal theory" like there is a "jazz theory".

                            Oh and about the 3rds and distortion problem, Eric Johnson gets aournd it by playing the 3rd 1 octave higher than you would for a normal triad.


                            • #15
                              thx for the replies, i'm slowly getting it

                              = chiisu
                              Good deals with: lossforgain (x2), cale76