We kick off our Metal course with a cool rhythm track that will help you get to grips with the concept of down picking. This is simply the idea of playing everything with downstrokes, rather than down up strokes, which you are probably more used to. It means that the song sounds more aggressive, but to get there you need to absolutely smash this technique. Check out the first video to get started and click here to check out the Materials Section below to access backing tracks and tab!
We'll start by looking over the first part of section A, which will really introduce you to the idea of down picking in metal riffs. It's s simple concept, you down pick everything. Unfortunately, it's a slightly harder execution, and the key is to relax your wrist to get the consistent sound. It may sound counter-intuitive when playing something so heavy, but remember that the amp and the gain will quite often do the work for you!
Don't forget to palm mute as well...
To palm mute, you simply lean the palm of your picking hand onto the bridge of the guitar. As you move it inwards from the bridge, further and further onto the strings, you get more and more muting action. There is a sweet spot where you get a chunky sound without the tone being too muted, or too open. It's all about trial and error.
In this lesson we will continue the A section of the riff, except now we'll bring in some very cool, single note powerchord lines. This simply means that we are essentially fretting the classic powerchord shapes, except we are playing the notes individually, and aiming to get a separated sound from them (rather than blending into one chunky chord sound).
A cheeky piece of modal theory...
It's worth noting that the notes from the riff are all based around the key of E minor, except we are bringing in the b2, which gives it a Phrygian tonality. Phrygian is the 3rd mode of the major scale, and has an extra dar sound, thanks to that flattened second degree. Scale wise, it looks like this:
You may notice that this essentially the C major scale, but starting from the 3rd degree of E. A better way to think of it, however, is an E minor scale with a flattened 2nd degree. This is the note (the F rather than F#) that will really define this sound. If you want to try out the Phrygian scale, you can use the scale shape we've attached to this lesson! Have fun.
Let's now take a look at section B of the track! It is essentially more of the same, but a new section means focusing on a slightly different riff. It is important to be able to break down the tracks in this way as you learn them, so that you can really work towards learning in sections and then piecing them together. As you learn more in-depth metal tracks, this is an important habit of learning to build into your system!
To help you really master this idea of down picking, Dion has put this cool exercise together. Be sure to focus on where that accent is. In the first bar, we are putting the accent on the first note of each 4. Then, in the second bar, we are putting the accent on the second note of each 4. In bar 3 we accent the 3rd note of the 4 and then bar 4 it's the 4th note. This is the perfect exercise to get this concept mastered!
Let's now develop that same exercise by adding a powerchord version, as well as a triplet version. When you work with triplets, and in this case 8th note triplets, you are dividing the bar into 4 lots of 3... It's crazy, but once you get your head around the sound it's very easy. Try to count like this:
"one and a, two and a, three and a, four and a"
In metal, we want to make sure we use all downstrokes as well. Use this exercise to get to grips with this sound, and continuing to practice your new technique and skills when it comes to accenting notes.