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Metal 101

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by (hed)-less, Jun 2, 2002.

  1. hey, im about to start jamming with my first metal band soon. ive ran a search though past topics for helpful hints but theres still a few things im weary of and i was wondering if anyone could help.

    firstly when it comes to playing with a guitarist who seems intent upon doing almost nothing but power chords do you just play the root notes or do you through in an occasional fifth or some chromatics or somethin or is there something im missing. it feels to simple to me when i try to make a bassline when im jamming with a guitarist friend who uses lots of power chords and dead notes. i feel kind of like a crap bassist when sometimes i could be just hitting the same note over and over or even just an open string (shudders). another thing im unsure about is working with two guitarists in the one band. how do you construct a bassline if both guitarists are doing totally different things...for example one is strumming some heavy stuff whilst the other is doing some high pitched finger picking...do i try and find notes both guitars are using and try and make a line out of them that way or do i pick one of the two guitar parts to follow and make a line to it and run with it. drummers as well..how do i go about working with one...ive never had experience in a complete band atmosphere before. would i play something and allow him to complement it with some beats or do i match my playing to his rythym (dunno how to spell that right, sorry).

    thanks again and later

  2. old_skool


    Aug 17, 2000
    Milwaukee, WI
    To add to your question, What are some good sounding heavy scales, metal sounding, ya know?
  3. After i ran a search on the topic i learnt this which answers your question "In metal the
    most frequently used scales are minor pentatonic, minor, harmonic minor, diminished, and
    chromatic". The problem is i dont know how to implement such things in a band situation.
  4. Listen


    May 19, 2002
    Go to activebass.com go to lessons, click on metal
  5. lazybassass


    Jan 23, 2002
    Im relatively new to theory so dont swear by what i say and hopefully someone can correct or add on to what im about to say. To touch on the power chord subject. I believe a power chord is made of a root a third and a fifth. Say the root is G you could make arpeggios using G(the root), B(the third) and D(the fifth). I dont know how much you coulduse this in a metal band but i figured you could try it or something.
  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    That's not quite right - a power chord is either root-fifth or root-fifth-octave. There are no 3rds or other notes that would define the key as major or minor.

    As for things to try, there isn't always room (esp. with two guitars!) but you could try doubling the guitar leads. Another idea is to double the rhythm guitar, but to transpose it (ie, play the same line with a different root) Some TBers will gasp in horror at this idea, but it can work; some Metal is all about sounding weird and creepy!

    I can't really say which notes to try, because it depends on what your style is and what your band sounds like. Think about the context of the song and how certain intervals will sound against the chords. Don't think about it too much - a lot of my metal bass lines were just banged out on the spot and analyzed later.

    As far as scales go, know your modes and minor scales, but bear in mind that most metal guitarists don't write riffs while thinking about what key they are in.
  7. as far as bass runs etc, listen to Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Listen to some Manowar (not one of my fav bands, but some interesting bass work.) Also Dave Ellfson from Megadeth is always a good listen.

    As for myself, I always worry about myself and the drummer, more than myself and the guitarists. Years ago I played with a drummer who was big into syncopation and we came up with some very cool rhythms that complemented the guitarists. Not always really fancy stuff or playing way outside the realm of the chords being played, but it created a different rhythm back in the mix. Cool stuff.

    You know I really love metal and still play it, but I think if you want to showboat on the bass, metal isnt the best genre. Although that may just be my own limitations creeping in. I like to keep things simple and lay down the growl. I play with me fingers!

  8. oh geez, ya know, Cliff Burton too, what was i thinking!
  9. lazybassass


    Jan 23, 2002
    thanks for correcting me there i had lost my notes on the subject and i wasnt sure. well thanks for helping help us out.
  10. : gasps in horror!! : :eek:
  11. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Even though power chords do not have a 3rd to determine if they are major or minor, that context is still present, even though it isn't implied/enforced in the chord. There's no rule that says you must purposely avoid playing a 3rd of any kind because the guitarist is playing power chords. You must see how the other chords are relativent to the root power chord.

    For example, the song "Smoke On The Water" by Deep Purple. It's played with power chords, but it has a minor sound to it. The reason is, is because the power chords together outline the tonality of the song, as opposed to the indivual notes of each chord outlining the song. Such as the progression going from G to Bb. Bb is part of the G minor scale, so if you look at things from a modal standpoint, you would base you runs/soloing/riffs ect. in G minor. There's always expections to the rules, but that's how you should try to look at things. I hope my jumbled rambling on the subject makes sense. :D

    But yes, metal isn't exactly the hardest stuff to play on bass. For most part, it's root notes and doubling guitar lines. There's some technical bass in a lot of metal bands (i.e. Dream Theater, Athiest, Cynic, anything Steve Digiogio is involed with) but for the most part, your average Thrash Metal or Death metal song is going to require a simple line, and if you start getting to techinical, you are actually probaly going to be doing the song worse than any good.

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