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Instead of watching reaction videos, why not learn a music theory hack from the new TOOL song, and how to use it to write your own odd time signature guitar riffs and polymeters! Subtitles/CC available.
►Songwriting & Producing PDF: (click & scroll down)
In Tool’s epic ten-minute title track “Fear Inoculum”, there’s a standout section that starts at 5:49. Its foundation is a super tasty 11|8 drum groove (which we’ll hack next time, so stay tuned). The bass line in this section is also in 11|8 and locks in with the drums, creating a tight and energetic rhythm section. Above that, Adam Jones plays some classic Tool-style guitar, centred around the open A string. But the coolest thing about his riff, is that it’s not in 11|8, it alternates between 12|8 and 5|4. This makes the riff feel like it’s speeding up and slowing down, because 12|8 has a pulse of dotted 1/4 notes, while 5|4 has a faster pulse of 1/4 notes. And all this is happening in that polymeter of the guitar playing 12|8 and 5|4 against the rhythm section playing 11/8, which creates crazy syncopation!
Alright, now you’re gonna learn how to use this theory to make your own version. And for the example in this lesson, we’ll be using our version that we made earlier. So, start by setting up four bars that alternate between 12|8 and 5|4, with your grid set to 1|8 notes, and your tempo set to 150 BPM. Tool uses A Phrygian for this section, so we’ll use it too.
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STEP 1. THE 12|8
The magic of this riff is as much in the rhythm as it is in the pitches, so you’ll write the rhythm first, then add the pitches afterwards. We’ll start with the bar of 12|8, which consists of four dotted 1/4 notes. And if you’re new to dotted notes, a dotted 1/4 note equals three 1/8 notes. Now that you’ve got the rhythm for your 12|8, it’s time to assign pitches. Adam used the Phrygian mode here, cos it has a dark vibe. And if you’re new to modes, A Phrygian is: A B♭ C D E F G. So choose any of those notes, but be sure to start on the open A string, and include the ♭2.
By the way, if you wanna learn everything you need to know about modes in three simple hacks, then check out our Songwriting & Producing PDF. It also contains hacks on how to write guitar riffs, bass lines, chord progressions, melodies, counterpoint and more, and it comes with MIDI examples too! So if that sounds useful to you, then you can download it from the link above.
STEP 2. THE 5|4
Now, here’s the bit where your riff is gonna sound like it’s speeding up, cos the pulse changes to 1/4 notes in this bar. So, for your rhythm, you can play a combination of 1/4 notes and 1/8 notes. And the more 1/8 notes you play, the more energy you’ll inject. Then after you’ve written your rhythm, it’s time to assign pitches, and once again, you can play any notes from A Phrygian, but be sure to include A and B♭.
And here’s a couple bonus hacks. To get that classic Tool sound, you can create some harmonic dissonance by lengthening the low A in your 12|8 bars, so the other notes are played over the top of it. When you hit that high B♭ over that low A, it’s so Tool! But if you want even more Tool, then bend into that high B♭ from the high A.
Hack Music Theory is a pioneering method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their home studio in Vancouver, Canada. Ray has been teaching music theory for 24 years, and along the way he’s made music with Serj Tankian (System Of A Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members) and many more! Hack Music Theory teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Thumbnail photo by Mick Hutson
How to Write Music like TOOL • Fear Inoculum (Riffs)
How to install:
1. Download, extract and run .exe file,
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2. Press Install button
3. Choose destination folder
4. Press Finish
How to Use:
Open destination folder and locate file notes.txt, open it and read step by step.
Don’t forget to read instructions after installation.
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