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Structure of a Morello Style Song (Guitar Lesson)


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Chris Liepe

Structure of a Morello Style Song

Chris Liepe breaks down the structural form of a typical song written by Tom Morello. He explains how choruses can be used as emotional highs as well as where Tom may enhance the drama of a song by using effects.

Taught by Chris Liepe in Style of Tom Morello seriesLength: 7:31Difficulty: 1.5 of 5
Lesson 6: Writing Style
This lesson focuses on the 'typical' themes, parts, or ideas that make up Morello's writing style:

Primary Song Form:

Intro - usually consists of 1/2 the chorus riff and/or a special intro-outro riff.

Verse 1 - quiet, subtle effects along with a riff (the single chord/note verse).

Chorus - the primary guitar 'hook of the song. Powerful, pentatonic, chromatic notes introduced for added angst/ugliness - singing riffs vs. rapping riffs.

Verse 2 - very similar to first verse, but usually with some added guitar line and effect; might include a larger vocal build or added parts to aid in the overall build of the song.

Chorus - added intensity.

Bridge/Solo break - possibly will include 2 hard hitting riffs. Sometimes there is a "singing bridge." In many songs, there is an instrumental bridge that features a guitar solo.

Solos - Much of the time, there is a two part writing idea with the solos. A noise/effect-driven portion, followed by a more melodic portion.

Chorus 2x - On the last chorus, the vocals usually make an extra intense step up as with the rest of the band, and a second vocal or guitar line is introduced.

Outro - Usually the same as the intro with a hard hit at the end.

Other typical Morello-isms:
While many writers focus on building riffs with chords or chord progressions, Morello leans towards single note lines focused around 1 tonal center.
It's all about the groove: Tom Morello is perfectly content having the primary riff of a song be just an octave played over and over with a hard-hitting groove.
Cleaner is better: Surprisingly, high gain isn't really Tom's thing. An overdriven amp sound is all it takes. Don't get carried away with maxing out all your pedals and your amps.

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Style of Tom Morello

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

This Series will dive into the world of Tom Morello, Demonstrating how he accomplishes his very unique sound.



Lesson 1

Style Of Tom Morello: Song Introduction

Chris Liepe introduces his "Style of Tom Morello" Series with an original song that utilizes key aspects of Tom's playing. This song serves as a preview to the rhythm and lead guitar techniques that will...

Length: 5:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Tom Morello: Writing Tools

Chris Liepe discusses one of Tom Morello's primary writing tools - the minor pentatonic scale. First, Chris demonstrates the five patterns of the pentatonic scale. Then, he shares a few ideas that will...

Length: 18:35 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Morello: 3 Note per String Soloing

Chris Liepe looks into the fundamentals of Tom Morello's lead guitar style. Tom frequently plays fluid legato licks in his solos. Many of these legato lines utilize scale patterns that contain three notes...

Length: 19:49 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Gear and Effects

A key aspect of Tom's playing is his unique use of effects. His effects setup is rather minimalistic. However, he uses effects in combination with conventional and non conventional guitar techniques to...

Length: 24:02 Difficulty: 2.5 FREE
Lesson 5

Unconventional Techniques

Chris Liepe demonstrates how Tom Morello combines scale ideas, melodic phrasing and strategic effects to create unconventional guitar sounds.

Length: 18:02 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Structure of a Morello Style Song

Chris Liepe breaks down the structural form of a typical song written by Tom Morello. He explains how choruses can be used as emotional highs as well as where Tom may enhance the drama of a song by using...

Length: 7:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

They Got It All

Chris Liepe teaches a Tom Morello inspired song entitled "They Got It All." This song utilizes all of the techniques taught in the previous lessons within this series. Here, Chris demonstrates his own...

Length: 68:45 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only

About Chris Liepe View Full Biography Chris Liepe was born on September 17th, 1981 in Portland OR. His first instrument was piano which he pursued until discovering his love for the electric guitar in high school. He became fans of such groups as Soundgarden, Collective Soul and U2 inspiring him to start singing, songwriting and helping others in their musical endeavors with teaching, co-writing and album production.

Having moved to Colorado with his family, he began gigging, recording and teaching in a number of music stores as well as out of his apartment until deciding to pursue music full time. He moved to Denver, CO to complete a Bachelors in Music Technology and was then hired on by Sweetwater Productions, a division of Sweetwater Sound and one of the largest, most successful recording studios in the Midwest.

Chris spent nearly 4 years at Sweetwater as a producer, recording engineer, studio musician and writer. During this time he had the privilege of working with many artists including Augustana, Landon Pigg, Jars of Clay, and Mercy Me. He also wrote for and played on numerous independent albums and hundreds of radio/TV commercials.

Wanting to get back to his favorite State in the world (Colorado) and feeling the urge to 'go freelance', Chris moved to Greeley, CO and opened his own recording and teaching studio. He continues to write and produce music for artists and agencies and is happy to be among the proud JamPlay.com instructors.

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