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Writing Counter Melodies (Guitar Lesson)

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JD McGibney

Writing Counter Melodies

Now that we have our main melody in hand, we can spice things up even MORE… by adding a COUNTER melody… to our regular melody. A countermelody is a second melody that is played at the same time as another melody, but it is slightly less prominent. Think of these guys as hidden accents that bridge the rhythm and main lead. Counter melodies are often times played as a bass line, but for this lesson we are going to add a third guitar to “Beauty in a Body Bag” because, well… it’s metal. And because we can.

Taught by JD McGibney in How to Write Epic Metal seriesLength: 16:31Difficulty: 2.0 of 5

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How to Write Epic Metal

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

You've got your guitar, you've got your amplifier. Now what? Now it's time to bring YOUR story to life. You need the tools and knowledge to get what's in your head to your fingers and beyond. This is How to Write Epic Metal.

How to Write Epic Metal Series IntroductionLesson 1

How to Write Epic Metal Series Introduction

Join JD McGibney as he gives us an introduction to his course: How to Write Epic Metal.

Length: 3:03 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
ChordsLesson 2


Let us start off by recapping chords. Chords, in their most basic form are a series of three notes that are played at the same time. We'll take a look at the main chord types used in metal: major, minor...

Length: 10:35 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Ionian ModeLesson 3

The Ionian Mode

In this lesson we are going to go over the major scale, also known as the Ionian Mode. In western music the major scale is the oldest mode we use and is the grandpappy of all the other modes, having roots...

Length: 8:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
PentatonicsLesson 4


Now, we are going to go over a rock and metal staple: pentatonic scales. Pentatonic scales are scales that have 5 notes, instead of seven. JD takes a look at the two types of pentatonic scales: major pentatonic...

Length: 13:45 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Picking HandLesson 5

The Picking Hand

In this lesson we are going to go over how to apply your picking hand. The goal here is to try and let your picking hand think and act separately from your fretting hand so that you can focus on what notes...

Length: 8:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Bringing Your Story to LifeLesson 6

Bringing Your Story to Life

After going over the basics a bit, let’s start talking about writing. First off, ask yourself “what is it that I want to say? What is it I want to express?” When we write a song we are attempting...

Length: 2:28 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
The Dorian ModeLesson 7

The Dorian Mode

In this next lesson, let’s explore the second mode in modern music, the Dorian Mode. This mode also has its origins in ancient Greece, followed by a revision and “interpretation” during the middle...

Length: 8:26 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Phrygian ModeLesson 8

The Phrygian Mode

In this lesson we are going to go over the third mode pattern: Phrygian. The reason it is the third mode is because, you guessed it, it starts on the third note of the major scale. This also has its...

Length: 7:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Lydian ModeLesson 9

The Lydian Mode

Now we are going to go over the fourth mode of the major scale - Lydian. Named after the ancient Greek province of Lydia, this mode (like the others) has its roots in ancient Greece, was modified by the...

Length: 6:52 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Mixolydian ModeLesson 10

The Mixolydian Mode

This lesson is going to go over the Mixolydian Mode, which is our fifth mode in modern western music. We can trace its roots to around the 7th century BC to (you guessed it) ancient Greece! It got revamped...

Length: 7:25 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Aeolian ModeLesson 11

The Aeolian Mode

Our next lesson is going to go over the Aeolian mode, more commonly known as “the natural minor scale.” It is the sixth mode in our pattern, and has been in existence since the renaissance. Being...

Length: 7:23 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Locrian ModeLesson 12

The Locrian Mode

In this lesson we are going to go over the seventh and final mode in western music: The Locrian Mode. The term “Locrian” can be found in a bunch of ancient Greek texts, but there is no evidence of...

Length: 7:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Putting the Modes TogetherLesson 13

Putting the Modes Together

Now it's time to put the modes together and see how the patterns relate to one another. This is a handy bit of knowledge to have when you start composing your first songs!

Length: 6:41 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord VoicingsLesson 14

Chord Voicings

One of the really cool things about the guitar is the fact that you can play one note in several different spots. Now, you might ask yourself “Why would I want to play the SAME note in different places?!”...

Length: 14:19 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
RhythmLesson 15


Rhythm is just as important as the notes and chords we choose in our compositions. The best way to practice your rhythm is to (I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times) practice. with. a. metronome....

Length: 8:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
DynamicsLesson 16


A really important thing to keep in mind while writing is dynamics. You want your song to flow, have feeling, and you want each part to stand out. When we think about specific emotions we realize that...

Length: 11:04 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Chord HarmoniesLesson 17

Chord Harmonies

Now that we built a riff, we can start adding to it to make our composition sound more full. One of the things we can do, especially in metal because of the standard practice of having two guitarists,...

Length: 9:45 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Writing LeadsLesson 18

Writing Leads

Leads are fun to work with because when you are writing a lead, this is LITERALLY your chance to give your guitar a voice. Think of a lead as the melody line from your favorite song that you always catch...

Length: 13:13 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Writing Counter MelodiesLesson 19

Writing Counter Melodies

Now that we have our main melody in hand, we can spice things up even MORE… by adding a COUNTER melody… to our regular melody. A countermelody is a second melody that is played at the same time as...

Length: 16:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Spicing Up Your Story: Constructing a SoloLesson 20

Spicing Up Your Story: Constructing a Solo

At last, we arrive at the flashy stuff! Let’s talk about soloing. Solos are small sections within a song that allow for a musician to show off their chops, not only with their technique, but with their...

Length: 7:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Constructing a Solo Part II (The Revenge)Lesson 21

Constructing a Solo Part II (The Revenge)

Now that we’ve set ourselves up to be in a soloing mindset, let’s break down an actual solo. For this exercise we are going to go over a section of a song that JD wrote called “Amor de mi Vida.”

Length: 10:22 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Spicing Up Your Story: Improvising a SoloLesson 22

Spicing Up Your Story: Improvising a Solo

Now that we’ve gone over how to compose a solo, let’s talk about improvising a solo. The fundamentals are the same, where you want to try and stick with a beginning, middle, and an end, but there is...

Length: 7:15 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Tremolo PickingLesson 23

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Tremolo Picking

Let’s start talking about techniques you can add to your bag of tricks in order to make your soloing a bit flashier. Let’s start off talking about tremolo picking. Remember at the beginning of this...

Length: 5:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Natural HarmonicsLesson 24

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Natural Harmonics

Natural Harmonics can be played on a guitar in order to add a nice air, and calm sensation to a composition. Harmonics are the high overtones of a note with the fundamentals being dampened/muted. Every...

Length: 4:13 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Pinch HarmonicsLesson 25

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Pinch Harmonics

Pinch harmonics are a cool trick used by many famous guitarists. You can do this trick on any note of any string on the guitar. So crank up the distortion and join JD as he shows you the technique! (The...

Length: 5:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Poor Man’s WhammyLesson 26

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Poor Man’s Whammy

For those who do NOT have whammy bars on their guitars, there is a little trick that can be done that simulates one of the effects of a whammy. The poor man’s whammy is meant to simulate certain whammy...

Length: 3:52 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Auto-Flanging Harmonic Slide TrickLesson 27

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Auto-Flanging Harmonic Slide Trick

This little trick is SUPER easy, but sounds really cool when you add it in for some spice to a solo or lead. It’s referred to as “auto flanging." In order to do this, you will need to have your gain...

Length: 3:42 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Sweep Picking in a Major PatternLesson 28

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Sweep Picking in a Major Pattern

And no we have reached a technique that a lot of people end up trying to throw into their solos: Sweep picking! In this lesson, JD shows us the basic ideas behind this cool technique, and how to use it...

Length: 11:35 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Sweep Picking in a Minor PatternLesson 29

Flashy Tricks and Showing Off: Sweep Picking in a Minor Pattern

In this lesson, JD will take a look at sweep picking again but this time over a minor pattern.

Length: 11:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
On the Wings of DragonsLesson 30

On the Wings of Dragons

So you may have noticed JD using a 7 string guitar throughout this course! Well, as a conclusion to his course, JD will finally explain the mystery behind this beast of a guitar. To demonstrate the range...

Length: 13:48 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
JD McGibney

About JD McGibney View Full Biography

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