WTF is a Melodic Rhythm? - Music Theory from Architects “Hereafter”



Learn what "melodic rhythms" are, and how you can use them to inject primal energy into your music, like Architects does in their new single “Hereafter” (from upcoming album "Holy Hell").

Hello revolutionaries, and welcome to the Hack Music Theory channel. This is our New Music Friday show, where we trawl through the new releases every week to find the hottest theory hacks for your weekend studio session! So, if that sounds useful to you, then please subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell to get notifications. Alright, it’s time to open your DAW to hack music theory.

We’ve got a super special show for you today, as we’ve partnered with the mighty GetGood Drums for an exciting giveaway of their brand new drum library: Modern & Massive! And just for the record, this is not a sponsored video (we don’t do any sponsored content on our channel), we bought our copy of Modern & Massive, but because it’s literally the best drum kit sounds we’ve ever heard, we just had to share ‘em with you! And there’s an interesting story behind why we chose this video for the giveaway. Yes indeed, Dan Searle (the amazing Architects drummer) actually recorded his drums for the new album in the same studio that the Modern & Massive drum library was recorded in. And on top of that, the genius behind GetGood Drums, Adam “Nolly” Getgood, also engineered and mixed the new Architects album. So if you love Dan’s drum sound, you need this library! And if you don’t win in our giveaway, just buy a copy like we did, it’s so worth it. You can enter our giveaway by subscribing to our channel and to the GetGood Drums channel (over at Then, drop us a comment on the above video and tell us why you should win the Modern & Massive drum library. We’ve got two copies to give away, which means our favourite two comments will both win. So, make those answers really sincere, or really funny! We’ll announce the winners in next week’s video.

Rhythm is ancient and primal, as our ancestors were almost certainly banging on things long before they were blowing into bone flutes. Now, fast forward over 40,000 years, and the colossal opening riff of the new Architects single “Hereafter” has this same primal energy to it, because it would function just as well if it was played on one pitch. This makes it a "melodic rhythm", which is a musical concept whereby a memorable rhythm is usually composed first, then pitches are assigned to the notes afterwards. Examples of "melodic rhythms" range from Beethoven’s 5th symphony to Architects new single. The difference between a "melodic rhythm" and a melody, is that a "melodic rhythm" is still recognizable when its melody is removed, or when the pitches are all changed. And that’s exactly why our example in this video still sounds like the “Hereafter” riff, even though we’ve changed all the pitches. 

Step 1 - Pulse & Backbeat
Set your grid to 4 bars of 4/4, at a tempo of 121 BPM. Now, we’re gonna start by giving your creation a heartbeat. So, hit a cymbal (we chose the china) on every 1/4 note beat. This is your beast’s pulse! Next, it’s snare time. And Architects drummer, Dan Searle, went with a super groovy halftime backbeat here, which is when you spank the snare on beat 3, instead of the regular beat 2 and beat 4. 

Step 2 - 16ths & Variation
Ah yeah, it’s kick time! So, we’re gonna get this party started with a bunch of 1/16 notes on the kick, for momentum, and throw a few on the snare too. And you only need to program 2 bars, cos then you just copy and paste ‘em into bars 3 and 4. Also, be sure to use syncopation, for maximum groove! Syncopation is when you play an off-beat, but not the on-beat just before it. And on one of your syncopated 1/8 note kicks, hit a crash as well, to really accent that off-beat. And for the ultimate syncopation, don’t play a kick on beat 1 of bar 2 and bar 4. Yeah this is such a sick trick from Dan, and it takes this groove to a whole new level! Then the final bit of Step 2 is to simply add one 1/16 note to bar 4, to give it some variation, so it rolls around to the beginning. 

Step 3 - Triplets
So many rhythms these days consist of straight notes only, which is fine, but sprinkling a few triplets into a rhythm that’s mainly straight notes, is just so tasty, as they’re totally unexpected! So, change your grid to 1/16 triplets, and get sprinkling. Don’t overdo it though, once per bar is plenty! 

Step 4 - Melody
Lastly, now that your rhythm is pumping, it’s time to turn it into a "melodic rhythm". So copy and paste your kick and snare rhythm into a guitar, bass or synth track, and then extend all the notes to the right, so there’s no rests in between the notes. Next, move the notes up and down to create your melody. And if you’re going for something heavy like Architects, then use dissonant intervals, which are the intervals of 1 semitone, 3 semitones, 6 semitones, 8 semitones, 10 semitones, and 11 semitones. And with that, you’re done!

Lastly, thanks big time to everyone who made this video possible: Nolly, Matt, Misha, and our good chum Dez (who’s not only part of GetGood Drums, he’s also in one of our favourite bands: Good Tiger), and big thanks to our studio wizard Meyrick de la Fuente (from the band Exist Immortal) for mixing and mastering the example in this video, and last but definitely not least, thanks to the mighty Malcolm Shoolbraid (who’s the drummer from Thigma) for doing the playthrough. And by the way, Thigma’s debut album (which was produced by Ray), is coming out soon, so check out their link below, cos if you dig Architects, you’ll dig Thigma. Finally, please note that despite the live drummer in the playthrough video, all the drums you’re hearing are the programmed MIDI drums with 100% of the sounds coming from the Modern & Massive library, we just wanted a drummer in the playthrough, so all the non-drummers watching can see the pattern being played.

So, now that you’ve got one section down, how do you write a new section for it, and then, how do you transition between those two sections? Great questions, and if this is something you need help with, then check out our cutting-edge online apprenticeship course, where you’ll literally learn every step of the music making process, and most importantly, you’ll learn how to finish your songs! Also, please note that we intentionally wrote our example to be very similar to Architects, but we did that for the sake of this lesson. So, instead of copying Architects, please explore how you can use this hack creatively with your own musical personality, so it sounds like you! Alright, that’s it! We really hope this video has inspired and empowered you, and if it has, please drop us a comment on YouTube. We love hearing from you! Thanks for joining the Hack Music Theory revolution, and we’ll see you next week!

Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada


1: Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
2: Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
3: Learn our Secret Art of Song-Whispering, and effortlessly finish your music!

Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music. Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and wife) Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), and many more. Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his Hack Music Theory method! While these Hack Music Theory YouTube lessons teach music theory for producers and DAW users, they are designed to accommodate all music makers (songwriters, guitarists, etc.) and all genres, from Electronic Music to R&B, Pop to Hip-Hop, Reggae to Rock, EDM/Dance to Metal (and yes, we djefinitely Djent!).

Photo of Architects courtesy of Epitaph Records