7 Essential Techniques for Playing Piano in Metal Music
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Play Power Chords on the Piano
  2. Use Arpeggios for Metal Melodies
  3. Incorporate Double Bass Drumming Patterns
  4. Create Dramatic Pauses with Silences
  5. Use Diminished and Augmented Chords
  6. Apply Palm Muting Technique
  7. Experiment with Mixolydian Mode

Have you ever wondered if your piano skills could create a thunderous roar similar to that of a metal band? Whether you're a long-time metal fan looking to bring its high-energy vibe to your piano playing, or you're a pianist intrigued by the powerful sound of metal music, this blog is your guide on how to play piano for metal. Don't worry! It doesn't require you to morph your piano into a guitar or drum set. Instead, it's all about mastering some specific techniques that can transform your piano playing into a headbanging, metal-worthy performance. So, let's dive in, shall we?

Play Power Chords on the Piano

First off, let's talk about power chords. These chords are the backbone of many metal songs. They're like the secret ingredient in your grandma's famous stew—without them, it just wouldn't taste the same.

So, how to play these power chords on the piano? Easy peasy! Power chords, also known as fifth chords, are composed of just two notes: the root note and the fifth. For instance, if you want to play a C power chord, you'll play the C (which is the root note) and the G (which is the fifth note in the C major scale).

Here's a quick step-by-step guide:

  1. Find the root note: This is the note that gives the power chord its name. If you're playing a C power chord, C is your root note.
  2. Count five whole steps from the root note: This will be the fifth note. For example, if C is your root note, G is your fifth.
  3. Play them together: Press down both the root and fifth notes at the same time, and voila! You've just played a power chord.

Remember, power chords are all about creating that raw, heavy sound that's so characteristic of metal music. So, don't be shy—really lean into those notes and let your piano roar!

Use Arpeggios for Metal Melodies

Now that we've got power chords under our belt, let's move on to arpeggios. In the world of piano playing for metal, arpeggios are like the flashy solos of a lead guitarist. They're a killer way to show off your chops and add some melodic flair to your metal sound.

So, what exactly are arpeggios? Well, think of them as chords, but instead of playing all the notes at once, you play them one after the other. This creates a lovely "rippling" effect, almost like a wave crashing on the shore.

Here's a simple three-step guide on how to play arpeggios:

  1. Pick a chord: Let's say we choose a C major chord, which consists of C, E, and G.
  2. Break it down: Instead of playing C, E, and G all at once, play them sequentially. So, you'd play C, then E, then G.
  3. Repeat: Once you've played all the notes, start over from the beginning.

Arpeggios can be a bit tricky at first, especially if you're trying to play them fast. But with some practice, you'll be ripping through them like a pro. And boy, will they make your metal piano playing sound epic!

Incorporate Double Bass Drumming Patterns

Are you ready to bring the thunder? Double bass drumming patterns aren't just for drummers, and you can incorporate them into your piano playing to add that extra punch to your metal music.

What are double bass drumming patterns? These are rhythmic patterns that drummers use, typically with twin pedals on a single bass drum or two separate bass drums. The result? A rapid, powerful beat that's quintessential to the metal genre.

Now you might be thinking: "How do I incorporate a drumming pattern on a piano?" Here's how:

  1. Identify the pattern: Listen to some metal songs with prominent double bass drumming. Notice the rhythm and pace.
  2. Translate to the piano: Try to mimic that rhythm on your lower keys. Remember, your left hand will be your "double bass" here.
  3. Practice: Start slow and then gradually increase your speed as you get more comfortable.

Using drumming patterns on the piano might seem a bit unconventional, but that's the beauty of playing piano for metal—it breaks traditional boundaries and lets you explore new horizons of musical expression. So, give it a try and feel the power of the double bass!

Create Dramatic Pauses with Silences

Want to know a secret about how to play piano for metal? It's not just about the notes you play—it's also about the moments when you don't. That's right: silence can be a powerful tool in your metal piano toolkit.

Silence in music, also known as a rest, can create a dramatic pause, build anticipation, or give listeners a moment to absorb the intensity of the music. This technique is especially effective in metal music, where dramatic contrasts and suspenseful moments can take the listening experience to a whole new level.

So, how can you create these dramatic pauses? Here are some pointers:

  1. Plan your pauses: Think about where a pause might add drama or tension in your piece. It could be right before the chorus kicks in or just after a powerful riff.
  2. Use different lengths of silence: A short silence creates a quick breath of anticipation. A longer silence can make your listeners wonder what's coming next. Experiment with both!
  3. Don't overdo it: Like any other technique, the power of silence lies in its judicious use. Too many pauses can disrupt the flow of your piece, so use them wisely.

Remember, while playing piano for metal is about creating a wall of sound, it’s also about knowing when to let that wall crumble into silence. So, next time you're at the keys, don't be afraid to take a moment of quiet. Your listeners—and your music—will thank you.

Use Diminished and Augmented Chords

Switching gears a bit, let's talk about the backbone of your metal piano playing: chords. Sure, you're probably comfortable with your major and minor chords, but how often do you venture out to diminished and augmented chords? If your answer is 'not much,' then it's time to change that.

Diminished and augmented chords can add an extra layer of depth and complexity to your metal music. And the good news? They're not as daunting as they might sound. Let's break it down:

  1. Diminished Chords: These are the chords that sound tense and unstable. They're often used in metal music to create a sense of unease or anticipation. To form a diminished chord, you simply take a minor chord and lower the fifth note by a half step.
  2. Augmented Chords: On the flip side, augmented chords sound mysterious and unresolved. They're perfect for adding a touch of the unexpected to your music. To make an augmented chord, you take a major chord and raise the fifth note by a half step.

Are you starting to see how these chords can add new dimensions to your metal piano music? It's like adding a dash of spice to a recipe—it might not be the main ingredient, but it can dramatically change the flavor. So, don't shy away from these 'spicy' chords. Embrace them, experiment with them, and see how they can elevate your metal piano playing. Trust me, you won't regret it.

Apply Palm Muting Technique

Ok, so you might be thinking, "Palm muting? Isn't that a guitar thing?" You're not wrong, but hang on a second. This technique can do wonders for your metal piano playing, even if it sounds a bit offbeat.

First off, what is palm muting? In the guitar world, it involves resting the palm of your strumming hand on the strings to create a 'muted' sound. But how can we apply this to a piano, you ask? Here's where we get creative.

You can mimic the palm muting effect on a piano by lightly pressing the keys without fully depressing them. This gives you a muted, or 'palm muted,' effect. It might take some practice to get it right, but once you do, it can add a whole new dimension to your music.

  1. How to do it: Try resting your fingers lightly on the keys, almost as if you're caressing them. Then, instead of pressing down fully, only press halfway. You should hear a softer, muted sound.
  2. When to use it: Palm muting works great for creating a sense of tension or suspense in your music. It can also add a unique texture to your melodies, making them stand out in a sea of loud, aggressive metal riffs.

So, give palm muting a shot the next time you're at the piano. It might feel a bit strange at first, but remember, great things never come from comfort zones. Who knows, it might just become your secret weapon for playing piano in metal music.

Experiment with Mixolydian Mode

Let's talk about modes. Specifically, the Mixolydian mode. If you're wondering how to play piano for metal and give your music a distinct flavor, the Mixolydian mode might be just the thing you're looking for.

Now, don't fret if modes sound like a complicated topic. They're simpler than you might think. Simply put, the Mixolydian mode is a scale that starts and ends on the fifth note of a major scale.

Why is this important, you ask? Well, the Mixolydian mode has a unique characteristic — it contains a flattened seventh note, which gives it a dominant, edgy sound. This makes it an excellent choice for creating that classic, hard-hitting metal vibe on the piano.

  1. How to do it: To play in Mixolydian mode, start by playing a major scale. Then, simply start and end on the fifth note. For example, if you're playing a C major scale, your Mixolydian mode would start and end on G.
  2. When to use it: The Mixolydian mode is perfect for creating riffs and solos with a bit of an edge. It can add a unique flavor to your music that sets it apart from the typical minor and major scales.

So, why not give the Mixolydian mode a go? Trying out new scales and modes is a great way to expand your musical vocabulary and add some spice to your metal piano playing. You might be surprised at the difference a single flattened note can make!

If you're looking to improve your piano skills in metal music and want to take your techniques to the next level, we recommend exploring Daisie's classes for more guidance and inspiration. With a wide range of workshops and classes, you'll find the perfect resources to help you grow as a musician and excel in your craft.