The Djent onomatopoeia has been popularized by the unmistakable riff of Meshuggah and other bands. It is commonly used to refer to a variety of progressive metal bands that have a similar sound or style. If you want to know how to play some Djent riffs and achieve that signature sound, learn the basics, tones, and riffs.
Part 1 of 3: Listening to Djent Music
Step 1. Understand the meaning of the Djent
It is an onomatopoeia used to refer to the tone of the guitar and a stylized riff used in a variety of progressive metal music. The term was originally used by Meshuggah guitarist Fredrik Thordendal to refer to a type of tone he was trying to achieve. Now this term is used by fans (and detractors) of a particular group of bands that use that tone, specifically in lead guitar riffs and breakdowns.
In the metal community, there is a debate as to whether djent is a strong genre or style or whether it has so much power of resistance to define it as a style
Step 2. Listen to djent bands
The band Meshuggah has earned credit for being the band that popularized and coined the djent tone, although today it applies to a variety of progressive metal, pop metal, and metalcore bands that have incorporated djent breakdowns into their songs. If you want to know the djent sound, listen to the following bands:
- Animals as Leaders
- Born of Osiris
Step 3. Listen to compilations of djent riffs on YouTube
If you want to listen to the riffs specifically to understand what Fredrik was referring to, there are a variety of djent compilations on YouTube that bring together the most metal and djent riffs out there. It's a good way to do quick research.
Step 4. Listen to other types of music that have djent influences
Again, the existence of djent as a particular genre is debatable and it is mainly a phenomenon that reached the top in some metalcore bands between the years 2010 to 2012. Therefore, there are not many bands that self-identify as djent, but you will be able to hear the It influences the style of your music as it refers only to a particular tone and style of riff. You can listen to djent riffs in:
- Deathcore or death metal
- Metalcore, pop metal, or screamo
- Prog metal or math rock
Part 2 of 3: Achieving the Djent Sound
Step 1. Grab a guitar with extra strings
First of all, puffed djent riffs are played on the lowest string of a guitar with additional strings, mainly one tone lower than the D (RE) string or lower if possible. It's perfectly fine to play djent riffs on a six-string guitar, but with a guitar with many strings it will be easier to dedicate a particular string to play the breakdown riff without having to sacrifice any particular string for it.
Usually djent guitarists tune the guitar to standard pitch (E-A-D-G-Si-E), then lower the pitch to the lowest string on the guitar until it matches a particular song
Step 2. Consider the profit
Contrary to popular belief, the djent tone is characterized by low gain compared to other heavy styles. After plugging in your (hopefully) multi-string guitar, turn up the gain on a distortion pedal or amp to the point where the smooth sound is barely distorted and the low notes sound mostly unchanged.
Depending on the amp you're using, you'll generally want to turn down most if not all of the effects, especially latency, tremolo, or reverb. Djent tone is generally crisp and dry, so you'll want to set things as high-pitched as possible
Step 3. Get a distortion or effects pedal
For breakdowns, you need to power up the volume and give it punch when you're ready to riff djent during a breakdown. The best way to do this is with a distortion pedal. These pedals deliver higher gain with a roaring tone for djenting.
Use the compressor effect to keep the signal regulated and the notes at the same amplitude. This will help you keep the djent riff on the same level as the other notes you play in the song, and the individual notes of the riff are equalized. Since it's so percussive, this is an essential pedal on your rig
Step 4. Use a chorus effect or an octave
While it is not necessary to play a djent riff, the specific pitch of the djent riff is very interesting and unique in that it uses both the high and low sounds at the same time, even if it is a single note. In part, this is a virtue of low tuning and a result of the guitar's micro tones and harmony. You can emphasize this effect by using a chorus effect or an octave on the pedal board while keeping the volume relatively low.
Depending on the gear and guitar, this may be totally unnecessary and can turn off the tone. If you like djent riffs without using these pedals, you don't need to purchase them
Part 3 of 3: Playing djent music
Step 1. Learn how to use the palm mute
It is essential for playing djent and most metal riffs. Learn to use the pick with alternating movements while muting all the strings on the guitar, or at least the strings that you are playing. To do this, use the edge of your hand to control the sound and make the percussive puff of the riff stand out more.
Take the hand with which you will use the pick and rest on the strings the space between the little finger and the wrist, in the middle of the bridge and the magnetic capsule. Pick an alternating pattern on the lowest string of the guitar. Now you are close to playing a djent
Step 2. Write poly-rhythmic riffs on a single note
Poly rhythms are a common feature of djent and most progressive music or math metal. Basically, this means that the riff is played at a distinctly different beat from other styles or the beat at which it is played. This can be played in conjunction with the verses and choruses or with the drums in the riff itself.
If the concept of poly-rhythms is too complicated for you, think of it as playing riffs “out of time”, as if you and the drummer are playing slightly different songs, but at the same tempo and working together to create an effect
Step 3. Do the puff
Say the word djent five times, do it fast. This is how riffs should sound. Think of you as using the lowest string on the guitar as if it were a drum to play a rhythmic and melodic “fill-in” so everyone can shake their heads. The heavier and more rhythmic it is, the better.
Most djent riffs include no more than one or two notes, so there is no need to make it complicated. Most djent riffs are played on the lowest string of the guitar, without fretting
Step 4. Make breakdowns a feature of the music
One of the pillars of the math core is the abrupt transition between the different parts of the song. Riff breakdowns generally slow the tempo down a bit in line with verses and choruses. It is quite common to start a djent song with a breakdown riff, then speed it up to sing the verse, then switch to chorus and then back to
- magnificent arpeggiated solos
- pop choirs
- Frequent djent breakdown and explosive beats
- abrupt tempo transitions