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How do you write a riff?

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by TangerineDog, Aug 5, 2018.

  1. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    I can sell you some ointment...
     
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  2. simoncroft

    simoncroft Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    62
    May 30, 2013
    SE England
    There are other strategies for getting out of a creative rut. For instance, see what happens if you pick up a bass guitar, or try a different tuning.

    If you know your way round a DAW, there's a way of creating riffs that doesn't even involve playing a musical instrument in the first instance. Find your self a MIDI drum pattern that you'd like your riff to be based on. Drag a copy of the MIDI drum part onto another MIDI track and assign it to a keyboard synth of sampler. It will now start to play a load of discordant nonsense! (Usually.)

    In Piano Roll, Score, or whatever environment you usually use to clean up MIDI parts drag the notes the drum pattern is playing to new pitches. Keep going until you like the riff you've created. (You may have to delete some notes if it was a busy drum part.)

    Now learn to play it on guitar!
     
    circles, velvet_man and Thrup'ny Bit like this.

  3. apm1991

    apm1991 Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    27
    Feb 14, 2017
    Arizona
    I can't force it... give me a few beers and let me jam.. turn on the recorder... listen to it back... whoa! that riff was awesome! lets start writing a new song
     
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  4. Chont

    Chont Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 25, 2012
    Pennsylvania
    Not that I'm some riff meister but the ones I have come up with in the past that I've been most happy with or lent themselves to song Ideas were usually when I was trying stuff I don't normally do. Same with solos.

    Steve Clark... now there's a Riff Meister.
     
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  5. Hudman_1

    Hudman_1 Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    49
    336
    May 12, 2018
    Gibraltar Michigan
    Random noodling produces some interesting riffs from time to time. What drives me crazy is when I think I came up with an awesome riff only to realize it’s sonething from an old song I never played before but recently listened to on the radio. I think it’s a subconscious thing.
     
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  6. Strat Jacket

    Strat Jacket Senior Stratmaster

    May 11, 2018
    Illinois
    From a workingman hack's notebook...
    Many times when I feel devoid of creativity, I put DOWN the guitar and spend an hour or two listening to bands or guitarists on YT that might be in the same vein I'm trying to create in. Then, and only then, I pick up the guitar, and while not trying to copy any particular riff or melodic structure, I'll find that whatever I've been listening to I'm actually 'channeling' by osmosis or whatever and it just emerges in what I'm playing.
    It's almost as if you are priming the pump.
     
    circles likes this.

  7. TangerineDog

    TangerineDog Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 5, 2015
    The EU
    Yeah, that's what I said...
     
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  8. Tom Cat Strat

    Tom Cat Strat Strat-Talker

    Age:
    30
    115
    Jun 3, 2018
    New York
    Steal.

    Seriously, listen to a riff you like...and then just change a note or two and change the rhythm and tempo. All the best do that.

    - The Beatles "I Feel Fine" riff is stolen from Bobby Parker's "Watch Your Step"
    - The Monkees' "Pleasant Valley Sunday" riff is stolen from The Beatles "I Want To Tell You"
    - Nirvana's "Come As You Are" riff is stolen from Killing Joke's "Eighties"
    - Joy Division's rhythm riff for "Interzone" is stolen from Nolan Porter's "Keep On Keeping On"

    The examples are endless. Just take a riff you like and rework it. Everybody does it...and some have made millions of dollars doing it.
     
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  9. Strat Jacket

    Strat Jacket Senior Stratmaster

    May 11, 2018
    Illinois
    Yeah, just change it up enough so you don't wind up in court over it like poor George Harrison.
    ("He's So Fine"...seriously?)
     

  10. GoldenEagle0308

    GoldenEagle0308 Strat-Talker

    421
    Jul 11, 2014
    Denver
    I usually screw around with a scale (or the individual notes in a chord) until a cool riff materializes.
     
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  11. GoldenEagle0308

    GoldenEagle0308 Strat-Talker

    421
    Jul 11, 2014
    Denver
    This is so true. I've come up with a lot of cool riffs by doing the same thing.
     

  12. Lone Woof

    Lone Woof Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 30, 2014
    WI
    I don't "write" riffs, I just come up with them. Like, all the time. Half of them, or more, I forget. But trust me, they were great. My problem is I don't know where to take them.
     

  13. Jimistone

    Jimistone Strat-Talk Member

    90
    Jul 10, 2012
    Mississippi
    Curt Cobain said that "smells like teen spirit" was him trying to play Boston's "more than a feeling" riff.

    He didn't know how to play it right and the rest is history
     

  14. Tom Cat Strat

    Tom Cat Strat Strat-Talker

    Age:
    30
    115
    Jun 3, 2018
    New York
    I always believed that it wasn't the Boston song Cobain lifted for "Smells Like Teen Spirit," rather it was the Love And Rockets tune "No New Tale To Tell." Listen to it, starts at 25 seconds in, it really is a lot closer than "More Than A Feeling" plus it was a song that was on the radio/MTV when Nirvana were working on the NEVERMIND album.

     

  15. Jimistone

    Jimistone Strat-Talk Member

    90
    Jul 10, 2012
    Mississippi
    It may be.
    I was just going by what Cobain said in an interview
     

  16. Mutnemom52

    Mutnemom52 Strat-Talker

    Age:
    66
    287
    Apr 3, 2018
    Kentucky
    On the Sunshine of Your Love solo,Eric Clapton played the melody to Blue Moon.
     

  17. rgbedard

    rgbedard Strat-Talker Strat-Talk Supporter

    140
    Feb 3, 2018
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I almost always develop new ideas worth using during improvisation ... play challenge and response stuff, developing the ideas ... it's how I come up with my "best" stuff ... when I was young, used to write ideas on paper that seemed good (or interesting experiments), but that stuff never was as good as just "feeling" it ... call it intuition or channeling or just keeping the brain out of the way ...
     

  18. That's fine, take the chord progression and give it a different rhythm. No-one will know. Except us. You shouldn't have told us. ;)
     

  19. TangerineDog

    TangerineDog Senior Stratmaster

    Sep 5, 2015
    The EU
    I will know. I won't be able to unhear what it was - same with our reverse record of Highway to Hell.
    There's just something missing in there. That 'you've done something yourself' vibe.
     

  20. Stratoman10

    Stratoman10 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 24, 2015
    Va. Beach, Va
    They just pop up out of nowhere for me. Usually when I mess up on something else
     
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