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Writing Riffs

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5 Users
Active Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2
Topic starter  

Not sure if this belongs here or the song writing forum, so I apologize if this is in the wrong place.

I've been writing my own stuff, but I'm having a problem writing my own riffs that would really grab someones attention.

What do all of you do to write your own riffs? Just curious to see what your methods are, and if you have any tricks of the trade. Thanks!

Illustrious Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 8184

i generally like riffs that sound unforced, so i just play around awhile until i do something i like, and keep that. or i'll have some emotion or thought that's just, you know, swallowing me whole, and i'll grab the guitar and try to paint that picture.
this last riff i just wrote came while i was reading lyrics. i wasn't really thinking about what i was doing, just rereading something i had written, and i noticed i was playing something that sounded like what i was trying to convey, so i went with that.
it also helps to have an understanding of what works as a riff. muddy waters, led zeppelin, those guys built song after song on tight little riffs that have a ton of feeling but aren't complicated. beethoven's 5th was a simple riff.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 6348

I tend to pick out notes within the root chord of the song. then I create a little story. sometimes it follows the melody.
some notes seem top stand out so I build things around those. some notes I seem to hit a lot, so I purposely play them on different parts of the neck. I typically play up and down the neck, rarely staying in one area. the same notes sound totally different when played on different parts of the neck.
lately, I have been chasing two notes at a time. I like the harmonies of those 'double stops'.
adding a bend instead of playing the next interval is a must. it makes for feeling and interest.

some licks have great hooks. it amazes me that they are usually so simple. how Do they do that?
finally, a good lick has context. it fits within the framework of the song.

Eminent Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 21

i just alter chords, or pick out random notes from a scale (usually the blues scale or the major scale) until i get something that sounds good.

sometimes ill experiment with moving powerchords around until something good comes out of it.

ive been working on the same song for nearly 3 months and still have to do solos, harmonys and a whole bunch of other parts. its a slow process.

Fortune, Fame, Mirror, Vain, Gone Insane But The Memory Remains

Noble Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1224

I'm having a problem writing my own riffs that would really grab someones attention!

It's NOT in the notes...but the feel you put into each one. ONLY that will grab someone's attention. Listen to the first note in Strange Brew.


"Feel what you what you feel!"