What exactly is the difference between a riff and a lick?


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edusty2010
12-06-2008, 01:58 AM
A friend and I were discussing this today. I guess I thought a riff was more a rhythm while a lick was more of a lead, like a solo or etc.

What do you guys think? Is there a difference? Or are they the same thing? (tomato/tomAto... etc...)

srvflood
12-06-2008, 02:00 AM
nothing

boxerb
12-06-2008, 02:04 AM
I always thought riff was more of a rockish/metal kind of thing and licks were bluesy or jazzy

i could be completely wrong though.

Natrone
12-06-2008, 02:04 AM
A riff is a lick that is played behind vocals. A lick is a riff that is played by itself. A lick is more of a fill.

I'm just making random crap up. Random crap is filling this post. I do believe I'm going insane.

beau05
12-06-2008, 02:05 AM
imo, if you use food as a comparison, a hearty piece of steak is the riff, the garnish/sauce is the lick

edusty2010
12-06-2008, 02:07 AM
imo, if you use food as a comparison, a hearty piece of steak is the riff, the garnish/sauce is the lick

I completely understand now :p:

BadAssMoma
12-06-2008, 02:09 AM
locks seem to be shorter than riffs.

HendrixClaptonP
12-06-2008, 02:11 AM
riffs are usually main oparts to songs, for example Satuisfaction,smoke on the water etc.

Luicks are short musical phrases that are sort of generic, i.e. you can use them anywhere, they are not neccessarily suggestive of one song, eg. parts of solos.

frigginjerk
12-06-2008, 02:14 AM
riffs are more about rhythm, and licks are more about melody. plus the steak and steak sauce analogy was perfect.

Natrone
12-06-2008, 02:15 AM
imo, if you use food as a comparison, a hearty piece of steak is the riff, the garnish/sauce is the lick
I'm seriously considering sigging that, or at least quoting it somewhere. AWESOME analogy!

johnny butt
12-06-2008, 02:15 AM
riffs are repeated whereas licks are not?

DeltaFunk
12-06-2008, 03:24 AM
imo, if you use food as a comparison, a hearty piece of steak is the riff, the garnish/sauce is the lick
This lol

+1

Guitargod12345
12-06-2008, 04:31 AM
the terms don't mean anything, a lick is a sweeping motion of a toungue over an object.

mju4t
12-06-2008, 06:08 AM
A riff is a member of the people who inhabit Er Rif, a hilly region across the coast of northern Morocco; however, it is improperly spelled as it is a proper noun and thus should be capitalized.

.:Darkness:.
12-06-2008, 06:37 AM
The answer is pretty clear but a riff is a short line usually 1-4 bars that is repeated and almost always maces up the rhythm of the song.

A lick is generally a shorter 1-2 bar line that isn't repeated. Lick's make up fills and most solo's are many different licks used together.

Oblivion_Rps
12-06-2008, 06:57 AM
The riff is sorta like the main motif(s) of the song. Something that can be remembered.
A lick is just like a short fill.

LeftyDave
12-06-2008, 09:14 AM
You can riff a lick, but never, ever try to lick a riff. You'll get fuzz in your mouth.

shredforbread33
12-06-2008, 09:16 AM
imo, if you use food as a comparison, a hearty piece of steak is the riff, the garnish/sauce is the lick
Everyone thinks this is funny but it's pretty much the best way to understand the difference. Good job.

steven seagull
12-06-2008, 10:33 AM
riffs are repeated whereas licks are not?
this

A riff is a recognisable, repeating musical figure that tends to have its roots in the songs main chord progression.

A lick is just a short musical phrase, usually referring to lead work.

LeftyDave
12-06-2008, 11:14 AM
Yes, this ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
As for my previous post, I had a momentary lapse of reason.:)

El CumanÚs
12-06-2008, 03:29 PM
I always considered the term "lick" for solos and "riff" for ryhthm.

steven seagull
12-06-2008, 03:37 PM
True also, riffs tend to be rhythmic devices.

Dave_Mc
12-06-2008, 04:19 PM
this

A riff is a recognisable, repeating musical figure that tends to have its roots in the songs main chord progression.

A lick is just a short musical phrase, usually referring to lead work.

yeah, pretty much.

though you can repeat licks too (end of the stairway to heaven solo, for example).

generally, i'd go with what the threadstarter originally said (riff is rhythm, lick is lead), but expanded slightly for the riff to have its roots in the song's main chord progression/to be more involved in the song's structure, as mark said. :)

DeepLord
07-17-2010, 04:42 AM
Best 2 examples I can think of is a riff is Rolling Stones "Satisfaction" think of how that tune is played, a no brainer, and it is consistent through out the song. Now think of Van Halen's version of 'You Really Got Me' if you don't know it or can't think of it, just get the damn song and listen to it. You hear the rhythm and through out the song you hear Eddie throw in quite a few licks. That's the difference!

Offworld92
07-17-2010, 06:07 AM
I generally think of riffs as chord based, and licks as note based.

Riffs would be the main parts of a song, whereas licks would be any of the "solos", whether they be main solos or just short little... well... licks.

ibanezgod1973
07-17-2010, 07:24 AM
can`t believe you bumped a 2 year old thread

Nimbus456
07-17-2010, 08:18 AM
A riff is usually used as a part of a song, with some kind of accompanyment.
A lick is like a fill or a phrase that is unimportant to the rest of the piece, it's more for show and sound asthetics then anything.

Riff - structure
Lick - short solo.

Offworld92
07-17-2010, 06:12 PM
can`t believe you bumped a 2 year old thread

Holy shit.

:facepalm:

ron666
07-17-2010, 07:09 PM
Both a short pieces of music and there is not that much of a difference between the two. But one minor diff would be that a riff is a memorable into to a song. The riff is what grabs your attention and makes the song instantly memorable. Sometimes the riff gets repeated throughout the song, so it can make up most of the songs' structure.

A lick is short and is usually part of a solo. It is usually not repeated, but it is memorable because of its sound or some other quality.

This is the basic differences.

ron666

Verxin
07-17-2010, 08:04 PM
A riff is a lick that is played behind vocals. A lick is a riff that is played by itself. A lick is more of a fill.

I'm just making random crap up. Random crap is filling this post. I do believe I'm going insane.

This seems about exactly what I was going to say.

Goodtimes666
07-17-2010, 08:33 PM
a riff would be a rhythm line, a lick is like a little trick to use while soloing. so a double hammer on into a tap or whatever would be the lick and what the rhythm guitar plays under that is a riff. make sense?

staggguitarhead
07-18-2010, 08:06 AM
i think lick is more to do with metal
and riff is ti do with classic rock

Nirvana_RATM2
07-18-2010, 08:12 AM
i think lick is more to do with metal
and riff is ti do with classic rock

That's the oddest one yet IMO.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbm6GXllBiw

So the intro to Paradise City would be a riff ; The picked out G-C-F Chords. ( Riff A )
The G-C-F Power Chords would be another Riff ( Riff B )
The guitar part @ 1:03 would be a lick.

I think of riff's as anything that's NOT included in the solo. A bunch of licks constitute a solo , a bunch of riff's constitute a song. imo.