Riffs over Chord Progressions


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Corpus
01-05-2008, 01:03 AM
Let me start off by saying that I'm giving theory another chance so this is most certainly a beginners questions. I didn't exactly know what I could search for since I don't know what theory related topics this would incorporate.

I'm fooling around with scales and trying to improvise over some chord progressions. Most of the time it sounds like I'm just meandering around the fretboard but not fitting well with the chords. For example, I'll be improvising using the C Major scale over a chord progression simply made up of diatonic chords. So I'm staying strictly within the bounds of the scale (just to be certain I can avoid any dissonance). I'm not trying to "jam" to no end, I want something more established. I'm trying to write a simple, catchy riff that compliments the chords. I hope this is a clear enough explanation. In a nutshell I want a riff/lick that compliments a chord/progression and has more of an impact.

So my questions would be:

What makes a particular riff sound well over certain chords?
What topics should I look into that would give me a framework for writing riffs over a progression?
Are there any types of chord progressions that offer a better foundation for riffs?




And let me state that I have very little knowledge on this, so don't overlook anything I might need to know. It'd be nice if someone could point me to some resources that focus on how to properly compliment a chord progression.

Alter-Bridge
01-05-2008, 01:11 AM
The one thing I can suggest is to arpeggiate the chords you're playing over (arpeggiate meaning to play the single notes of the chords). So, playing over a C chord for example, you could maybe come up with part of the riff that uses the notes found in the C chord (C, E and G) . Then maybe the next part, you have an E minor chord playing, you could use the notes from the E minor chord (E, G, and B) to continue the riff. If you want to make it more interesting, you could include other notes from the C major scale, and it would still sound ok.

jhjps
01-05-2008, 01:15 AM
are you sure that the chords you're using are in the key of C major? C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am are what you should be using(the seventh chord is B diminished, but i wouldnt worry about that.) also listen to the guy above me, focus on, but dont exclusively use the 3 notes from the chord

e.otso
01-05-2008, 01:19 AM
try to check out John Petrucci's rock discipline lesson, it tackles great information about the
topic your asking.

Corpus
01-05-2008, 01:20 AM
are you sure that the chords you're using are in the key of C major? C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am are what you should be using(the seventh chord is B diminished, but i wouldnt worry about that.) also listen to the guy above me, focus on, but dont exclusively use the 3 notes from the chord

Yes. I was using those chords. Well... those along with some minor sevenths and whatnot. I was looking at some online lesson that had a list of chords found within the scale.

lemonsquares42
01-05-2008, 01:21 AM
Well, if you're taking a progression like, oh, say - C, Am, Em, G ; then try to make sure you're hit the note on the beat that the chord changes to.

Like, when it switches to Am, try to play an A on that downbeat. Something to try to help you make cool riffs is start with something really simple. Like, play along the notes that correspond to the progression. So you'd be playing really simply, a C, then an A, then an E, then a G. Then add a couple notes in between. Keep adding and taking away stuff until you find riffs that you like.

lemonsquares42
01-05-2008, 01:24 AM
And instead of playing single notes, try playing a note, then bending to the note you're going to next. Incorporate bends and slides and hammer ons and pull offs. And stuff like that. Experiment with what sounds good and what doesn't. Oh, and learn other songs too. I get bunches of good ideas from other songs. Learn lots of songs all the way through, including solos. I get a bunch of ideas from other people's solos.

Corpus
01-05-2008, 01:29 AM
try to check out John Petrucci's rock discipline lesson, it tackles great information about the
topic your asking.
I'll check it out and see what it has to offer.


Well, if you're taking a progression like, oh, say - C, Am, Em, G ; then try to make sure you're hit the note on the beat that the chord changes to.

Like, when it switches to Am, try to play an A on that downbeat. Something to try to help you make cool riffs is start with something really simple. Like, play along the notes that correspond to the progression. So you'd be playing really simply, a C, then an A, then an E, then a G. Then add a couple notes in between. Keep adding and taking away stuff until you find riffs that you like.
That actually seems like good, simple tip. I usually try to get too fancy and lose my connection to the chords.

DarTHie
01-05-2008, 07:51 AM
Well, if you're taking a progression like, oh, say - C, Am, Em, G ; then try to make sure you're hit the note on the beat that the chord changes to.

Like, when it switches to Am, try to play an A on that downbeat. Something to try to help you make cool riffs is start with something really simple. Like, play along the notes that correspond to the progression. So you'd be playing really simply, a C, then an A, then an E, then a G. Then add a couple notes in between. Keep adding and taking away stuff until you find riffs that you like.

Yeah rhythm is very important when we're talking about riffs.

lemonsquares42
01-05-2008, 03:06 PM
That actually seems like good, simple tip. I usually try to get too fancy and lose my connection to the chords.

That's really one of the most important things to keep in the back of your mind when doing improvisation. Try to know what chord you're on so you can focus on those notes, and know what the next chord is, so you can transition to the next one.