This is sort of like the sequel to the first article I wrote Composing: Tips and Suggestions. Part 1. First of all let me thank all the critics for their comments, and to them I want to say that the article was not over, and that's why I couldn't touch on so many other issues in the song.
The first article touched only on the basic elements of a song. Plus, I want to remind you people that this article does not deal with pop, country, dance and genres like that. This article deals with rock and everything heavier. Anyway, this article will give you a couple of tips and suggestions on the riff factors needed to make a song, and also to help you make a better song. So here goes.
I understand that I dealt with guitar riffs in the last article, but that was only regarding the main riff. Here, I'm now going to deal with the other important types of riffs.
The main riff is already discussed. Now I want to move into the other riffs namely - the verse riffs, the chorus riffs, bridge riffs, solo riffs and finally ending riffs (which has already been discussed).
Verse riffs can follow two patterns. You can either use the main riff for the verse riff, or make something that goes with the lyrics. Here there are three ways of doing this. The first one is, well, make the riff according to the tune and key of the vocals. In the sense, if the vocals go from a note in C to say a note in G, then your guitar riff will contain notes C and G. The second way is to make sort of a twin tune to the vocals. It's exactly like making a twin lead, only let the first guitar be the vocals, and the second guitar follow the chords of the twin riff. The third way is, let the vocals follow the guitar riff. Confused between the first one and this one? It's simple. In the first type, you made the vocals take first priority. In this type, you make the guitar riff first and then the vocals (something I do). Example is Dream Theater's Under A Glass Moon's first verse riff.
The riffs used for the first verse need not be the same one used for the other verses. They can be different. But the irony here is that the vocals tune too must change. Some clever musicians employ the trick of making a two guitar riff for the verses, and then making two separate verses without the same tune that is followed by the chorus. In the sense, the patterns of their songs are verse 1-guitar riff 1, verse 2-guitar riff 2 and then go to the chorus. Here the hyphen signifies relates to. The patterns, I'll discuss in another article.
It is better to make the verse riffs simple, if you want the listener to divert his attention to the vocals. Else if you want to hide horrible or crap lyrics you can make a very technical riff and make the listener listen to that. But the latter doesn't always work. Power chords added to a couple of notes are the widely used forms of making a guitar riff for the verse.
The X Factor - Riffs are to be made either following the vocals or input vocals on a given guitar riff.
Chorus riffs are normally made very simple. There are a couple of rules in making the chorus riff. Firstly, all chorus riffs must sound the similar if not same. Only subtle differences should be there like a pinch harmonic or say a little fill note. Secondly, chorus riffs are not to follow the main riff, if the main riff is used in the verse. Sounds obvious, but a couple songs are like 1 riff songs, where that riff is played throughout the song, and the song doesn't sound monotonous. If you can do something like that, then hats off to you. Thirdly, if the verse riffs are unique, then in this case the main riff can be used as the chorus riff.
Chorus riffs can be done quite cleverly. After a bit of the vocals, you can add a little guitar lick that amazes the listener. An example? Take Ugly Kid Joe's Too Bad - in the chorus the lead guitarist does this sort of technical shit that sounds pretty cool. Another clever trick is to make 2 choruses. Here the 2nd chorus includes the 1st chorus, and a continuation of the chorus. This is also widely accepted.
The X Factor - Chorus riffs are made using more power chords than usual.
The Bridge Riff
This is a riff I give a lot of importance to. It is always good to have a bridge riff. Why is it important to me? The answer is very simple. Say you're listening to a song with the same patters, the same riffs and the same vocals used over and over again without the slightest change in the tune of the song. You'd probably never want to listen to the song (exception are there) because it's so monotonous. The bridge riff is sort of a relief riff from the original tune to the song, and played normally after either the second chorus or the solo.
Lets take the two scenarios. The bridge riff after the second chorus - this is followed more commonly in rock and roll, not in metal (well at least not a lot). Like I said the bridge is sort of a relief riff. So after the second chorus, the composer either would not like his composition the same throughout, and would want to try something a little different. Therefore, he tricks his listeners into thinking that he's going back to another verse riff, when actually he cleverly changes the tune and goes to the bridge. Now let's take the second scenario - the bridge after the solo. This is not very common, but if it is, it's done very professionally. You'll find it harder to make a bridge after the solo than the 2nd chorus. Again, there is a very clever trick followed by numerous musicians while making the bridge riff after the solo. They sort of slow the pace, or make a softer riff (normally with a clean guitar mode).
Some songs have like 2 or 3 bridges, works most of the time, but the song turns out to be long, almost always above 7 minutes (at least all those songs which I've heard).
The X Factor - Bridge riffs are to be made different to the chorus, and verse riffs, and eventually to the vocals and basic tune of the song.
Not given a lot of importance, but actually very important. The rhythm of the song is normally taken to make a solo. The verse riff is generally taken as the rhythm for the solo. Sometimes, the pattern followed for the vocals of the song (e.g. verse riff 1 to verse riff 2 to chorus riff) is also used.
Some musicians prefer making a whole other riff, something very unique for the solo. This, I definitely respect. This is, you guessed, a bridge riff. Guns n Roses use this pattern for most of their songs. Again, there are 2 scenarios to this type of solo riff. The first one is you can continue with the bridge riff used for the solo, and make vocals (use this with varying drum beats and it will sell) over the bride riff. The second one is not to use the solo riff ever again. Though the first one seems logical and it shows that you're giving importance to all your riffs, but most metal musicians use the second type, for example Megadeth uses the second type very very often.
The X Factor - Must follow the solo, not some random riff that follows only itself.
I think this article is long enough. Once the comments come out, I'll think of making the 3rd part. Again, let me remind my readers that riffs are better if made simple and easy to remember and play. Don't worry if some other guy picks up your riff very fast, and says it's not good because it's easy to play and learn, that's all shit. But beware if he's trying to sell the riff to someone else. Compositions are best played after copyrighting it.
I want to add something to the solo section of my last article that, the X Factor includes 'you must be able to play the solo over and over again, with minor differences, or else it's a spot jam, which no one appreciates.
Also I will be dealing with bass guitar composing after I finish with this series.
Thanks for reading.