#1
So recently I've noticed an odd trend with my riffs/licks: they're all cool sounding to me, but they are usually only two measures long, next two measures transpose to a new chord, repeat. I feel like this is wrong. When I think of memorable riffs, I think of stuff like Plug-In Baby by Muse, Laid to Rest by Lamb of God, Pictures of Home by Deep Purple, etc. All of those have lead riffs/licks that have a lot of variety over many measures rather than just one "shape" repeated over a progression, which I keep on doing the latter.

How can I stop this? I can think of a cool short riff, but I just repeat that which feels "wrong" to me. Or is this even a bad thing and I'm just making mountains out of molehills?
#2
Try a kind of theme and variations approach. Come up with a riff and play it for so many measures, then when the chord of the song changes, change the riff to that key, but also try jazzing up the rhythm, intervals, etc. See how that works for ya
If man is 5, if man is 5, if man is 5,
then the Devil is 6, then the Devil is 6, then the Devil is 6, the Devil is 6,
And if the Devil is 6,

then God is 7, then God is 7, then God is 7
This monkey's gone to heaven.
#3
^^ that is the best advice you can get, plug in baby is just something played with slight variations and stuff. try doing that or playing them in different positions to see if new ideas come to you
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#4
You could try writing the general shape you want you solo to follow as a line that goes up and down.

In a lot of solos or long licks you will notice that they don't just stay in the same note range, they often graually ascend then descend a bit then go even higher for the loud finish. By forcing yourself to follow a certain pattern you can stop your riffs becoming repetitive. Hopefully that made some sense.
#5
Thought that slight variations had something to do with it. I've tried that, though, and it just comes out either sounding forced and bland or like I'm trying to duct tape two riffs together.

Quote by 12345abcd3
You could try writing the general shape you want you solo to follow as a line that goes up and down.

In a lot of solos or long licks you will notice that they don't just stay in the same note range, they often graually ascend then descend a bit then go even higher for the loud finish. By forcing yourself to follow a certain pattern you can stop your riffs becoming repetitive. Hopefully that made some sense.


Sorry man, having a bit of trouble understanding what you mean... Do you mean trying to learn something like the pentatonic scale or common solo rhythms so I'll be able to use them as "fills" for a repeated riff line?
#6
http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/columns/music_theory/how_about_cadences.html

Try that. It's for chords, but it should help. Just remember, the 'end to a passage' doesn't necessarily mean the end to the song, but more like the end to a phrase. So if you were using a I - IV - V progression, and you want an authentic cadence, you can go to back to the I chord, but use a totally different chord progression from there. You could mess with the melody to fit the chords (or not, as the same melody under different chords provides a different feel), or you can base a totally new melody off those chords.

Also, try different phrasing. Don't always end you riffs at the end of the bar, or at the start of a bar. Try changing the upbeats and downbeats (syncopation)
Last edited by Dregen at Jul 30, 2009,
#7
Woah, Dregen, I think you nailed my problem! I do have the tendency to make my riffs 'n licks last for exactly two bars and to end on the tonic, it's as if I'm writing myself into these short phrases. And I completely forgot about incorporating cadences, too. Not sure if this will help me develop more complex riffs with ease, but this'll definitely help.

Huge thanks!
#10
Quote by GuerillaGorilla
Sorry man, having a bit of trouble understanding what you mean... Do you mean trying to learn something like the pentatonic scale or common solo rhythms so I'll be able to use them as "fills" for a repeated riff line?


Sorry, what I meant was that instead of having your entire riff in a small range, say an octave, you could think of the general direction you want your solo to go in. For example, if you wanted the riff to build in intensity then you could gradually use notes that are higher up.

Eg (this is the first example i thought of); http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvO7HNQPFRI&feature=related

Listen to the solo in that intro (and maybe look up the tab), you can hear that it is gradually getting higher moving from the low E string up all the way to around the 12th fret on the high E string.

If you were to draw the general shape like a line graph then it would be a line going gradually upwards. Not every note is above the previous one but as it goes along it does in general get higher.

You could do a similar thing with your riff, just by thinking about in what direction you want the riff to go.