#1
So I've been playing guitar for about 4 years, and I was just wondering, what do I need to learn to be able to create more interesting riffs? More importantly, do most death metal/ tech death bands know music theory?

For example, I would love to be able to throw down a nice solo in some of my songs, but the process is grueling for me. It pretty much just involves taking one of my fav. riffs from the song, going up an octave, and tinkering around.

Do bands such as Between the Buried and Me, As Blood Runs Black, Conducting from the Grave, etc, all know music theory?

If so where should I start? I believe I need a book. I know steps and intervals, and the circle of fifths, and a bit about triads, but once I get further the internet seems to fail me.

I know I asked a lot of questions, hopefully you guys can help.
#2
Ive been playing almost as long as you have, and i used to force myself to come up with riffs. towards the end they would always end up sounding very generic and i didnt like it. instead i starting writing my own music and i stopped comparing my sound to other bands. and so far theyve been pretty badass. i dont know alot about music theory, mostly chords, and stuff like that, but if you wanna write something good, for me, you gotta feel it and forget about everyone else

edit: start by learning scale patterns in the key your riff is in. that should help alot
Last edited by killer puppy at Jul 17, 2010,
#3
Write out the major scale, and learn the major/minor/diminished tonality of each triad for each note in the scale if you don't know it already. Do it with the harmonic minor too if you plan on using that sound as well. Then you can practice playing the triads in their various shapes and locations around the fretboard, on one string, on two strings, on three strings, and string skipping the arpeggios too. Most decent bands do know theory, its application is usually subconscious when you know it well though. Scale segments are also great and help you get used to all the positions on the neck too.
Those are the things I found have helped riff writing come along anyway.
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#4
listen to the riffs and seriously take them note for note and pick the scale/scales that the riffs in. than variate that scale to totally **** it up and suprise people ^^
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#5
Can't offer much advice, used to have this problem too, and still do a bit.

But my personal philosophy now, might be helpfull to tell you. If I play around with a riff or lead pattern that sounds kinda cool but at the same time sounds very generic or bland, if I'm stuck trying to improve the that part I'm making something cool to play beside it, an instresting rythm or chord combination.

As in, a slightly different context can make crappy stuff sound intresting.

Also remember that anything played on it's own will usualy sound a bit meh. When you hear an awesome riff or melody line from a song, it's not just the riff or melody that is great, there is also other guitars, drums, maybe vocals, etc.
Last edited by ShadesOfGray at Jul 17, 2010,
#6
Thanks for your answers! Keep them coming

Most of these I apply already, with the exception of the theory/ scales. As far as taking a generic or catchy riff and making it interesting, that's what I usually do, I was just interested to see how everyone else does it, and if there is an easier way.

I'm surprised to see there isn't a thread like this sticked already, I know a lot of people that have asked the same questions.
#7
As far as those bands all knowing musical theory, I'd be willing to bet big bucks that its a no. There are many talented guitarists out there who study musical theory and such but just as many who don't know much more than a few scales. A lot of stuff just comes from a lot of playing around and a lot of mess ups. I'm not saying that I know for sure that everyone one of the guitarists you are thinking about doesn't know musical theory, I'm just saying that it seems unlikely and it can be done.
.:Just because you can sweep pick doesn't make you good:.
#9
Quote by Ryte
As far as those bands all knowing musical theory, I'd be willing to bet big bucks that its a no. There are many talented guitarists out there who study musical theory and such but just as many who don't know much more than a few scales. A lot of stuff just comes from a lot of playing around and a lot of mess ups. I'm not saying that I know for sure that everyone one of the guitarists you are thinking about doesn't know musical theory, I'm just saying that it seems unlikely and it can be done.


you'd lose some big bucks. some BTBAM stuff gets pretty heavy into theory. i haven't listened to the other two bands, so i couldn't say anything for them.

riffs aside, theory helps you grow as a musician. when the day comes that you're tired of making riffs and you want to write something nice for small orchestra, being able to write a kickass guitar riff won't help you there.
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#10
Quote by AeolianWolf
you'd lose some big bucks. some BTBAM stuff gets pretty heavy into theory. i haven't listened to the other two bands, so i couldn't say anything for them.

riffs aside, theory helps you grow as a musician. when the day comes that you're tired of making riffs and you want to write something nice for small orchestra, being able to write a kickass guitar riff won't help you there.


I said that I would bet that they didn't all use music theory when writing. I'm sure that there are a lot of bands that due, but equally a lot of bands that don't. It just comes down to asking them. It is possible to write some pretty difficult stuff that seems like you have a knowledge of musical theory and not have a clue about the subject.

I personally don't listen to any of those bands very often, but it was just an opinion. I could be wrong and they all have years of study in the matter, I just think it seems unlikely that they are would have extensive knowledge in the subject.
.:Just because you can sweep pick doesn't make you good:.