#1
Hi.

I have a couple of questions regarding guitar riff writing.

A) what are the best techniques for taking a riff I wrote and making another riff that sounds similar to it? For example in many songs the verse will sound similar to the intro, but both are different and interesting. But when I try, the second riff ends up either sounding completely different or sounding almost exactly the same - making it boring.

B ) I will often write a riff and like it, and then go off it completely within a couple of days. This happen to anyone else?

C) When I try to write, and aren't seeing my band for a while, it's hard to know if something I wrote sounds good or not. Is it safe to trust my own ear or not in these situations?

3 very different questions, but I thought it'd be easier to put them all in the same post. Thanks in advance for any answers.
#2
Quote by 12wilsonh1
Hi.

I have a couple of questions regarding guitar riff writing.

A) what are the best techniques for taking a riff I wrote and making another riff that sounds similar to it? For example in many songs the verse will sound similar to the intro, but both are different and interesting. But when I try, the second riff ends up either sounding completely different or sounding almost exactly the same - making it boring.

Try having them in the same or relative keys, unless you have a good modulation (key change) idea. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I'd recommend learning basic theory stuff like what a "key" means in music.
#3
No although I probably came across as stupid in the post, I do have an understanding of music theory, modes, scales ,keys etc. Just when it comes to writing, even when they're in the same key I struggle to get the desired sound from the second riff.
#4
Quote by 12wilsonh1
Hi.

I have a couple of questions regarding guitar riff writing.

A) what are the best techniques for taking a riff I wrote and making another riff that sounds similar to it? For example in many songs the verse will sound similar to the intro, but both are different and interesting. But when I try, the second riff ends up either sounding completely different or sounding almost exactly the same - making it boring.

I have no hard and fast technique for this. I usually keep playing riffs over and over and try to take it somewhere else. Or I just show it to a friend and see what they can do with it or insert it in a jam session and see where it goes.

If I'm stuck sometimes I put the guitar down, go for a walk and come back to do something with it. I have some riffs that have taken years to be used for an actual song structure. It happens...

Quote by 12wilsonh1


B ) I will often write a riff and like it, and then go off it completely within a couple of days. This happen to anyone else?

Yep, but sometimes I'll come back to those shitty riffs and try to play them differently.

Quote by 12wilsonh1

C) When I try to write, and aren't seeing my band for a while, it's hard to know if something I wrote sounds good or not. Is it safe to trust my own ear or not in these situations?

Well, you just need to back yourself man. I mean, whats the worst that can happen, your mates don't like it
No big deal, but don't take it personally.
#5
Question 1: This is something that I've struggled with myself for quite a while. I've come up with a few ways to try to get around it. Sometimes they work and sometimes not.

I tend to have a large collection of single riffs that I don't know what to do with, and occasionally when I come up with a new riff I notice that it feels like it could be in the same song as one of my older riffs. From there if they just don't sound right one after the other I'll try to write a short bridge section, or even a whole other riff to connect them together. This has worked ok for me sometimes, but other times it can sound forced.

I've also tried first starting with the riff that I like and think, "Where do I want this to go? Does it sound like an intro?" If not, then I'll try to imagine what style the part before should sound. Then I try to imagine where I want it to go from there. Should it be faster? Slower? Funky? Syncopated? Key change? I just try to imagine the general style, and then once I have a good idea I try to write the next part with all of that in mind. This can work out wonderfully, the only problem is that sometimes it can be difficult to write with so many constraints in mind, but then again, sometimes it's easier to write when you have something particular you are trying to do, as opposed to the "blank sheet of paper" feeling.

The other way I do things sometimes is think about the song strictly from a chord progression and melody point of view, and then come back through and write the "riffs" based loosely on the chord progression (I tend to start straying away from the original progression here) and add in things like rhythm and dynamics to alter the feel to suit what I want. A lot of my favorite things I've written come from this method, but I can tend to forget about things like rhythm and when I look back I realize the whole thing is straight 8th notes and sometimes turns into an overly complicated sounding mess, so then I have to go over it a third time and try to make it groove more.


I don't know how other people do it, but those are the main ways I've found to try to make things fit together and they seem to work... sometimes.
#7
Add drums and bass and other instruments you need. Just use your ears. Also, a riff on its own doesn't need to sound great. Of course you want to make the intro riff sound as good as possible. But usually the other riffs have a melody on top of them - they are not the main focus of the song all the time. So don't just write riffs, write songs.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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