#1
Hoi,

Just wondering, do guitarists like Joe Satriani come up with new riffs every 30 seconds or do they just have so much "material" to use? Like, some songs are messy as f and at times somewhat "random". For example Satch Boogie. The song doesn't sound like an inspiration, it's just something out of air. It is not bad but it sounds messy. You actually start to think if this guy is OK (mentally) or not if he gets an inspiration and the result is something Satch Boogie. (If you understood what I meant)

Another question. Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover is a nice song. I'm wondering whether he's one of those guys who make everything in a row (A->B->C). Also meaning that they don't have to try dozens of different riffs to make " the perfect verse". All that shredding in CoD every now and then sounds good and fits perfectly. A great guitarist and musician. But where does that all come from?
Last edited by Billie_J at Dec 20, 2015,
#2
i think ej said he wrote CoD in a few minutes, it just appeared out of nowhere for him.

Dunno about satch boogie.
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#3
Ideas just come to people, sometimes they are perfect, sometimes they need additional work.

I've had the pleasure to talk to EJ before, and he very much works on ideas. But he is also a very avid improviser, and i think both approaches are necessary. He will discover the "core" of an idea from jamming/improvising/just hearing it in his head, sometimes it is the perfect thing, sometimes it needs work. Then once he has a part he might hear in his head where the part is going, and comes up with the next. I know some tunes just came to him (CoD), others where born over time from improvisation (Trademark).

Good music come out if you've put good stuff in, that is why i was taught while in school to learn to sing the solos/melodies/basslines/guide tones to tunes i was listening to/learning. Because in addition to having a grasp of the fretboard and a good grasp of music theory, you need good ears and a creative mind. And a creative mind is often the result of someone that has internalized a lot of music. I probably have atleast 10 jazzblues solos i could sing straight from memory, just given a I7 chord, and i know where to find them on my instrument, and how to alter the vocabulary from them to sound different. So if i am to play over a blues, i have a lot of material to work with. Similarly, JS and EJ have absorbed a lot of the music they love, and they can probably bring out a lot of ideas because of that.
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#5
Satch Boogie is IMO one of the best Satriani songs. Not messy at all. So no, I don't really understand what you mean. Or are you asking whether Satriani heard that song in his head as a whole at once? You need to ask Satriani. We can't really answer that. It is possible, but it is also possible that he first came up with the intro riff or the tapping part or the guitar solo part or whatever. Or maybe he first came up with a feeling and then wrote music to fit that feeling.

But yeah, usually musical ideas just come to you. Many times they are inspired by a song/artist. And sometimes you just play one note or chord and start hearing stuff in your head.

There is no secret formula to write a great song. You need to start with an idea and you need to come up with that idea. Some songs need a lot of work, some songs just kind of write themselves.
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#6
The more music you've listened to - and especially the more music you've actually played - the more ideas you will have for new music.
That's because it all goes into your brain and slops around for a while (years usually), re-mixing, cross-fertilising... and then suddenly something cool will belch up out of it. That's called "inspiration".
(Unfortunately the metaphor works for shit too.... )
#7
"Cliffs of Dover" was worked out over quite a long period of time but there was an initial bit of inspiration.
From a Guitar World interview:
“I don’t even know if I can take credit for writing ‘Cliffs of Dover,’ ” says Eric Johnson of his best-known composition. “It was just there for me one day. There are songs I have spent months writing, and I literally wrote this one in five minutes. The melody was there in one minute and the other parts came together in another four. I think a lot of the stuff just comes through us like that. It’s kind of a gift from a higher place that all of us are eligible for. We just have to listen for it and be available to receive it.”

While it is true that he wrote the song in a blessed instant, the fact is that Johnson, a notoriously slow worker, took his time polishing it up to form. “It took me a while to achieve the facility to play it right,” he says. “I was trying to work out the fingerings and how I wanted particular notes to hang over other notes.”

Even allowing for Johnson’s perfectionism, it took an extraordinarily long time for him to record a song that “came to him” in five minutes. That epiphany occurred in 1982, and within two years “Cliffs of Dover” was a popular staple of his live shows. He planned to include the song on his solo debut, Tones (Capitol, 1986), but, ironically, it didn’t make the cut. “It was ousted by the people who were doing the record with me,” Johnson explains. “I think they thought the melody was too straight or something.”

He noted that he used two guitars on the song. Mostly it's a Strat but in middle he switches to his Gibson ES-335. Once you know that you can hear the difference @ 2:45 then back to the Strat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiRn3Zlw3Rw
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Last edited by Rickholly74 at Dec 21, 2015,
#8
Quote by Billie_J
Hoi,

Just wondering, do guitarists like Joe Satriani come up with new riffs every 30 seconds or do they just have so much "material" to use? Like, some songs are messy as f and at times somewhat "random". For example Satch Boogie. The song doesn't sound like an inspiration, it's just something out of air. It is not bad but it sounds messy. You actually start to think if this guy is OK (mentally) or not if he gets an inspiration and the result is something Satch Boogie. (If you understood what I meant)

Another question. Eric Johnson's Cliffs of Dover is a nice song. I'm wondering whether he's one of those guys who make everything in a row (A->B->C). Also meaning that they don't have to try dozens of different riffs to make " the perfect verse". All that shredding in CoD every now and then sounds good and fits perfectly. A great guitarist and musician. But where does that all come from?


1) Satch Boogie is great riff - It's actually very specifically worked out and quite complex if you actually look at it closely. It's certainly not just doodling. Even his solos on that album, Surfing with the Alien, are worked out pretty specifically.

2) Eric Johnson, at that time, was insanely meticulous and would have worked out every note to perfection - he lets loose and improvises a lot more now.

If you learn a few Satch and Eric Johnson tunes you'll get to see their approaches. They have a way of approaching things that keep coming back.

Satriani can probably come up with a riff every 30 seconds. He's written so many different types of riffs over the years - he's a monster when it comes to the creative side of guitar.
#9
Writing riffs and songs is a skill that needs to be practiced just like scales and picking. As you develop the skill, the material comes to faster
#10
I haven't heard anything I like from Satriani so I don't think any of his stuff is inspired he is just shit...
inspiration comes in a number of ways, a riff can pop in your head, you might hear something and wonder how it would be backwards, you can just improvise and listen to what your playing and then an idea pops in, a lot of times it comes from something you want to express, a feeling that you have and your playing will be in accordance with what your feeling, cuz in a way if I was sad I couldn't write a happy riff. I would throw it away even if it was good unless just listening to it made me happier..
I find that listening to the same song over and over inspires many riffs based on that one song..
But to come up with a good number of inspired riffs solos w/e you need to have good musical ability wich is hard to explain but can be kind of like having artistic sense where you know wich things sound good and you try to get there..
yeah but satriani is shit
Last edited by João1993 at Dec 23, 2015,
#11
Quote by bassalloverthe
Writing riffs and songs is a skill that needs to be practiced just like scales and picking. As you develop the skill, the material comes to faster


kind of.. I think that knowing theory like scales and the chord keys would help you structure things a lot faster but it doesn't do anything for creativity..
it's about the creative spark that is hard to explain.. if it was a mere practice we would expect Jimmy Page still writting the best riffs ever
#12
^ I don't know... The reason why Jimmy Page may not write that great riffs today is because he doesn't have to. He may not have the motivation to write Led Zeppelin style songs any more. When you have done the same style for many years, it may kind of lose its spark. It doesn't feel that exciting any more.

Jimmy doesn't need to write new riffs any more because people only want to hear his old riffs. And he doesn't even need to play them. I'm pretty sure people listening to his albums is more than enough for his bank account.

Jimmy has also been part of other kind of projects. Maybe after you have done eight rock'n'roll albums, you may want to start experimenting with something different. Well, there are bands that keep on doing the same style, but usually people still want to mostly hear stuff from their early albums. Maybe your style gets old or kind of "predictable" after many albums.


The more you know about music, the more ideas you will have. Well, you will also become more self critical.


And about Satriani sucking... Well, that's like your opinion, man.
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#13
And just to avoid a misunderstanding, I like Satriani and he definitely does not suck. But Satch Boogie is still messy, not that it sounds bad but just really doesn't have any specific riff going. At least it's not that transparent. It's hard to describe how I feel about the song but I do listen to JS and never have I hated the guy.
#14
You're just not used to that type of writing. It's well-constructed, even for people who don't like it.
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#15
Yes, it doesn't really have a riff in it, but it doesn't have to. I just don't see how it's messy. It's just fast. The transitions don't sound weird or anything. Structure-wise it's not complex.

The guitar is playing the main melody all the time. I would say it's a pretty typical "solo guitar" piece.


Not every song needs to have a repeating 2 or 4 bar riff.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#16
Quote by Billie_J
And just to avoid a misunderstanding, I like Satriani and he definitely does not suck. But Satch Boogie is still messy, not that it sounds bad but just really doesn't have any specific riff going. At least it's not that transparent. It's hard to describe how I feel about the song but I do listen to JS and never have I hated the guy.


I think you're just misunderstanding the form and style of the song. There's a main riff that is clearly worked out and which cycles an older style jazz/blues chord progression. Once that intro is over, the rest of the tune is a basically a solo over various backing sections with a bridge tapping section. The intro riff is the "head" or "theme" and the rest is soloing - much like a jazz tune.
#17
Quote by Billie_J
And just to avoid a misunderstanding, I like Satriani and he definitely does not suck. But Satch Boogie is still messy, not that it sounds bad but just really doesn't have any specific riff going. At least it's not that transparent. It's hard to describe how I feel about the song but I do listen to JS and never have I hated the guy.

You're finding that the structure of the song isn't to your liking. It's one riff accompanied by a bunch of solos. It's not for everyone.
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