#1
Hi guys, so I came up with this little riff that I would like to eventually make a song out of.
Trouble is, I only know the basics of theory and cannot really figure out any chords that sound nice behind it.
I have recognized that the notes F#, G#, E, D and C# are in it.
I am aiming for the song to be a similar style to that of the Smashing Pumpkins, in particular their song Cherub Rock.

I have uploaded a snippet of the riff onto YouTube:

Please help me find which chords would sound really nice in the rhythm section to back this riff up, and give me some tips so I don't get stuck again.

Thanks.
#2
Hi buddy, riff appears to be in Abm. I think it works better as power chords than a single line riff:

Try this as power chords:

F#m Abm x 3
D C#m

If you want to drone chords behind it try as above but keep on the Abm but don't play F#m.

As for tips, just keep on playing dude, you'll get it. If you listen to your riff, it clearly wants to resolve (or end) on Ab. From there you can see that the riff is based on a Ab blues scale (or minor pentatonic with a B5 accidental).

An Ab blues can be used in both major and minor keys, so you can try both to see what you like better.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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Last edited by AlanHB at Jan 10, 2017,
#3
i would use descending triads in the bass just judging by that clip instead of droning chords, personally

doesn't have to be r-3-5 style triads, either, just anything going downward one string at a time. not in a position to chart out what i'm hearing in my head rn but just a suggestion
modes are a social construct
#4
AlanHB, best not to mix sharps and flats without a good reason, also not sure what you want to say with Ab#m

booluk16, sounds like plain F# minor

F#m C#m (or E) F#m (or D) Bm6 C#(m)

This is one way to harmonize; there are many other ways to go

However, you might want to make the rhythm tighter
#5
How to figure out what chords will work with the riff? First of all, it makes sense to choose chords that have these notes in them. So for example when you are playing an F#, you could play any chord that has an F# in it.

To me it sounds like the riff is in F#m. Why? Because F# sounds like the tonic (and if you look at the other notes that you used, they all fit the F#m scale). Now that you know the key, just use the chords in that key. That would be the simplest solution.

I would use F#m for the first F# because it starts the progression and most of the time progressions start with the tonic chord (in the key of F#m, F#m is the tonic chord). This is of course not a rule that you need to follow and sometimes it sounds good if you don't start your progression with the tonic chord.

If we look at all of the triads in F#m that have a F# in them, they are F#m, Bm and D. But as I said, F#m would be the most obvious choice. It would also be possible to use chords that use notes outside of the F#m scale. Maybe using an F# major chord would give a more interesting sound? The F# could also be the 6th (A6 or Am6) or the 7th of the chord (for example Gmaj7, G#m7, Adim7) or some extension (9th, 11th, 13th), but that's most likely too jazzy for this style. I would probably mostly stick with basic triads.

The next measure goes like G# G# G# G# F# E. To me it sounds like in this measure G# and E belong to the same chord, so I would use a chord that has both G# and E in it. E and C#m would work. The F# doesn't get much emphasis so it's just a passing tone - not part of the chord.

Then it goes back to F#. You could use the same chord as in the beginning or you could use some other chord. If you started with a F#m, using a Bm or D here may sound a bit more interesting because it would add more color to the progression.

The last measure goes like G# G# D D C#. I would use two or three different chords here. You could of course just use an E major. G# is the 3rd, D is the 7th and C# is the 6th of the chord. As Neo suggested, Bm6 would work too because both G# and D are in that chord. If you use a Bm6, I would use a separate chord for the C#. C# major would be a good way to end the progression because it's the dominant chord of F#m and has a strong tendency to resolve to F#m. You could also use a D major chord for both the G# and D. The G# sounds a bit dissonant over that chord but I think it's fine. You could also use E major for the G#, D major or B minor for the D and C# major for the C#. A major would also work over the C#.

You could also use a descending progression like F#m | E | D#m7b5 | D C#.

These were just some suggestions. The best way to find out what works would be just trying different chords over it.


Actually, after listening to the Smashing Pumpkins song, you could just use an E major chord over most of it and D major (or maybe Asus4 instead of D major) over the D and A major over the C#. This way your song would use the same chords as the Smashing Pumpkins song. Also, this would change the key to E major. I'm actually pretty sure something like this was what you were thinking when you wrote the 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
#6
NeoMvsEu Twas a typo dude. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#7
Otherwise pretty interesting that the other guys in the thread are opting for a key of F#m rather than Abm. Goes to show that there's always a lot of different ways to harmomise a riff. Just up to you what sounds best.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
Quote by AlanHB
Otherwise pretty interesting that the other guys in the thread are opting for a key of F#m rather than Abm. Goes to show that there's always a lot of different ways to harmomise a riff. Just up to you what sounds best.

Yeah. I tried it with all power chords and I tried to emphasize the Ab and I could make it sound like Ab was the tonic. Why I heard it in F#m was because the riff starts with an F# and ends with a C# and all of the notes are diatonic to F#m. Also, it ends with G#-D-C# that goes back to F# which to me sounds like ii-V-i. But after listening to the Smashing Pumpkins song, I heard it in E major.

BTW, harmonizing a melody in different ways would be a cool idea for a composition challenge.
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
#9
^^^ Yeah it could go either way, it's really dependent on the musician's preferences.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#10
Jet Penguin, take note

Quote by MaggaraMarine
BTW, harmonizing a melody in different ways would be a cool idea for a composition challenge.
#11
On it.

Got a wild 48 hours of travel and shows in store, but if I survive I'll throw something together Saturday.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp