Chuck Schuldiner Project

Friday, December 3, 2010

2 riff theory

The 2 Riffs and a Verse Theory and Song Writing guess.
This is just something I have noticed lately in my attempts at writing music. I have found that really for anything I write I really only need 2 riffs to base the song on. You need a lead riff and a chorus riff, sometimes you only need 1 riff which you can use for both the intro and the chorus in songs like Highway to Hell and Rock you Like a Hurricane to name 2 of my favorite 1 riff songs, Then the verse can be a couple nice power chord or a bit based off the lead riff. I think this is really interesting and has made everything I do in trying to compose music a lot easier. The simple realization that 2 riffs are all that you need to write a decent rock song is very liberating. You can write a lot of really good, practical to write songs that are pretty heavy just using a 2 riff method. Below I will detail how to write a good 2 riff song.
There is no shortage of 2 riff songs, Paranoid, NIB, The Ocean, Houses of the Holy, Today and most AC/DC, just to name a few good tracks. A lot of the worlds best bands seem to use this general idea to set up their songs. This is a method that you really can't question when you go through and look at the tabs of the songs you can see that a lot of the songs use similar bits repeated and it can be brought into 2 riffs and a verse bit. Oftentimes like in in the Smashing Pumpkins Today which uses the intro in a non-distorted way to establish the verse. Seriously just go and take a hard look at a lot of hard tabs and you will find only a couple of true riffs that drive the guitar parts of the entire track. Trust me, take a look.
So to write a good song you have to come up with 2 riffs to get started. These riffs should relate to each other, preferably being close to each other on the fretboard or based around the same scale. Sometimes you can change the notes into powerchords or move it around the fretboard to make it sound better. Thats really all you have to do. It sounds hard at first but some fiddling around the fretboard ends up giving surprisingly good results. I recommend fiddling with repeating notes rather than just single not scales. Its a lot easier to write a riff that way. Think about classic riffs like The ocean and NIB they are based off scales but focus on repetition which is what makes the song sound awesome.
Here is a little step by step thingamabob
  1. Fiddle with various scales.
  2. Consider converting them to powerchords to add better depth.
  3. Fiddle with repetition.
  4. Find one good riff to base the song on.
  5. Find a lesser riff to do the chorus with.
  6. Figure out a verse bit that can be easily based off the primary riff of the song. (see Today by the Smashing Pumpkins for inspiration.)
  7. Put them together in a good order.
  8. Make a band to play your song with.

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