How To Develop Musical Ideas To Create Dynamic Guitar Riffs

Tommaso Zillio

riff development

How many times have you come up with a great riff on your guitar, but the only thing you were able to do in order to "continue the song" was to simply repeat the same riff endlessly? Can you hear how great guitar players use the riffs in their song to "take the song somewhere" rather than just repeating them over and over? How do they do that?

It's a very common situation for beginning composers to write a GREAT riff... but then not be able to use it. And you can hear it: there are too many songs out there that simply repeat the same thing over and over... and over.

We should be able to do better than that.

If this happened to you, there is a very precise reason why you are not able to write the rest of the song: nobody taught you how to "think about" and "manipulate" your riff so that you can use it to create music. So of course the only resource you are left with is to simply repeat what you have.

Knowledge alone is not worth anything if you don't know how to apply it. Even if you are one of the few people who were actually taught these techniques, I bet you have never seen someone apply these techniques in real time.

But don't worry, you are about to see it. In the video below I show a student some basic techniques and then help apply them to develop one of his ideas into an interesting riff that can be used in a song. The tricks and systems I use here can be applied to YOUR songs too:

Can you hear how the final riffs are "taking the song somewhere"? And see how many options are possible? Now that you have seen it done once you are already able to apply this to YOUR riffs and ideas. Happy songwriting!

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