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Introduction: What is a Riff?


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Rock Riffs

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In this tutorial we're going to explore one of the most important topics when it comes to rock guitar playing, which is the concept of "riffs". A riff is a reoccurring instrumental "hook" or signature instrumental part in a song. In rock it's most often played by the guitar, but it can technically be played by any instrument- it's just most common on guitar, in a rock context.

Sometimes a whole song is is inspired by the guitar riff, and sometimes the riff is constructed to fit the song afterwards. But regardless of the order it's created in, guitar riffs are a quintessential and super fun part of rock guitar playing that we're going to explore.

But before we start getting specific about what a riff is, remember that no musical terms are perfect, no matter how much energy you spend trying to define them. Because the people who make the music don't worry about what to call it; they just use some words they know to refer to the music they created! We aren't lawyers we are artists. But today, for the sake of learning, we'll try to define and demonstrate what a riff is and how to come up with them.