Make a riff - the lifeblood of any style of music.

Riffs are the wholly recognizable, completely undeniable hooks that keep you coming back to your favorite songs again and again. Indeed, a memorable riff can elevate a good song to iconic status. Music, like any art, is never a finished process. But, like so many other things in life, seemingly complicated music theory concepts aren’t so intimidating once you take the time to fully understand them.

It's always a good idea to know something about music theory. These are invaluable and often-used tools of songwriting and can be useful in adding depth to a riff. Try thinking of your music like a building. Enjoy yourself and have fun!

Creating music is a passionate endeavor. So, let's discover how to make it catchy and full of power to stay in a listener’s head forever.

Circle of fifths

In music theory, the circle of fifths (or circle of fourths) is the relationship among the 12 tones of the chromatic scale, their corresponding key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys. The circle's design is helpful in composing and harmonizing melodies, building chords, and modulating to different keys within a composition. Since the 17th century, the circle of fifths has been a prominent tool utilized by professional musicians and composers throughout Western Culture. It adds a powerful new context to the way you create and interpret music.

circle of fifth circle of fourths

The reason it’s called the circle of fifths is because of the interval relationships between each key signature. When it comes to music theory, the circle of fifths is one of the most important concepts you can learn. More specifically, it is a geometrical representation of relationships among the 12 pitch classes of the chromatic scale in pitch class space.

Once you can manipulate it in your mind, the doors are blown wide open for sophisticated songwriting. Occasionally, someone will call the circle of fifths the “circle of fourths,” because if you move around the circle counterclockwise, you will see the progression moves by fourths. However this is much less common, and most refer to fifths.

Musicians and composers use the circle of fifths to understand and describe the musical relationships among some selection of those pitches. A simple way to hear the relationship between these notes is by playing them on a piano keyboard. When traversing the circle of fifths backwards, the notes will feel as though they fall into each other. It’s a great way to find new places to push your music. Intervals are the note-to-note relationships we hear in music. Chords are simply varying combinations of intervals.

Scales

Scales sequentially outline the notes in a particular key of music and it's important to know how to use them for many reasons.

It is necessary to regularly play scales because they can act as powerful exercises that have been proven to improve rhythm, dexterity, muscle memory, and finger strength in a musician. Mastery of scales has the power to transform musicians into confident writers and improvisers with the ability to perform in any key in a variety of styles. There’s no better way to learn how to write a riff.

If you find yourself stuck or your riff sounds lifeless, try adding stylistic embellishments, such as hammer-ons, palm-muting,pinch harmonics and improvise. For inspiration click on ||