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Getting the most of it while learning a riff

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by belzebass, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. belzebass


    Feb 21, 2012
    Hey ya!

    I'm a fan of learning different riffs and repetetive phrases (hey, it's often bassist's bread and butter in so many styles).
    What do you do to make the most of learning out of a single riff?

    Play in different tempos?
    Different tonalities?
    With drum machine and with metronome?

  2. For making the most out of a riff I look at it in 2 ways:
    1) Analyse the melody of the riff. See how it relates to the harmony. Look for the chord tones then see how the other non chord tones relate as melodic devices (passing notes/approach notes/neighbour notes/enclosures etc. etc.). Then try applying those melodic devices and chord tone combination in other riffs.
    2) Analyse the rhythm of the riff. Cut it down to one note so it's the rhythm in isolation then try making riffs with it by applying it to other chords, scales and stuff seen in the 1st suggestion above.

    I do this in slightly different ways with these two riffs here:
    Memphis Soul Stew:

    Ain't No Stopping Us Now:

    The analysis comes after the initial instruction on learning the riffs.
    That's how I try to make the most out of a riff.
    vishalicious and Whousedtoplay like this.
  3. BazzTard

    BazzTard Banned

    I try and figure out why those notes work,and then play the riff in different keys and tempos.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Or figure out alternate riffs by investigating nearby (or not) scale tones & chord arpeggio notes. I have a suspicion that a very high percentage of new riffs happen either as accidents playing existing ones, or while just noodling around with them like this.
  5. BazzTard

    BazzTard Banned

    you might be onto something, noodling while watching Zoolander I came up with a cool riff. Thus I called it Zoolander,explains some of the stupid song names.
  6. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Mark pretty much nails it. The only thing I'd do in addition is notate the riff I'm learning.
    This accomplishes 2 important things:
    1.) Eliminates any ambiguity in my understanding. There's no faking it with notation: you have to clearly identify each pitch and subdivision.
    2.) Improves my reading ability. Once I write it out that rhythmic pattern is essentially memorized as a new "word" in my notation vocabulary.
    vishalicious and markjsmithbass like this.

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