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Albert Bolshakov
Albert Bolshakov

Learn How to Play Riffs, Licks and Fills Around Any Chord Shape in Beyond Rhythm Guitar


Beyond Rhythm Guitar: Riffs, Licks and Fills: Build Riffs, Fills and Solos




Introduction




If you are a guitar player who wants to go beyond strumming chords and playing simple rhythm patterns, you might be interested in learning how to play riffs, licks and fills. These are essential elements of guitar playing that can add variety, interest and excitement to your music. They can also help you develop your skills, creativity and musical vocabulary.




Beyond Rhythm Guitar: Riffs, Licks and Fills: Build Riffs, Fills



But what are riffs, licks and fills exactly? How are they different from each other? And how can you learn and practice them effectively?


In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will explain what riffs, licks and fills are, why they are important for guitar playing, and how to create your own. We will also give you some examples of famous riffs, licks and fills from various genres and styles of music. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of these concepts and how to apply them to your own guitar playing.


Riffs




What is a riff?




A riff is a short musical idea that is repeated throughout a song or a section of a song. It usually consists of a few notes or chords that form the main theme or hook of the song. A riff can be played by any instrument, but it is especially common in guitar music.


A riff can be melodic or rhythmic, simple or complex, catchy or obscure. It can be played on its own or with other instruments. It can be used as an introduction, a verse, a chorus, a bridge or an outro. It can also be varied or modified throughout the song to create contrast or development.


How to create your own riffs?




Creating your own riffs can be fun and rewarding. It can also help you improve your musical skills, such as ear training, theory, technique and improvisation. Here are some tips on how to create your own riffs:


Use scales and chords




One of the easiest ways to create a riff is to use the notes from a scale or a chord that fits the key and mood of the song. For example, if you are playing in the key of A minor, you can use the notes from the A minor pentatonic scale or the A minor chord to build your riff. You can also mix different scales or chords together to create more interesting sounds.


Use repetition and variation




A good riff should be memorable and catchy, but not boring or predictable. To achieve this, you can use repetition and variation. Repetition means playing the same or similar idea more than once, while variation means changing or adding something to the idea. For example, you can repeat the same notes or chords, but change the rhythm, the order, the octave, the dynamics or the articulation. You can also add or remove notes or chords, or use different techniques, such as slides, bends, hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc.


Use rhythm and dynamics




Rhythm and dynamics are very important for creating a riff that grooves and stands out. Rhythm means the pattern of beats and accents that you play, while dynamics means the volume and intensity that you play with. For example, you can use different rhythms, such as straight, swing, shuffle, syncopated, etc., to create different feels and moods. You can also use different dynamics, such as loud, soft, crescendo, decrescendo, etc., to create contrast and emphasis.


Examples of famous riffs




There are many famous riffs in guitar music that you can learn from and get inspired by. Here are some examples of famous riffs from different genres and styles of music:


Genre Song Artist Riff --- --- --- --- Rock Smoke on the Water Deep Purple A simple but iconic riff that uses the notes from the G minor pentatonic scale over a power chord progression. Blues Crossroads Cream A classic blues riff that uses the notes from the A minor pentatonic scale with some chromatic passing tones over a 12-bar blues progression. Metal Iron Man Black Sabbath A heavy and ominous riff that uses the notes from the E minor pentatonic scale with some tritones over a power chord progression. Funk Superstition Stevie Wonder A funky and catchy riff that uses the notes from the E minor pentatonic scale with some syncopation over a clavinet groove. Pop Beat It Michael Jackson A catchy and melodic riff that uses the notes from the E minor pentatonic scale with some bends over a synth bass line. Licks




What is a lick?




A lick is a short musical phrase that is usually played as part of a solo or an improvisation. It usually consists of a few notes that form a melodic or harmonic idea. A lick can be played by any instrument, but it is especially common in guitar music.


A lick can be based on a scale, a chord, a mode, an arpeggio or any other musical concept. It can be played on its own or with other licks. It can be used as a filler, a transition, a climax or an ending. It can also be varied or modified throughout the solo or improvisation to create contrast or development.


How to create your own licks?




Creating your own licks can be fun and rewarding. It can also help you improve your musical skills, such as ear training, theory, technique and improvisation. Here are some tips on how to create your own licks:


Use motifs and phrases




One of the easiest ways to create a lick is to use a motif or a phrase that fits the key and mood of the song. A motif is a short musical idea that can be repeated or developed throughout the lick. A phrase is a longer musical idea that can be divided into smaller motifs. For example, if you are playing in the key of C major, you can use a motif or a phrase that uses the notes from the C major scale or any of its modes.


Use bends, slides and hammer-ons




A good lick should be expressive and smooth, but not dull or stiff. To achieve this, you can use bends, slides and hammer-ons. Bends mean raising or lowering the pitch of a note by pushing or pulling the string with your finger. Slides mean moving from one note to another by sliding your finger along the string without lifting it off. Hammer-ons mean playing two notes in succession by plucking one note and then quickly pressing another note with your finger without plucking it again.


Use chromatic notes and passing tones




part of the key or scale that you are playing in. For example, if you are playing in the key of C major, you can use chromatic notes such as Bb, Eb or F# to create tension or interest. You can also use passing tones such as D#, E# or A# to smooth out the transitions between notes.


Examples of famous licks




There are many famous licks in guitar music that you can learn from and get inspired by. Here are some examples of famous licks from different genres and styles of music:


Genre Song Artist Lick --- --- --- --- Rock Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin A melodic and expressive lick that uses the notes from the A minor pentatonic scale with some bends and slides over a descending chord progression. Blues The Thrill is Gone B.B. King A bluesy and soulful lick that uses the notes from the B minor pentatonic scale with some bends and vibrato over a 12-bar blues progression. Metal Master of Puppets Metallica A fast and aggressive lick that uses the notes from the E minor harmonic scale with some hammer-ons and pull-offs over a palm-muted power chord riff. Jazz Autumn Leaves Wes Montgomery A smooth and sophisticated lick that uses the notes from the G major scale with some chromatic passing tones and arpeggios over a ii-V-I progression. Country Folsom Prison Blues Johnny Cash A twangy and catchy lick that uses the notes from the E major pentatonic scale with some bends and slides over a train beat rhythm. Fills




What is a fill?




A fill is a short musical phrase that is usually played between the main parts of a song or a section of a song. It usually consists of a few notes or chords that form a rhythmic or harmonic idea. A fill can be played by any instrument, but it is especially common in guitar music.


A fill can be used to create variety, interest and excitement in a song. It can also be used to signal a change, such as a new verse, chorus, bridge or outro. It can also be used to fill in the gaps or silences in a song.


How to create your own fills?




Creating your own fills can be fun and rewarding. It can also help you improve your musical skills, such as ear training, theory, technique and improvisation. Here are some tips on how to create your own fills:


Use arpeggios and triads




One of the easiest ways to create a fill is to use arpeggios and triads that fit the key and mood of the song. An arpeggio is a broken chord that is played one note at a time. A triad is a three-note chord that consists of the root, third and fifth of a scale. For example, if you are playing in the key of G major, you can use arpeggios and triads that use the notes from the G major scale or any of its modes.


Use syncopation and anticipation




A good fill should be rhythmic and groovy, but not boring or predictable. To achieve this, you can use syncopation and anticipation. Syncopation means playing off-beat or accenting weak beats instead of strong beats. Anticipation means playing ahead of the beat or resolving to a note before it is expected. For example, you can use syncopation by playing on the eighth notes or sixteenth notes instead of the quarter notes or half notes. You can also use anticipation by playing a note before it changes in the chord progression.


Use call and response and contrast




A good fill should be musical and coherent, but not random or disconnected. To achieve this, you can use call and response and contrast. Call and response means playing two musical phrases that answer each other or complement each other. Contrast means playing two musical phrases that differ from each other or oppose each other. For example, you can use call and response by playing a phrase that echoes or repeats what was played before or after it. You can also use contrast by playing a phrase that changes or contrasts what was played before or after it.


Examples of famous fills




There are many famous fills in guitar music that you can learn from and get inspired by. Here are some examples of famous fills from different genres and styles of music:


Genre Song Artist Fill --- --- --- --- Rock Back in Black AC/DC A simple but effective fill that uses the notes from the E major pentatonic scale with some bends and slides over a power chord riff. Blues Pride and Joy Stevie Ray Vaughan A complex and flashy fill that uses the notes from the E major blues scale with some bends, slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs and double stops over a shuffle rhythm. Metal Enter Sandman Metallica A heavy and sinister fill that uses the notes from the E minor pentatonic scale with some tritones and palm muting over a power chord riff. Jazz Blue Bossa Joe Pass A smooth and elegant fill that uses the notes from the C minor scale with some chromatic passing tones and arpeggios over a bossa nova rhythm. Country I Walk the Line Johnny Cash A twangy and catchy fill that uses the notes from the A major pentatonic scale with some bends and slides over a train beat rhythm. Solos




What is a solo?




A solo is a musical section that features one instrument or voice playing alone or with minimal accompaniment. It usually consists of several notes or chords that form a melodic or harmonic idea. A solo can be played by any instrument or voice, but it is especially common in guitar music.


A solo can be composed or improvised, simple or complex, short or long, slow or fast. It can be played as a standalone piece or as part of a song. It can be used to showcase the skill, creativity and expression of the performer. It can also be used to create contrast, interest and excitement in a song.


How to create your own solos?




Creating your own solos can be fun and rewarding. It can also help you improve your musical skills, such as ear training, theory, technique and improvisation. Here are some tips on how to create your own solos:


Use riffs, licks and fills as building blocks




One of the easiest ways to create a solo is to use riffs, licks and fills as building blocks. You can combine them together to form longer and more complex musical phrases. You can also modify them to suit the key, mood and style of the song. For example, you can use a riff as a main theme, a lick as a variation, and a fill as a transition.


Use melody and harmony




A good solo should be melodic and harmonic, but not boring or monotonous. To achieve this, you can use melody and harmony. Melody means the main tune or line that you play, while harmony means the chords or notes that support or accompany it. For example, you can use melody by playing notes that match or contrast the vocal melody or the chord progression. You can also use harmony by playing notes that outline or imply the chord tones or extensions.


Use structure and form




A good solo should be structured and coherent, but not random or disconnected. To achieve this, you can use structure and form. Structure means the overall shape or layout of your solo, while form means the smaller sections or parts that make up your solo. For example, you can use structure by having a beginning, a middle and an end to your solo. You can also use form by having an introduction, a development and a conclusion to your solo.


Examples of famous solos




There are many famous solos in guitar music that you can learn from and get inspired by. Here are some examples of famous solos from different genres and styles of music:


Genre Song Artist Solo --- --- --- --- Rock Hotel California Eagles A melodic and harmonic solo that uses the notes from the B minor scale with some bends and slides over a complex chord progression. Blues Texas Flood Stevie Ray Vaughan A bluesy and expressive solo that uses the notes from the G minor blues scale with some bends, vibrato and double stops over a 12-bar blues progression. Metal Crazy Train Ozzy Osbourne A fast and technical solo that uses the notes from the F# minor harmonic scale with some hammer-ons, pull-offs and tapping over a power chord riff. arpeggios over a jazz standard progression. Country The Devil Went Down to Georgia Charlie Daniels Band A twangy and catchy solo that uses the notes from the D major pentatonic scale with some bends and slides over a fiddle duel. Conclusion




In this article, we have learned what riffs, licks and fills are, why they are important for guitar playing, and how to create your own. We have also seen some examples of famous riffs, licks and fills from various genres and styles of music.


Riffs, licks and fills are essential elements of guitar playing that can add variety, interest and excitement to your music. They can also help you develop your skills, creativity and musical vocabulary. By learning and practicing them, you can go beyond rhythm guitar and become a more versatile and expressive guitar player.


We hope you have enjoyed this article and found it useful. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them with us. And if you want to learn more about guitar playing, please check out our other articles and resources.


FAQs




Here are some frequently asked questions about riffs, licks and fills:


What is the difference between a riff and a lick?




A riff is a short musical idea that is repeated throughout a song or a section of a song. A lick is a short musical phrase that is usually played as part of a solo or an improvisation. A riff can be played by any instrument, but it is especially common in guitar music. A lick can be played by any instrument, but it is especially common in guitar music.


What is the difference between a lick and a fill?




A lick is a short musical phrase that is usually played as part of a solo or an improvisation. A fill is a short musical phrase that is usually played between the main parts of a song or a section of a song. A lick can be based on any musical concept, such as a scale, a chord, a mode, an arpeggio or anything else. A fill can be based on any musical concept, such as an arpeggio, a triad, a syncopation or anything else.


What is the difference between a fill and a solo?




A fill is a short musical phrase that is usually played between the main parts of a song or a section of a song. A solo is a musical section that features one instrument or voice playing alone or with minimal accompaniment. A fill can be used to create variety, interest and excitement in a song. A solo can be used to showcase the skill, creativity and expression of the performer.


How do I know when to play riffs, licks and fills?




There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on many factors, such as the genre, style, mood and structure of the song, the key, tempo and chord progression of the song, the role and preference of the guitar player, and the taste and expectation of the audience. However, here are some general guidelines that might help you:



  • Play riffs when you want to establish or reinforce the main theme or hook of the song.



  • Play licks when you want to add some variation or embellishment to your solo or improvisation.



  • Play fills when you want to fill in the gaps or silences in the song or signal a change in the song.



How do I practice riffs, licks and fills?




There are many ways to practice riffs, licks and fills, but here are some suggestions that might help you:



  • Learn from your favorite songs and guitar players. Listen to their riffs, licks and fills carefully and try to figure out how they play them. Then try to play them yourself by ear or by using tabs or notation.



  • Create your own riffs, licks and fills. Use your imagination and creativity to come up with your own musical ideas. Then try to play them on your guitar by using your ear or by writing them down.



licks and fills that fit the music.


  • Practice with other musicians or friends. Use other musicians or friends to jam with or play songs with. Try to play different riffs, licks and fills that complement or contrast their playing.



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