Creating Inspired Heavy Metal Riffs

Every metal song should have an element of an awesome guitar riff. When you crank up the volume, it is usually not the solo that stands out that makes you want to crank that volume up. That’s why we whipped up this metal rhythm guitar guide to give you tips and insights as to how you can produce your own raging riffs.

Think about the ominous melody of “Enter Sandman” by Metallica; Hammet, the band’s guitar player, made use of an inspired moment to create a riff as a foundation to one of the most popular songs in heavy metal. The chugging sound made rise to roiling monsters bringing the sound of terror in the night.

Like any other stylistic analysis, we start to examine the patterns, chord progressions, motifs, and other factors of music and organize the combination of these elements into a method. Metal music usually makes use of power chords from the perfect fourth to the fifth interval. The partial or single-note chord riffs, stuttering rhythms, and dramatic moments are executed with arpeggiated chordal combinations.

When Blues And Rock And Roll Form Metal

The musical scoring of metal riffs originate in the blues scale because of the formula root-b3-4-b5-5-b7 is parallel to the fourth or fifth intervals, which are used as the main ingredient for power chords. Think of the A blues scale and try it in fifths.

You can also try “boxed patterns of fourths” starting in the fifth scale. You can reorder five-note patterns to create 120 permutations (1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5)—24 when you start them on the fourth. This works with all keys, so you have a lot of raw materials to play around with.

You can also try to deconstruct an existing riff and literally play them inversely in a backward pattern. An example should be utilizing fourths by transposing them a whole step. Take a look at the example below:

Transforming the chord progression utilizing fourths down one whole step (G5-Bb5-Db5-C5) will look like this:

Deconstruction will work on any single-note riff. One example could be the F# Aeolian minor like the one here:

Applying arpeggio on a metal song produces a tender sound for a metal ballad and also makes a beautiful rendition combining it to an up-tempo metal song. The clean tone arpeggios should create the introspective illusion brings us to the Am-G-Em-Dm/F filigrees illustrated below:

Process all these and play with the new, combined music. These are tips, so you can start riffing off that guitar to metal mayhem.

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