Key Stage 3 Learning Zone

 

Riffs

A riff is a short piece of music which repeats over and over. Often these are deliberately designed to be “catchy” or interesting to the ear. In Classical music they often refer to “ostinato”. Ostinato is basically just another word for riff. Riffs have been used over many years in all types of music:

 

Smoke on the Water, by Deep Purple, is possibly the all-time classic Rock Riff

 

Satisfaction, by The Rolling Stones, has a riff many people have heard

 

Superstition by Stevie Wonder, has another famous riff

 

here is a jazz piece – by Miles Davis -  “So What”

 

The whole of the Lungi Dance from Chennai Express seems to be riffs

 

Listen to how Carl Orff uses ostinato in Carmina Burana

 

To play Smoke on the Water

 you need the middle two strings on your guitar (D and G):

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---0--------3-----5---------0-------3--------6-------5----------0------3-----5--------3------0--------------------------------

---0--------3-----5---------0-------3--------6-------5----------0------3-----5--------3------0--------------------------------

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Here’s Satisfaction:

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--------2-2---2-4--5-------5-5----4----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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Why not make up your own riff? -  You could start by mixing up some of the notes from the famous riffs so you can use them for your own evil purposes:) Remember to make it funky with short, detached notes (staccato) rather than long notes....

 

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