A riff is a repeated chord progression or refrain in music also known as an ostinato figure in classical music ; it is a pattern, or melody , often played by the rhythm section instruments or solo instrument, that forms the basis or accompaniment of a musical composition. Riffs can be as simple as a tenor saxophone honking a simple, catchy rhythmic figure, or as complex as the riff-based variations in the head arrangements played by the Count Basie Orchestra. David Brackett defines riffs as "short melodic phrases ," while Richard Middleton  defines them as "short rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic figures repeated to form a structural framework". Rikky Rooksby states, "A riff is a short, repeated, memorable musical phrase, often pitched low on the guitar, which focuses much of the energy and excitement of a rock song. Use of the term has extended to comedy , where riffing means the verbal exploration of a particular subject, thus moving the meaning away from the original jazz sense of a repeated figure that a soloist improvises over, to instead indicate the improvisation itself—improvising on a melody or progression as one would improvise on a subject by extending a singular thought, idea or inspiration into a bit , or routine. The term riff entered musical slang in the s Rooksby, ibid, p.
Category:Guitar-Licks - Wikimedia Commons
Those things are all over the internet being at our disposal. But what are they really? The term is most often used by rock and blues musicians who play the guitar. Licks in rock and roll are often used through a formula, and variations technique in which variants of simple, stock ideas are blended and developed during the solo. In a jazz band, a lick may be performed during an improvised solo, either during an accompanied solo chorus or during an unaccompanied solo break.
File:The Lick on electric guitar (E minor).ogg
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It only takes a minute to sign up. Connect and share knowledge within a single location that is structured and easy to search. The Wikipedia page for lick is somewhat confusing-- what do you think? A riff is thematic. It serves as the main musical idea for a section of a song.