Rock Guitar Duo - Putting Lead Riffs Over Rhythm Chords

To me, the most important aspect of a rock guitar duo is its ability for both guitars to work together harmoniously. When two guitars join their patterns and movements within the music, that's when you really get sucked into the guitar tune.

So let's think about the important things when a lead guitarist works with a rhythm player. Who really leads and who really follows? Actually neither.

Of course, the rhythm guitar player has more power as to what the creation of the rock tune will be if a duo is composing a guitar tune, but more accurately, being familiar with both parts is where the real power lies.

If you're a solo songwriter and you're creating your own lead guitar riffs over your rhythms, then understanding what's going on in the music is going to be much easier obviously. Here are a few tips I came up with for creating good lead sections over your rhythms.

* Become familiar with the notes in each chord.

Knowing the name of the guitar chord itself is a good start, but taking that just a bit further can really help things heat up. Honestly, if you don't know the actual note names that make up a chord, the next best thing is knowing what those notes sound like.

It's kind of like learning a rock song by ear. You hear the notes and then you learn to compose as sort of an improvisation method. It's very powerful.

But knowing when notes are the same for a guitar duo is very helpful. You can analytical identify when notes do not belong. "Well that's why that sounds bad. That note I've been playing doesn't fit into any variation of this guitar chord."

* Recognize similarities in the chord progressions you create and play.

When you finally start learning some songs to play or you're able to write your own, you'll notice yourself gravitating to similar styles of music whether it's rock, hardcore, jazz, etc. These styles can be particularly diverse among themselves, but most of the time, you can find very similar chord progressions.

It's times like these in a rock guitar duo that having multiple lead riffs composed for one rhythm section is helpful. If you couldn't figure out how to use all of the riffs in the same song, you'll be happy to know that there's probably hundreds of other guitar tunes out there that are very similar in composition.

* Tasteful repetition can be good.

Repeating a section over and over again until the listener is dead in their ears is not a good idea for a lead guitarist. Well, it's not good for a rhythm player either.

If you have rock riff for you your duo that you know is catchy, play it enough so the listener becomes familiar, but doesn't get bored with the guitar tune. Tasteful discretion is the name of the game.

* Match the rhythms in each part at different sections.

Sometimes it can show major virtuosity for guitar players that can sync up the rhythms in the rock duo. Is there a section in the song that would really pound if both of you really locked together? Try to find something that's similar for both sections, but keeps each part separate.

* Use lead riffs when the section is lacking or can be improved upon.

Even though having a lead guitar riff over top of a rhythm section can add good depth, that doesn't mean it's necessary for every part. Focus on adding the leads where the music is lacking. If ain't broke, don't fix it.

It's great to see a guitar duo bust out some sweet rock riffs when both parts work together. Just think of what's necessary for the music tastefully and you should be on the right track.


Nomadic Matt said...

great tips! A finely tuned guitar is very important!

HonestKyle said...

Thanks Nomadic Matt! Keeping finely tuned is VERY important. Your site looks great by the way! Lots of good stuff there for guitarists.

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