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#2491672 - 05/08/13 04:41 PM "Riffin"
Fred_C Offline
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Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 934
Loc: PA
Hi Gents,

A very long time ago, I was taught that a "Riff" was "a repeated phrase or idea". However, it would appear that many players define "riff" as just about any improvised line. In the TV listings I recently saw a summary of a stand-up comic's routine stated this way, "XYZ comic riffs on topics A, B, and C."

How do you guys define the term?
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#2491676 - 05/08/13 05:02 PM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Fred_C]
Scott Fraser Offline
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Registered: 03/20/05
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Loc: Los Angeles
A preset phrase used as a building block for a solo.
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#2491709 - 05/08/13 07:11 PM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Scott Fraser]
Dannyalcatraz Offline
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When comedians use it, its a completely different term of art, like "stab" as used by a think tank vs. how its used by an assassin...
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#2491718 - 05/08/13 07:42 PM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Dannyalcatraz]
Terrell Offline
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Registered: 07/28/08
Posts: 1722
Loc: Austin, TX
Pretty close to what I say: Webster

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#2491734 - 05/08/13 09:59 PM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Terrell]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 5350
Loc: Hwy 49, California
Lodi, Pretty Woman, Johnny B. Goode, Secret Agent Man, Day Tripper, Memphis, Night Train, I Feel Good, My Girl, Green Onions, Hot Rod Lincoln, Here Comes the Sun, Brown Eyed Girl, Louie Louie, Satisfaction, Light My Fire, Sunshine of Your Love, Hard Days Night (I can name that song in one chord), etc. These identifiable riffs can also be called a hook or an intro. If you're my age you know what's coming in the 1st few bars of these songs...sometimes it continues all through the song like on Night Train and some times it comes and goes like on Brown Eyed Girl...that's what it means to an old rock and roller like me. cool


Edited by Larryz (05/08/13 10:01 PM)

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#2491760 - 05/09/13 03:15 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Larryz]
Bottom End Offline
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Registered: 05/27/08
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Loc: VA
+1
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#2491804 - 05/09/13 06:36 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Bottom End]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1889
Loc: Inside the Beltway
FWIW, I remember a very old Rolling Stone review of the Mahavishnu Orchestra's Between Nothingness And Eternity where they described McLaughlin as a master of "riff-based" music. I took it to meant that McLaughlin's music was built around repeating, and evolving, musical phrases, rather than repeating chord progressions.

I've also heard it used in the context of comedy, or spoken word performance, as in someone "riffing" on a topic, or idea. It could be said that the movie The Aristocrats shows a series of comics, all riffing on the same joke.

Here's another one. Any other old guys remember when rapping did not mean rhyming over canned beats?


Edited by Winston Psmith (05/09/13 06:36 AM)
Edit Reason: sp.
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#2491834 - 05/09/13 08:19 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Winston Psmith]
whitefang Offline
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I do. I also remember when "rip off" referred to a fraud rather than any form of theft.

I also go along with Larry and Winston's definition of "riff".
Whitefang
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#2491845 - 05/09/13 08:32 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Winston Psmith]
Fred_C Offline
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Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 934
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
built around repeating, and evolving, musical phrases, rather than repeating chord progressions.


Hey Winston,

So, it would appear that your understanding of the word is similar to mine (a repeated phrase or idea) and judging from Larry's list of riff based songs, his definition is pretty close to mine as well.
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#2491865 - 05/09/13 09:11 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Winston Psmith]
Larryz Offline
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Registered: 06/23/08
Posts: 5350
Loc: Hwy 49, California
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith


Here's another one. Any other old guys remember when rapping did not mean rhyming over canned beats?


Oh yeah, I remember when rapping was getting together for an extended conversation with four buddies over a case of beer. And, a case meant 24 in those days... cool

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#2491871 - 05/09/13 09:23 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Larryz]
desertbluesman Offline
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Registered: 05/22/07
Posts: 2816
Loc: Near Phoenix Az
Riffing (to me) is just an improvised or rehearsed instrumental solo. Which is mostly what I do on guitar these days.

And as for rap they forgot to add the "C" in front of the word rap.
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#2491879 - 05/09/13 09:36 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: desertbluesman]
Fred_C Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 06/12/10
Posts: 934
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: desertbluesman

And as for rap they forgot to add the "C" in front of the word rap.


Hey DBM,

FUNNY!! laugh
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#2491884 - 05/09/13 09:53 AM Re: "Riffin" [Re: Fred_C]
Winston Psmith Offline
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Registered: 02/15/10
Posts: 1889
Loc: Inside the Beltway
Originally Posted By: Fred_C
Originally Posted By: Winston Psmith
built around repeating, and evolving, musical phrases, rather than repeating chord progressions.


Hey Winston,

So, it would appear that your understanding of the word is similar to mine (a repeated phrase or idea) and judging from Larry's list of riff based songs, his definition is pretty close to mine as well.


Pretty much. While there are certainly riffs in many forms of music - Blues riffs, for example - I still think of Blues music as built around chord progressions, rather than riffs & turnarounds.
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