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How To Use The Same Riff For Multiple Musical Sections

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If you are a making your own music, or you are in a band or producing other artists, you might have encountered a point in time during your writing session where you go: "Don't know what should happen next. Another new section, or back to chorus or bridge again maybe?". 

I know, I've been there, it can be frustrating not be able to continue and complete the song that went so well until you ran out of ideas. 

This is where this little trick comes in handy. 

Reuse a riff

Might sound obvious, but it works really well. For example, reuse your intro section but change everything around it. For example, take your intro riff or chord progression but make a new drumbeat for it, add some synths, maybe another melody on top. Just like that, you got a new section without having to scratch your brain for hours trying to come up with a new part. 

Let me show you some real-life suggestions where artists have done this: 

Recognise this riff? Go back to 40 seconds in and listen.

It's the exact same riff as during the verses but with a new drumbeat and some reversed guitars added. A great way to utilise the same riff to create something new.

Check this track by The Mars Volta. Here they used basically three riffs throughout 7 min. They used one riff for Intro/Verses/Post-Chorus and one riff for the Outro. Same concept of reusing a riff but changing everything around it to make it feel like a completely new section.

Another great example is after your second chorus, instead of going to a completely new bridge part before your last chorus, go back to the intro riff but make it a "breakdown" section. Again, reuse your intro part or whichever part you prefer, either if that's a riff or chord progression, and have the drums just keeping 8th notes on the hihat and some longer synth/piano chords behind. Works like a charm. 

Below you can listen to this technique being implemented.

What you will hear is one riff idea used to create three different parts with the examples described above. 

You can also use this technique to have your verses evolve throughout the song, like The Mars Volta track, rather than being the same throughout.

Hope this can spark some ideas for you songwriting sessions. 

Let me know in the comments if this technique helped you or if you have your own ideas you like to share.