What is a Riff?

Riff is a short and repeated chord progression that is mostly used in pop and jazz music. It is typically used as an introduction to a song or as a refrain. It became prominent in the ’20s where it became a popular part of a musical performance in rock or jazz.

Key Takeaways

  1. A Riff is a short, melodic chord progression or refrain in music.
  2. Riffs are typically seen in jazz, rock, and pop music, where it creates the main hook of the song.
  3. Riffs are a pattern that forms the basis of a musical composition.

Understanding a Riff

The etymology of the word Riff is unknown, with some saying it means “rhythmic figure,” or “refrain.”

When a song is described as “riff-driven,” it typically means a piece of music that relies on a repeated riff as the basis for most of its melody. Riffs are often played by the rhythm section or solo instrument.

Related Terms

Comping Comping is a term typically used in jazz music, which describes the musical accompaniment of a jazz soloist. more

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