Last week we discussed getting music ideas from new age and ambient music. This week we’ll discuss getting ideas from symphonic music and heavy metal.
It’s hard to find two types of music that are more different from each other than heavy metal and symphonic music. But they are also similar, because both can excel at musical passages that are simple and hard to get out of your head.
Case in point is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Written around 1805, this composition starts with the famous ta-ta-ta-daa, ta-ta-ta-daa. These eight notes are part of our ordinary music knowledge, and have been used by modern groups such as the Electric Light Orchestra.
The point here is that these eight simple notes can be used as a basis for your eight-note or ten-note hook. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are memorable and that catch a person’s ear.
The same goes for heavy metal music. There have been a lot of great hooks in heavy metal for years. Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album is full of powerful hooks. For instance, the beginning of the song “Ironman” has a great guitar hook that feels like a giant metallic beast stomping across the countryside. That piece still makes me smile today.
Other heavy metal examples, of course, can be found in Led Zeppelin tunes. The song “Good Times Bad Times” starts off with a great riff from Jimmy Page that is simple and memorable.
Just because Beethoven and Page were, and are, great artists does not mean you should be intimidated. Just focus on the notes, and forget the rest of the song, and everything else. Start playing some notes on the keyboard or the guitar, and find something you like and that sounds catchy. Keep it simple. And then embellish it a little with your style and tone. Or embellish it a lot. It’s your riff!