Advanced Riff Writing – Compound Intervals

By Darren DeFranco


Hey guys,

In today’s lesson we’re going to learn about a new concept, compound intervals, and how we can use them to write riffs. The basic idea here is that we’re going to take the riffs we already know, in this case minor and major thirds, but take the second note in the interval up the octave. So technically, these are 10ths. By applying these to a key, we can create some very cool riffs. Bands like The Strokes, Incubus, Green Day and others use the intervals in their own songs. You can almost think of these intervals as substitutions for normal chords in the key. Another way you can think of it is that these shapes are similar to root 5 major and minor chords minus the notes on the first, third, and fourth strings. By having more stripped down guitar parts you can really layer guitars on top of each other.

Let us know if you have any questions!


Learn the examples we showed you and try creating your own riffs using these intervals. Remember to be careful what key you are using so you know what intervals to use. Try making something in a major key as well as a minor key.


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