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How to Compose Your Own Prog-Rock Riffs

Shhhhhh… What you’re about to learn is not only a secret that seasoned prog-rockers don’t want you to know, it’s also privileged information. So don’t go blabbing about how you’ve now become an all-knowing progressive-rock god.

Prog-rock is probably the most intimidating style of music to write and play, mainly due to the technical prowess it demands. On top of that, however, the uncommon elements that make up an effective prog-rock riff can be difficult to master all at once.

I mentioned a secret, though, and that secret will let you navigate the grid of prog to create your own unique music that would make John Petrucci look down upon you and smile.

The secret lies in the polar opposite of what progressive music represents: simplicity. By forming your riffs from the simplest point, you’re able to construct the most devastating, powerful prog-rock riffs from the ground up, using your guitar like a mad scientist’s collection of lab beakers and your mind like the chemicals that fill those beakers.

Mixing and matching various techniques while embellishing certain aspects of your riff will be much easier through a step-by-step approach, rather than trying to compose a prog-rock riff all at once. It’s hard enough to play this music when it’s already composed, let alone try and hear the insanity in your head before it’s made it to your guitar strings. The video below will take you through the process of starting from scratch to erect a towering, titanic progressive rock riff. Just make sure to keep these new tactics a secret!

Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric website Music is Win. His entertaining guitar-related content receives hundreds of thousands of video views on Facebook per month, and his online guitar courses tout more than 1,500 students with a cumulative 4.7 rating on Udemy. Get in touch with Tyler on Facebook, watch more of his guitar lessons and vlogs on YouTube, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.