Recently i've been more confident in the progressions I choose for my songs, but the guitar arrangements are still very uninspired. I am particularly bad at creating cool arpeggios or riffs that enhance a section of a song rather than just going along for the ride.
An example of a band that has truly magical guitar lines are The Strokes, and I was hoping you could help me investigate their methods for creating really powerful accompaniments to the chords being strummed on the other guitar (two guitar set-up).
I will first share the reference material (time-stamped for convenience), and then I will think out loud a bit so that you can see why I am experiencing this writer's block.
Automatic Stop, chorus
Bad Decisions, breakdown
The End Has No End, verse
Would you consider these riffs countermelodies to the vocal melody? Do you think the melodic skeleton is selected first and then filled in with various tones?
Or are these simply arpeggios with non-chord tones added for interest?
Speaking of non-chord tones (passing tones and neighbor tones), are these always on the "off" beat? Most of these cases are played in eight notes, so what is considered the "off" beat anyway?
Is syncopation and rhythmic independence importance to these riffs? The "Automatic Stop" rhythm is particularly elegant. Also, in "The End Has No End", the way the 7th note ascends to the 8th note in the series the first few times but then the 8th descends to the 7th note in the series is just pure magic. Is there a name for this effect? It gives the riff this sort of circular, infinite motion, and very good closure at it's completion.
Somehow there is a good amount of tension in these lines . . . is that tension created by the riffs themselves and related to the relationship between the notes horizontally (dissonant intervals(?)), or is that tension built into the chord progression already?
Maybe I have poor instincts, but the arpeggio patterns I conjure up are super boring. Are there any composers who are particularly good at this who I could study? All I can think of is Bach's 1 5 3 5 1 5 3 5 . . . . whenever I google "arpeggio patterns", the results are just piano warm up exercises.
Please let me know if I am simply lacking imagination or if I am looking in the wrong spot or approaching this incorrectly. I feel as though I am quite scrambled for something that seems relatively mathematic/formulaic at the end of the day, and I could really use this tool to elevate my songs.
Thank you as always.