Lyrical Riffs

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Recently I was watching a BBC programme celebrating the history of the guitar riff. Apparently these are a couple of the earliest:

YouTube video

In the programme Brian May of the band Queen described the riff as being something memorable, something repetitive, a phrase which drives the song forward. That was the gist of what he said anyway. So it made me wonder, what would a lyrical riff look like. A piece of writing which featured an oft repeated line about something memorable, a line or phrase (even perhaps a word) which drove the piece forward, but perhaps developed in meaning as the piece went along. So I’m experimenting, And the following is where I have reached so far…

Contradiction Hanging On 2




Always Will

Have a go yourself if you fancy the idea. I’m grateful to author and friend Derek Wilson for replying to my first riff Today with his own powerful piece The Dying King.

He sees the sign,
The sign identifying a dying king.
He hears the jeering crowd,

The crowd laughing at the dying king.
He notes the thoughtful frown of the officer,
The officer who mutters ‘Yes, this is a dying king’.
He watches the dice-tossing other ranks,
The soldiers who don’t give a toss about the dying king.
He tells his friend to shut up,
The friend who nails his own bitterness to the cross of the dying king.
Might there just be time for a new allegiance?
‘Remember me,’ he begs the dying king.

by Derek Wilson

Peoples' Prayer


I’ll be posting a new riff up each Wednesday on my Facebook page here – Lyrical Riffs Facebook Page.

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