Suppose you are someone who loves to experience the mesmerizing sound of a guitar and has a bunch of guitar lovers around you. You might have come across them complimenting someone’s guitar performance saying something like, “He played a brilliant guitar riff.” Of course, you might have skipped the term riff. But a deep insight into the world of such terms is essential if you are planning to polish your guitar skills or are a newbie.
Now that you’ve decided to ace the guitar game. You’ll start looking out from store to store to buy the perfect guitar to start with. Then, you’ll skim through some famous riffs to test it. But wait. Hang in there. There’s an even more important term you should know before you lay your hands on this musical instrument.
There’s a possibility that you’ve not heard about forbidden riffs. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be a pro at explaining this term after you read this article. So, this article will revolve around the question: what is the forbidden riff?
Let’s break down these two words and understand their meanings individually.
What Is The Meaning Of Forbidden?
Forbidden means prohibited or not allowed, especially by law or rule. Understanding it with the help of an example, we can say taking pictures inside the museum is forbidden.
We’ve mentioned the word riff about 5 times, which cements its significance. But to make the picture crystal clear, let’s look at its meaning.
What Is A Riff?
A riff is a repeated short melodic phrase or refrain. It is usually associated with jazz, blues, and rock music.
Combining the meanings of these two terms, that’s what we get. ‘A short melodic phrase which is prohibited.’ So, what exactly is the forbidden riff? It is a song that is strictly forbidden or prohibited to play in guitar stores worldwide.
Why Are Some Riffs Forbidden?
While testing a guitar at a guitar store, a large chunk of people plays the same riff repeatedly. They do it because of the popularity of these riffs, or it’s an act to boast their guitar skills. Some people believe these riffs are forbidden owing to their poor quality.
But that’s precisely not the case. These riffs are forbidden because they are overplayed in music stores around the globe. It hurts to say, but the storekeepers were so done with hearing it round the clock that they decided to put a full stop.
The most popular forbidden riff is Deep Purple’s Smoke on The Water, aired in 1972. It’s etched on the hearts and souls of all guitar lovers.
Another such forbidden riff is Stairway to Heaven from the album Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin, which was aired in 1971. It is considered to be the most successful riff of all time. But these are not the only riffs that are forbidden. There’s a whole list. Let’s take a look at some of them.
List of forbidden riffs
- Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
- Wonderwall by Oasis
- Back in Black by AC/DC
- Nothing Else Matters by Metallica
- Seven Nations Army by The White Stripes
- Smoke on The Water by Deep Purple
- Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses
- Enter Sandman by Metallica
- Iron Man by Black Sabbath
- Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana
You may not be allowed to take your chances with these riffs at a guitar store. But you can set the stage on fire by playing these riffs at a party, competition or you can satiate your heart’s mood that is dying to dance on Stairway to Heaven. Just play it out!
Here’s the catch! If you ever happen to play any of the forbidden riffs in a music store, nobody is going to hand you over to the police. So, there’s nothing to panic about.
These riffs were not forbidden from day one. Instead, something must’ve triggered the need to do so. And that’s why it becomes significant to unravel the story behind why we are here today talking about the forbidden riff. So, here’s the story behind it.
When Did The Concept Of Forbidden Riffs Come Into The Picture?
It all started with Wayne’s World, which came out in 1992. There’s a dialogue that goes something like, “There was a whole spiel about Stairway To Heaven containing messages from Satan if played backwards, but we won’t get into that.” This dialogue somehow led to the implementation of the idea of forbidden riffs. This dialogue resulted from people arguing that if Stairway to Heaven is played backwards, it contains Satan’s references.
The term forbidden riff is usually associated with Stairway to Heaven. So, whenever you say “forbidden riff”, someone will shout and say “Stairway to Heaven.” But as discussed earlier, it’s not the only forbidden riff.
Though these forbidden riffs can teleport people into the world of magic, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other riffs that you can play at a music store to create a soothing sound. Here are 5 such out-of-the-world riffs that are very popular and are not forbidden by God’s grace.
Famous riffs that people play while trying out a guitar
- Sunshine of Your Love by Cream
- I wanna be Your Dog by The Stooges
- You Got Me by The Kinks
- Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin
- This Charming Man by The Smiths
We’re sure that playing these riffs will not turn the storekeeper’s eyebrows into a knot. If you play it right, it will make them happy instead.
The guitar is the most loved musical instrument amongst people from all age groups. And why not? The magical sounds that come to life from the strings of a guitar make people forget the world. And the journey begins with buying the right guitar or changing it as per the need. But, while trying it out, don’t play the forbidden riffs, which was the topic of today’s article. So what is the forbidden riff?
We’ve discussed the list of forbidden riffs and why these riffs are forbidden. Finally, we’ve shared 5 famous riffs that you can produce while trying out a guitar towards the end of the article. Have an incredible journey, future guitarist!
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