Guitar - General/Writing Original Music..


Hi, I have a question..I am writing a song on guitar, and I'm trying to be as original as possible.  I did notice a couple of my riffs have some of the same notes in them, as other band's riffs.  Its probably okay, but just thought I would ask..
So, if I have a riff that has these notes..

compared to this band's riff..


Also, this riff..


compared to this one..


I hope the riffs I came up with are original enough.  I know when I listen to the whole song I wrote it does sound original enough..but, some of the riffs I use sound similar to other bands.
Not sure if I should just use the riffs anyways?
I like this song I wrote, and I really don't want to change anything.
I'm not sure how it works with guitar riffs and copyrighting?
If you can help answer this, that would be great.

So, are guitar riffs copyrighted?
Also, are guitar rhythms to riffs copyrighted?

Thank you,

Thanks for your question - it's a very good one.
First off, let me point out that I'm answering this as a guitarist and not as a lawyer.  Some of what you're asking, such as things relatign to copyright law, has a more legal slant so I'll respectfully decline to answer around that.  However, if you haven't found them already, you should find somebody in the Legal section of AllExperts who can help you.
So far as the musical side of things is concerned though...
In music there are a number of different scales, and a piece of music will generally take notes from a scale.  For example, in the key of C major, we use the C major scale, which contains the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B. If you look at a piece of music in the key of C major - and there are thousands upon thousands - then they will use notes from that scale.  You'll find the odd 'outside' note here and there to add some colour/texture, but generally you're looking at pieces of music all drawing from that relatively small pool of notes.
That being the case, it's inevitable that you'll see some similarities if you compare pieces only in terms of the notes used.  There are other aspects to how a piece is constructed, such as the phrasing of the notes, the underlying chords (which will also draw on notes from the key), etc.
This really warrants a fuller answer than I can really give here, so...I have a YouTube channel where I publish guitar/music tutorial type videos.  I think this would make an excellent subject for a video, so I may well records something with a fuller discussion about this topic.  If you're interested, keep an eye on my YouTube channel at and you may well see somethign about this over the coming weeks.
In the meantime, keep being creative and don't get too hung up about it if you see some notes in common between what you're coming up with and what you find in other pieces of music.
UPDATE - video done...

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Dave Dixon


Guitar player since 1987. Studied at Musicians` Institute. Worked as guitar/music teacher since 1991.


Since joining AllExperts I have been getting rated with 9's and 10's from most of the people I've answered questions from, so I guess that I must be doing something right. Not all that many people can be wrong. Questions about theory, technique, equipment, players, history, etc. welcome - just about anything in fact. The only things I prefer not to answer are requests for transcriptions, or equipment assessments/valuations.

Studied at Musicians` Institute.

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