From Tom Morello's MasterClass

Riffs

Powerful, hard-driving riffs are the heart and soul of Tom’s musical legacy. Learn his tips for experimenting with tuning, slides, chukkas, and more, to unleash heavy, rocking riffs of your own.

Topics include: Follow Your Instrument’s Tone • Chords and Riffs: Try Returning to the “One” • Write in F# or E for Maximum Rock Power • Change the Tuning to Add Dynamism • Add Holes, Slides, or Double Picking • Experiment With Syncopation • Add Chukkas or Pauses, and Combine • Add Licks and Fills • Invert Your Favorite Riffs

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Powerful, hard-driving riffs are the heart and soul of Tom’s musical legacy. Learn his tips for experimenting with tuning, slides, chukkas, and more, to unleash heavy, rocking riffs of your own.

Topics include: Follow Your Instrument’s Tone • Chords and Riffs: Try Returning to the “One” • Write in F# or E for Maximum Rock Power • Change the Tuning to Add Dynamism • Add Holes, Slides, or Double Picking • Experiment With Syncopation • Add Chukkas or Pauses, and Combine • Add Licks and Fills • Invert Your Favorite Riffs

Tom Morello

Teaches Electric Guitar

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Preview

For me, it's that mid-tempo, heavy riff rock, which really scratches the itch in my soul. [VOCALIZING] Often the tone you're playing with can lead to a successful riff. I'll tell you this story. We were-- Rage Against Machine was practicing for a South American tour, and all of our had already gone to South America. So we were playing on rental gear, playing on somebody else's gear. We were running through our set and it sounded awful. And it didn't-- it just sounded bad. And you know, we were sort of looking at each other like, are we so dependent on the amplifiers and the guitars that we play that we can't sort of recreate that with other instruments? And it dawned on me that that wasn't the case. It's like if we had had other instruments, we would have written other music that sounded good on those instruments. And so that is one of things that always led me in my guitar playing is if you pick up an electric guitar or a bass or an acoustic guitar, it leads your riff writing in different directions. And that's something to embrace. So right now, we're going to go through those things and play. Just going to turn this on, going to concoct a riff out of thin air on the electric guitar and try one on those other instruments, as well. All right, so, let's see. Let's try one in F sharp, which is one of the most rocking of all keys, and see what we got here. [ELECTRIC GUITAR RIFF] That's a-- Something like that, a sort of off the cuff riff that occurred to me. It was the tone of this guitar that kind of led the way on that riff. Let's try another instrument. [ROCK MUSIC] So now, let's stick to the key of F sharp and see where the tone of an acoustic guitar leads us just off the cuff. [ACOUSTIC GUITAR RIFF] There is an important relationship between riffs and chords. And there's really a diversion to opinions on the topic. There's the James Brown school of thought and then there's the more harmonic, melodic school of thought. James Brown said that every instrument is a drum. And he's emphasized the one in all of his music meaning that each bar of the music comes back to the root note, the one. So on that riff that I was just playing there, this is the F sharp, which is the one. [ACOUSTIC GUITAR RIFF] We're always back to that F sharp. And it is a repetitious, funky, rhythm that becomes hard to escape. 90% of my riff writing subscribes to the James Brown theory. Now, there are many other great riffs in the world that have chord progression. For example, if we take this same F sharp rhythm and move the chords around you get a completely different feel. [ACOUSTIC GUITAR RIFF] There's the movement in the chords that lends itself to more sort of harmonic or melodic interplay, but you perhaps lose some of the tribal thump of the note returning to the one every time. The good news is you need not choose. And in your songwriting, like in mine-- for example, the Audioslave catalog was ...

Strike a Chord

Tom Morello is a two-time Grammy winner and one of Rolling Stone’s "greatest guitarists of all time." In his first online guitar class, the co-founder of Rage Against the Machine will teach you the riffs, rhythms, and solos that launched his career and sent his music to the top of the charts. Tom will share his approach to making music that challenges the status quo and teach you how to create your own musical style.

Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Very practical masterclass, Tom is very clear, direct and honest. Theoretical and practical information very useful.

Tom is one of my favorite musicians. His Masterclass really broke down some of my barriers to songwriting. He made it so human. Just record whatever sounds good when your improvising and come back to it later. You and me and Paul McCartney are songwriters.

Tom Morello is a fuckin genius and the best teacher ever. Tom Morello's Masterclass blew my mind....amazing...

Excellent. Truly appreciated Mr. Morello's info and his style and approach to the class.

Comments

Rob M.

Every minute that he shares information i feel like i am changing as a human being.

Patrick

Dude, this lesson is pure gold! Thank you very much! I never thought I'd be taking rock lessons from a communist.

Jon W.

Wow to the student who first heard the “Killing in the name of...” riff before anyone else, including the rest of the band!

Robert G.

The first time I heard this, I dug in but I have decided to master triads, then learn, and invent riffs, I constantly keep trying to match fragmented chords with riffs and scales. Then jazz it up lol. Long road for me, because I love the journey more than anything.

Michelle R.

Tom Morello is my Guitar Hero! He is the reason I started learning to play the guitar in 1993 (after I seen RATM at Lollapalooza). He's right. Once you learn how to play a song or a riff from your favorite guitar player, you feel great.....accomplished. I would go to RATM and Audioslave concerts just to hear Morello. Mind you, until recently, I was never able to stay right in front of him and watch him play because the pit was raging and I was getting crazy with everyone else. Now I see him with Prophets of Rage whenever I can and was there the last time Tom played with Audioslave (Chris Cornell singing) at the Teragram Ballroom on January 20, 2017. It was EPIC!! Small venue and Tom shredding in front of me with Chris right next to him. Absolute perfection!! The video I recorded from that night has some great closeups of Tom playing. https://youtu.be/E-mAjEWX0T4 ......And the night with Tom Morello being himself (loved the interview) at the Regent for the release of The Atlas Underground album was awesome! This lesson has inspired me to get my guitar back out (goal #1) and start playing again. Going to get my toggle on now! Happy the tabs are there too since I feel like I am starting all over again. Thanks Tom! Excited to see you at the Chris Cornell tribute in 3 days!!

Talha A.

Hi! So I’m a total noob at guitar, I actually haven’t even touched a guitar and am going to order a Yamaha Pacifica soon; so u could imagine that I didn’t understand what the hell is going on this video. Could a fellow classmate direct me toward a beginner level video where Tom breaks down the basic anatomy of a guitar? Thanks!

Mike S.

I like using my piano and piano bench as a percussion instrument between notes and if you hold down one of the strings inside the piano you can make a note sound more like a guitar. I don’t play much guitar but I still love tom’s outside the box creativity and hearing about his inspiring journey and well articulated lessons.

Rylo P.

Tom's riffs have been a major part of the soundtrack to my life (surprised I haven't killed myself listening to RATM while driving yet) and none seem to get my blood flowing as much as the heavy riff on Born Of A Broken Man. May be his hardest ever.

Jonathan S.

This is a GREAT lesson! So many ways to invent something all your own. And many of these variations apply to other types of music. For example, I wrote a song with a friend back in the 80s, and the middle section sounded just a little too familiar. The melody turned out to be from a hit song from the 60s. But by choosing a few different notes in a slightly different rhythm, we avoided plagiarism and came up with something vaguely familiar.

Michael N.

I graduated college in 1980 in Electronic music design in UK. I had a wonderful career which I gave up to care for my wife until my stroke and her death. Alone but for my 2 dogs and disabled I am buying my instruments back. My art can be found as Qcreator on soundcloud etc. documents my recovery during 7 years through 735 tracks music is my passion I write to inspire others. I am learning to read and w write and play again just wanted to check I was doing the right things it seems I am Thank you Learning to play guitar before my RA kicks in so you ideas help