The Guitar Riff as hook


One can arguably date the emergence of rock’n’roll in popular music to a point during the 50’s.  It’s perhaps not surprising that the rise of the genre coincided with the widespread availability of the electric guitar to the general public.  And not surprising that some of the most famous hooks in rock music were driven by electric guitar.  Test yourself with this sampler…


From 1958 (rock’s early days), a classic…


One of 1965’s British Invasion anthems…


Still in the sixties, still British (circa 1967)…


A little CanCon from 1973…


Jumpin’ ahead to 1980…


One more decade… a #1 from ’91.

I’m not suggesting a conspiracy or formulaic thinking… but it is interesting that almost all of these clock in at about 15 seconds (#4 and 5 double up on the intro)… suggesting that such an amount of time is needed to establish the guitar pattern (riff) which will recur during the remainder of the song.  I should add that these are only some obvious examples… and you will probably recognize them all… but, in case you don’t (or want to revisit the entire song [in live performance])…







How did you do?

Speaking of The Beatles (were we?), they (often courtesy of George Harrison) were not adverse to the odd guitar hook as well.  Recognise these?


It certainly got these girls movin’!


Although performed here post-Beatles, the song is originally found on the band’s “White Album” from 1968.


George didn’t stop the guitar hooks when he left the band.  Here is the classic from his All Things Must Pass album… (and, as a bonus, a chance to practice your Spanish)…

Speaking of hooks…

I’ve been listening quite a bit to Brian Wilson‘s No Pier Pressure (as mentioned earlier) and this song has infiltrated my little brain… but not, as yet, to my detriment (I think)… it vocally features Nate Ruess.



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