How to Write a Riff That Bounces – Music Theory from Bring Me The Horizon “wonderful life” (Amo)

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If your music isn’t getting people moving, then learn how to write guitar riffs, synth riffs and bass lines that bounce, as heard in “wonderful life” by Bring Me The Horizon (from upcoming album “Amo”).
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In their new single “wonderful life” that just dropped this week, Bring Me The Horizon deliver a masterclass in how to make your music (and therefore your audience) bounce! They even manage to get “bounce” in their lyrics, with the line: “everybody knows I got bounce”. But first, what is “bounce”, and how’s it gonna get the party started? Quite simply, when a song has bounce, it makes you wanna bounce. In other words, it makes you wanna jump up and down. How? Well, there are numerous ways, but in this song, Bring Me The Horizon lock in their riff and kick drum, which both play dotted 1/8 notes that bounce over the 1/4 note pulse.

Step 1 – Bounce Notes
Set up four bars of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/16 notes, and your tempo set to 86.5 BPM. The main riff in “wonderful life” is based around a low F and the F an octave higher, so we’ll do something kinda similar. Start by playing three dotted 1/8 notes on that low F. A dotted 1/8 note is equal to three 1/16 notes. Also, if you want, you can extend that last note by a 1/16 (like it is in the original). Right, now these three notes are your bounce notes, so copy and paste them into the other bars, so every bar bounces! Next, it’s time to bring in some higher notes to add depth to your riff, so add a few 1/16 notes at the end of each bar. We chose the ♭2, 7, 4, and ♭5 as the basis for ours. And if you want, you can add a little variation to these high notes in your third bar, and maybe even extend that 1/16 note run over the bar line and into your fourth bar, like we did. Lastly, if you’re playing this on a real guitar, throw in a little bend on the bounce notes.

Step 2 – Surprise Party
This step is so cool! Let me explain. Bring Me The Horizon know that this bounce will get boring if they keep repeating it, so they throw in one totally unexpected bounce, which is like a surprise party! So, in your second bar, move all (or some, we like did) of those higher notes to the left, by one 1/16 note. Then, extend the first note in your third bar to the left, by one 1/16 note. This creates the most exhilarating surprise bounce on beat 4a, which nobody will be expecting, so it keeps your party super fresh!

Hack Music Theory is the pioneering notation-free method for making great music that stands out, so you can get discovered! Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé (and wife) Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series “Hack Music Theory”, and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who’s been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, the “Hack Music Theory” YouTube channel teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).


(c) 2018 Revolution Harmony
All music in video by Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony

Photo of Oli Sykes (Bring Me The Horizon) courtesy of Emma Viola Lilja –


ReiMusicOfficial says:

You guys have really helped me out of a two year writers block, I'm releasing a new ep this year based heavily on the stuff you guys teach on this channel, couldn't have done it without you! Much love x

John Anderson says:

Music Theory + Tea = Bouncy Riff

TheOrangepeak says:

Ah great trick, it can also be applied to synthesizer, such a 303 of some sort for example :p I often do acid line like that ^^ cheers to you two, sorry I've been busy lately but I still love your channel <3<3<3 🙂 🙂 🙂 have a nice evening, don't eat to much candy 🙂 🙂 🙂 !!

Daniel Clarke says:

Everybody knows I got bounce

Over hand says:

awesome stuff

Papke says:

What software are you guys using?

Viktor Shvets says:

Here is the Bounce count. Ray – 8 Bounces, Kate – 8 Bounces, Ray and Kate in unison – 2 bounces. Thanks for another great boun.. i mean hack!


Thanks guys, really great!

Muhammadreza Haghiri says:

I think the new generation of YouTube comments would be "But doesn't bounce?", specially on metal guitar videos. I'm a metalcore fan myself, and guess what, BMTH is one my favs and I really loved your video about their track (And you actually made me go and listen to their Amo album!).
I heard something like this in other groove metal/metalcore bands works. I think Lamb of God and Bullet For My Valentine also did something similar.

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