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Old 01-31-2013, 05:53 PM   #1
TommyGunn9999
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How do you find inspiration?

Hello all, I am seeking advice. I am a guitarist. I have a decent understanding of music theory, a very broad taste in music, and (I personally think) a good idea of what makes a "good" song. I want to start writing my own lyrics and I am having a lot of trouble coming up with anything. I have tried thinking intently about, I've tried carrying around a notepad waiting for inspiration to just hit me....nothing. I dunno, maybe I'm just not creative. My question is, is there any advice you could give me on how to get inspiration? Any tips would be appreciated. Please, don't just say, "drugs." I will, however, welcome specific drugs as an answer. Not saying I'm going to take your advice. I just want to know what other people do for inspiration. Thanks.
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Old 01-31-2013, 06:22 PM   #2
azrael4h
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Listen to people whose singing is not understandable. Like Myles Kennedy or Axle Rose. Try to sing along. Invariably, you will sing something that has no relation whatsoever to the song you are singing along to.

Seriously, I've done that on a number of things I've written, where I would sing along, then find out later what I was singing was completely and utterly wrong. So I wrote what I was singing down in my notebooks, and some of it eventually became lyrics. Most is unreadable, because my handwriting is comparable to Axle Rose's singing.

I've also found inspiration in books. I wrote a song based loosely on the Battle for Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings. I've also written a song about the landings at Salerno, Italy during World War II, while reading a book about the Mediterranean theater (which did not include North Africa as that was the prior book in the series, and did include Sicily).

I've found inspiration watching TV, hearing words spoken that resonated with me, and at church during sermons. And I've found inspiration just having ordinary conversations.

I also come up with some stuff at work. I can't listen to music there, more because of the noise of my lathes and other machines, and thus I just "play" music mentally in my head. At times I'll come up with stuff doing that, and I'll take a second or two to write it down.

I always have a small notebook and a pen in my pocket.
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:56 PM   #3
TommyGunn9999
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Thanks azrael. Very detailed and helpful
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:26 AM   #4
ChrisBG
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Forget the drugs man. You just gotta combine being a thoughtful person with living your life. You really gotta live. You gotta meet all kinds of people, regularly, in and out of town, try new things constantly, get out of your head and then learn to get back into it at the right time. Then you'll be able to write words.

Obviously you can take ideas from TV, movies, themes, etc - but personally I find these things to be more of a useful tool when you already have things to say, and you can use outside sources to provide a little bit extra punch to your stuff.

Don't force anything, recognize the fact that songwriting is a lifelong journey and you will just keep working at it and getting better every time. The important thing is to make sure you have things to write about that actually mean something to you.

On top of all this, listen to music, always, listen to stories, talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. Read books, all kinds, watch documentaries, read poetry - you just don't know what will be your trigger. Sometimes all it takes is one little trigger, one hooky idea, one line, one phrase, one thought in your mind about somebody or something that you just can't shake, anything that will start the song. Once it's started you may just be good to go. Allow yourself to be a little fragile. Allow yourself to be raw. Read the paper every day. Talk to the man at the grocery store, the woman at the clothing store, the crazy people on the street, the girl you can't get your mind off.

Fall in love with words. Find your thing. Work out what words make you tick, the ones that make you passionate about writing and reading. Be crafty.

And then be honest. Being really really honest is hard work.

Life's short, man. Don't waste it sitting around waiting for inspiration. What's stopping you from talking to five new people today? From figuring out something new, from starting a new hobby or a thing, from getting involved in something worthwhile, from finding the things you really believe in? Don't be like everybody else. Everybody else is too busy sitting around waiting around for everybody else to do something, so that they can be like everybody else. That's boring and sick.

Anyway that's how I get inspired. Maybe it'll help.

Last edited by ChrisBG : 02-01-2013 at 08:45 AM.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:06 PM   #5
GP443
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBG
Forget the drugs man. You just gotta combine being a thoughtful person with living your life. You really gotta live. You gotta meet all kinds of people, regularly, in and out of town, try new things constantly, get out of your head and then learn to get back into it at the right time. Then you'll be able to write words.

Obviously you can take ideas from TV, movies, themes, etc - but personally I find these things to be more of a useful tool when you already have things to say, and you can use outside sources to provide a little bit extra punch to your stuff.

Don't force anything, recognize the fact that songwriting is a lifelong journey and you will just keep working at it and getting better every time. The important thing is to make sure you have things to write about that actually mean something to you.

On top of all this, listen to music, always, listen to stories, talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. Read books, all kinds, watch documentaries, read poetry - you just don't know what will be your trigger. Sometimes all it takes is one little trigger, one hooky idea, one line, one phrase, one thought in your mind about somebody or something that you just can't shake, anything that will start the song. Once it's started you may just be good to go. Allow yourself to be a little fragile. Allow yourself to be raw. Read the paper every day. Talk to the man at the grocery store, the woman at the clothing store, the crazy people on the street, the girl you can't get your mind off.

Fall in love with words. Find your thing. Work out what words make you tick, the ones that make you passionate about writing and reading. Be crafty.

And then be honest. Being really really honest is hard work.

Life's short, man. Don't waste it sitting around waiting for inspiration. What's stopping you from talking to five new people today? From figuring out something new, from starting a new hobby or a thing, from getting involved in something worthwhile, from finding the things you really believe in? Don't be like everybody else. Everybody else is too busy sitting around waiting around for everybody else to do something, so that they can be like everybody else. That's boring and sick.

Anyway that's how I get inspired. Maybe it'll help.


I like this a lot, this is great.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:54 PM   #6
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Old 03-03-2013, 09:58 PM   #7
burpo
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First off, I really am posting, not to be a dick, but to be of help.
I have never understood this question, maybe because I had an abusive childhood. I just always seem to have an ax to grind. There's always something, whether on TV, overheard at a coffee house, or something someone did that makes me want to... respond.
Maybe youre not lacking inspiration. Maybe you have a blockage that's just fear, fear of getting started. Just start. Write crap at first. You can always throw the embarrassing stuff away. Believe me, once you start pumping, the rusty water will give way to the good stuff. Good luck to you.
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Old 03-17-2013, 08:59 AM   #8
rachiepie
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I had the exact same problem when I started song writing, I had no inspiration and no clue to what I wanted to write about and it really frustrated me. However, you are new to song writing just as I once was, so you won't be great to start out with, no one is. Like anything, it takes practise. I mean no one is able to do killer riffs the first time they ever pick up the ol' guitar right? You just need to keep working at it. So please don't worry if the first few songs suck, mine were horrendous! Things that helped me were things like listening to your favourite bands, listen to the lyrics or read them. Find out what the meaning is behind their songs. Perhaps you could write something of the same topic whether it's about revenge or whatever. I sometimes watch performances by artists who I'm not even a fan of on the arts channels. I was watching Eric Clapton perform and a tune literally just popped into my head. Sometimes watching others perform can help you; give you inspiration. Don't sit down with your notepad and think,"Right, I'm gonna write a song, think of some lyrics." When you sit down and intentionally attempt to write a song, nothing pops into your head. It needs to come to you. Have a little think about it when your mind is occupied. Quite often, I will come up with a tune on guitar and then put a tune vocally with that, the lyrics don't have to come first, just think of the tune. Lyrics can come later. Lastly, sometimes it works, but just sing or hum a random tune, don't think about it just do it. You might come up with a great tune. They are things that have helped me, hopefully it will help you. Good luck!! Keep writing and don't quit
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Old 03-31-2013, 02:27 PM   #9
zach in black
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I take inspiration from random things in real life. I might be having a conversation with someone and then all of a sudden someone says something interesting. For example, one time I was talking with my dad and he said "if living was easy, everyone would do it" Take an idea you hear and think more about it. Your opinions, and hopes. Another example, one day I had an outside gig when the weather on my friends iphone said it would rain. I said "I hope it doesn't rain today, because if it does I would have to say that the weatherman was right," and then this came from it
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Old 04-09-2013, 09:36 PM   #10
ccannon1
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I usually either listen to music that really inspires me to write (namely that of Neutral Milk Hotel and Death Cab for Cutie) or listen to/read interviews of artists hoping to find something that'll help me. A concept I found that really helps me is Jack White's concept of minimalism, where he only focuses on 3 things at a time (look at his entire career... you'll see that the guy is just obsessed with the number 3)
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:33 PM   #11
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See my recent post on my approach, which does not start with lyrics, exactly because I think I'd feel as lost as you seem to be, because there's no real emotional context for what you are trying to come up with. Your looking at a piece of paper with endless possibilities. Love song? Hate song? State of the world song? Angst song? Ironic song? Buddy song? Too much possibility gives me writers block.

So, instead, I noodle until I find a chord progression (If I'm noodling chords) or a riff (if I'm noodling notes) that I think is really cool and, hopefully, does not sound identical to any songs I know (so I'm not plagiarizing). Then I play it over and over. And if it's chords, you can start vocalizing "da-da-da" whatever nonsense syllables over it. Don't worry, they'll fall into a melody and will help focus the emotional feel of the song. At some point, for me, some words just seem to fit and I replace the "da-da-da" with them.

When I look back at what i've come up with -- a chord progression with a melody and lyrics -- I find that all of it, and the emotions / tension -- resonate with something in my own life. So really this process brings out of me something I had inside that I wanted to express, but I came out with it without any real struggle, just noodling till things fell into place.

I also tend to find that what I come up with is somewhat related to whatever type of music I've been studying / learning / playing. Not plagiarized, per se, but my own version of that style of music. Like an evolution of music.

As one example, I was playing that song "Love Potion Number 9" a whole lot the last few months. For some reason, when I did not feel like playing anything else, I'd just play that. I played around with varying the speed, varying chords, making it a bit more like a Deep House rap, etc. One day, I was then just noodling on guitar and found a riff I really liked and that riff started a song that really went somewhere cool.

Later, I realized my first melodic line to the song was very similar to the melody of the LAST line of "love potion number 9". Like I took off from there and then saw where the song could have gone to if it did not end on that melodic line but, instead, started there. And that particular riff is not identical, timing is a bit varied, so I don't know that everyone would say , "Hey that's Love Potion No. 9!" if they heard it, but I can be honest with myself -- I'm sure that's where I got it from.

But, as a lawyer with some knowledge of copyright infringement, I'm pretty confident my song has enough originality to not be found to infringe just because part of one riff is similar to another song.

Which is a long-winded way of saying that playing / learning covers does help you come up with your own material. I've know musicians who tried to avoid this because they feared they would inevitably -- and perhaps subconsciously -- plagiarize if they spent too much time on other people's stuff. But, to me, this misses the point that all music is an evolution. The Beatles songs were not truly original, but were simple evolutions of rhythm n' blues stuff or earlier rock (sometimes with actually very little evolution going on) but they made it their own with their stylistic tweaks. That's musc, that's originality. Trying to be 100% original, in my mind, would lead to 100% crap because you are trying to reinvent the wheel. I think you do much better standing on the shoulders of prior musical giants and accepting that in your musical creations, you will be subconsciously (and perhaps sometimes consciously) borrowing from, and building on, other people's great music that resonates with some part of you.

I mean, just google "Stairway to Heaven" and Plagiarism to see how that song itself was a product of this kind of evolution, and was by no means a truly original creation.

Ken
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Old 04-21-2013, 09:21 PM   #12
Luke James
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I find that inspiration is everywhere, and probably one of the best places I know to find inspiration is inside myself. Einstein once said that in order to find the formula E=mc2, he had to "go into the dark place where God resides" (not an exact quote). Apparently he, and many other great geniuses, used to take naps when pondering a difficult problem which required a lot of creativity and inspired thinking, but not quite go into a deep sleep. A sort of altered state of consciousness some have called "deep resolve". I use meditation to go into that space in myself which Einstein described. It's actually incredible how much inspiration comes flooding when I do!
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Old 04-28-2013, 07:04 PM   #13
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This is a broad one, it's cliche but often inspiration will come when you aren't looking for it. I'd recommend jotting any idle ideas you get while you're out and about down. So often has a weird observation in real life managed to slot perfectly into some lyrics I'm writing. I suppose it depends on if you're writing observational lyrics but it can really help. Other times when I'm waiting on a bench to meet someone or on the bus I will pick a person out at random and read their clothes and body language and make up a story for them, this can sometimes develop into lyrics.

All media outlets can give inspiration, tv, movies, games, books, other lyrics etc. Sometimes I will try to write a song parallel to another song I really like using similar themes and tones. Obviously differentiating and staying original but sometimes just skirting along an already existing song can get you going.

Also when it comes down to actually writing lyrics don't be so precious, while there's nothing wrong with putting a lot of effort into lyrics sometimes just writing them in 5 minutes or scrawling something down when you're drunk can work really well. Sometimes inspiration comes out of thin air and I can write lyrics very quickly, not all lyrics have to have deep meanings and be allegories and have references and things. Sometimes simple, minimalistic lyrics will work.
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Old 05-03-2013, 09:44 PM   #14
FistOfMichallin
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Alright.

Pay close attention, and read this slow.

You're looking into a computer screen, something that can't, and won't look back at you. Inspiration.

You're reading these words, and hopefully rereading it a couple of times, in an attempt to make something out of it. You're in need of help. Inspiration.

You know when it's cold and you get that piercing, cold feeling in your eyes? Inspiration.

Replace the word, 'inspiration', with 'intuition'. With intuition, everything becomes a song, or invokes a feeling, or brings back a memory.

Inspiration is a cold hearted bitch that ****s you hard and good but never sticks around for a cuddle, let alone say bye, as if you were nothing.

Intuition, is warm, man. She's got a pair of eyes, looking back at you, waiting to be welcomed, because you noticed her. She caught your attention, and you made her yours, ensuring she sticks around. You just take from eachother, which is giving at the same time, in a sense.

Follow your intuition.

Last edited by FistOfMichallin : 05-03-2013 at 09:46 PM.
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