ccrawf11
Registered User
Join date: Sep 2011
21 IQ
#1
Alright, hey guys! I've been playing guitar for a few years now, and I consider myself to be pretty good, I practice maybe 3 hours a day etc etc. But.. I have no idea how to write. I can read tab, some staff, I don't know THAT many chords. I want to start writing my own music and stop doing covers but the internet is just filled with loads of random stuff. If anyone could throw me some step by step instructions on where to start and how to work up to actually writing that'd be great. I know writing is based off scales, but there are a countless number of them and I have no idea which ones to know, or how to use a scale to make my own riff in general. I'm mostly interested in the metal genre. I like to play in Drop D or Drop C# (Db) so people with expertise in that area would probably be best here, but I need all the help I can get. Like I said before, I am a complete noob at this, so any advice what soever. Thanks in advance :>
wandering_taco
Minstrel of Woe
Join date: Feb 2010
280 IQ
#2
I suppose the process really is different for everyone. Do you have a specific sound you'd like to create? What inspires you?

I started playing guitar specifically to write music, I started attempting before I even learned other songs. It took me a couple years of learning other music while simultaneously writing riffs to actually start structuring things.

I've been playing for almost 4 years I think now and I just wrote my first metal song like 8 months ago or so. I suppose it may have taken so long because I completely disregard the verse/chorus/verse structure. I imagine that's probably easier, so you could try laying out a structure like that and then move on to actually fleshing it out.

One thing that helped me a lot was looking at bands whose sound I really like, analyzing what they do, and using those strategies applied to things I'd already written myself, especially with harmonizing. Have you written any riffs or phrases you like in your years of playing?
dannydawiz
Danny Gomez
Join date: Aug 2011
3,503 IQ
#3
Quote by ccrawf11
If anyone could throw me some step by step instructions on where to start and how to work up to actually writing that'd be great. I know writing is based off scales, but there are a countless number of them and I have no idea which ones to know, or how to use a scale to make my own riff in general.


Music is written with your ears. When you're writing a song even if you do understand music theory you need to realize that it doesn't write the song for you. People have different writing processes and there is no formula to perfect songwriting otherwise everyone would know it. Regardless my advice to you is to listen to a lot of different music and try learning some music theory.

Writing music itself is not based off of scales. If i'm in the key of C Major i'm not gonna limit myself to 7 notes. There are 7 notes in the major scale but there are 12 notes in the octave which means that there is a possibility of 5 more notes that can be used to introduced harmonic tension.

If you decide to learn music theory I can guarantee that you will become better at narrowing down which notes to choose and as a result your songwriting will get easier. The pitch range of the guitar on a 24 fret is from an E2 to an E6. When you don't understand theory you have 48 notes to choose from. When you understand theory you have 28 notes to choose from.

Not only that but you learn the names of the sounds that you like. If you hear your favorite guitar players play a solo you will understand why you like that solo so much making it easier to pull that out from his playing and apply it to your own music. The solo might be based off of a certain scale or contain certain intervals/arpeggios that you find to be pleasing.

To top it all off it makes listening to music a lot more appealing. Nowadays when I listen to music I can tell whether the song is on the IV chord or whether its in Minor and Major and as a result you get a library of chord progressions that you like which you can pull out to use in your own songs.

In the end learning music theory and harmony will make the writing process A LOT easier.

Some guitar players like to use the guess method when writing songs. Other guitar players listen to a song that they like, pull some inspiration from that and turn it into a riff.

How you decide to write your music is completely dependent on you but it all starts with your ears. That's why listening to all kinds of music from Hip-Hop to Jazz to Death Metal is going to help you. Your creativity is limited to the sounds that you are able to recognize with your ears.
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vampirelazarus
the one with four strings
Join date: Oct 2010
88 IQ
#4
Quote by ccrawf11
I know writing is based off scales, but there are a countless number of them and I have no idea which ones to know, or how to use a scale to make my own riff in general. what soever.


Yo Crawf, I'ma let you finish, but there are only like.... two scales. Major and minor. Sure, there are variations, like harmonic and melodic minor, also the pentatonics (but for simplicities sake, we shouldn't consider them "full" scales for now.)

Learn the major and minor scales. Then learn their pentatonics.

Then learn about intervals and chord construction.

Then listen, analyze, learn.

Then write.


Or skip all that, and write.
Understand nothing, in order to learn everything.

Quote by liampje
I can write a coherent tune ... But 3/4? I play rock, not polka.
Jehannum
Bant
Join date: Feb 2011
2,440 IQ
#5
Jam on riffs or chord progressions you make up on the spot - just use pure imagination, try lots of different styles. Learn to make what comes in your head appear on the fretboard. Refine them, record them, keep them and when you've got a sizeable number go through them and see which ones could go together and what functions they could take: intro, chorus, verse, bridge. Then start putting them together. I enjoy this process.
jazz_rock_feel
UG Resident
Join date: Jun 2006
2,342 IQ
#6
Quote by dannydawiz
Music is written with your ears. When you're writing a song even if you do understand music theory you need to realize that it doesn't write the song for you. People have different writing processes and there is no formula to perfect songwriting otherwise everyone would know it. Regardless my advice to you is to listen to a lot of different music and try learning some music theory.

Writing music itself is not based off of scales. If i'm in the key of C Major i'm not gonna limit myself to 7 notes. There are 7 notes in the major scale but there are 12 notes in the octave which means that there is a possibility of 5 more notes that can be used to introduced harmonic tension.

If you decide to learn music theory I can guarantee that you will become better at narrowing down which notes to choose and as a result your songwriting will get easier. The pitch range of the guitar on a 24 fret is from an E2 to an E6. When you don't understand theory you have 48 notes to choose from. When you understand theory you have 28 notes to choose from.

Not only that but you learn the names of the sounds that you like. If you hear your favorite guitar players play a solo you will understand why you like that solo so much making it easier to pull that out from his playing and apply it to your own music. The solo might be based off of a certain scale or contain certain intervals/arpeggios that you find to be pleasing.

To top it all off it makes listening to music a lot more appealing. Nowadays when I listen to music I can tell whether the song is on the IV chord or whether its in Minor and Major and as a result you get a library of chord progressions that you like which you can pull out to use in your own songs.

In the end learning music theory and harmony will make the writing process A LOT easier.

Some guitar players like to use the guess method when writing songs. Other guitar players listen to a song that they like, pull some inspiration from that and turn it into a riff.

How you decide to write your music is completely dependent on you but it all starts with your ears. That's why listening to all kinds of music from Hip-Hop to Jazz to Death Metal is going to help you. Your creativity is limited to the sounds that you are able to recognize with your ears.

Holy shit.
z4twenny
UG's resident Psychopath
Join date: Nov 2005
936 IQ
#7
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
Holy shit.

You're as shocked as I am. A concise, articulate and meaningful post that doesn't once mention the dreaded "m" word. Kudos poster, kudos
Slashiepie
Banged
Join date: Apr 2011
492 IQ
#8
^^oh **** it!

ccrawf11
Learn Modes! lots of them! all of them!
catch em all!
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z4twenny
UG's resident Psychopath
Join date: Nov 2005
936 IQ
#9
Quote by Slashiepie
^^oh **** it!

ccrawf11
Learn Modes! lots of them! all of them!
catch em all!

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food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#10
Quote by wandering_taco
Do you have a specific sound you'd like to create? What inspires you?
This is the most important part. To really create inspired music, you have to know what you want to hear.

Have you ever listened to a song and thought, "I like this, but I would like it better if it sounded more like this..."?

That's the start of realizing your creative potential.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Nov 22, 2012,
Art Vandalay
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2011
34 IQ
#11
I like to use a drum loop played back and pick a key and start just jamming out riff ideas and melodies to get an idea. I then take that idea and work with it until I find something I really like or give up and find a new one. That's just one method though, and I'm far from a great songwriter or great musician but it has got me some neat things going.
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
3,411 IQ
#13
Try to jam it in your head first. Then you know how it will sound like on guitar and after that play it on the guitar. If you first grab the guitar, you'll end up playing the same licks, chords and riffs that everybody uses. Grabbing the guitar without having a sound in your head turns the autopilot mode on and you just play the licks you have learned. But if you can hear the sound in your head first, you may not use those licks.

Try writing a drumbeat, bassline or simple guitar riff first and start building everything over it. That's how I have made some of my songs. The first idea is very simple and on its own it won't sound that good. Actually it sounds very generic. But when you start adding more and more instruments over it, it starts sounding awesome. I have this song with only one simple bassline throughout the whole song (only E notes in octaves and the rhythm is also pretty simple).

I get inspired when I'm walking outside or doing something else than playing guitar.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#14
I agree with you, however, unless you have a good trained ear you're not going to be hearing stuff in you head that's much different from stuff that you play on guitar on 'autopilot'.
I think, TS, that you should train you're ear. If you can hear instantly in your head what the tritone sounds like, or a minor sixth, or how a Neapolitan six chord sounds in context, or how the melody sounds over the harmony, etc. then you're not going to be able to write that much new things.
Dannydawiz pretty much got the answer down; learn music theory and train your ear.

On a side note, you guys diggin' my new avatar, or is it just as stupid as that ****ing lobster boy that i had before?