#1
First post ever...patience would be appreciated.

I will do my best to be as direct with this as possible... but I feel the need to explain some things in detail so that anyone reading has a firm understanding of where I am coming from with this. Here goes:

I can play guitar, bass, drums, piano, trombone...the list goes on. I started playing piano when I was 6 years old, and it was pretty much my lifeblood. Trombone shortly followed after, and it turns out that in the past 15 years, the only instruments that I can honestly say that I was profficient on were the trombone and the piano, as I took lessons in both and played both regularly.

HOWEVER...I never put in a ton of practice... Tons of potential, not so much drive. If I had practiced nearly as much as I should have or could have...who knows where I could have gone.

A key part of all of this is this:

I have extensive theory training. I was always involved in theory competitions, tests, and studies of the like. I took an AP music theory class in high school, and got a 5 out of a possible 5 in that test. Theory is NOT an issue for me.

I have been hacking at the guitar for about 5 years now, with no instruction or teaching...but I am farrrrr from a guitarist.

I have very eclectic taste in music, and it has evolved significantly over the years. These days my taste is defined by music that challenges my intellect on a regular basis. The music that moves me is primarily found in the jazz or metal genres (i.e. Pat Metheny,Mike Stern...and bands like Periphery, After the Burial, Animals As Leaders, BTBAM, Veil of Maya).

I can analyze and breakdown all the theoretical and technical elements of the aformentioned artists... but I just can't write anything even close to any of them, let alone play their material.

It boggles my mind that some of these virtuosic musicians are self taught, and know little to nothing about theory. In essence, they could write what they do, I could analyze everything they're playing, and explain it to them...and they would have no idea what I am talking about theoretically speaking.

I want to write what I like listening to...and I have the potential to do it. How do I make the whole writing process easier on myself? What do I need to practice to make it so that I can write/play the things that I want to? Can anyone relate?
#3
I'm probably not someone you should take advice from when it somes to theory cause I'm just like those people. I can make up cool songs but I don't understand any theory at all and I've been playing 5 years.

I'm sure this is probably not good advice, but what I would do is just forget about the theory when writing. Just think of a riff in your mind and play it over and over until you have it exactly as you imagined it.
#4
id say one of your main problems is just not enough practice and your trying to sound like someone else
just find some stuff you can practice and go nuts with it eventually you'll get there
#6
Quote by guitarocker100
I'm probably not someone you should take advice from when it somes to theory cause I'm just like those people. I can make up cool songs but I don't understand any theory at all and I've been playing 5 years.

I'm sure this is probably not good advice, but what I would do is just forget about the theory when writing. Just think of a riff in your mind and play it over and over until you have it exactly as you imagined it.

I've noticed that I write better when I just use my ears. I can analyze it later.
#7
I know theory, and I can write music a lot like my favorite bands, Kamelot, Nevermore, Dream Theater, etc......but the trick is....you analyze the music....so say they are playing A minor and B Diminished, take those progressions, and kinda mix them up and use that kind of idea in your own key and change the sequence of notes....just to get started. Learn some of your favorite songs, learn different styles, and just get used to how everything works.
#8
Quote by guitarocker100
I'm probably not someone you should take advice from when it somes to theory cause I'm just like those people. I can make up cool songs but I don't understand any theory at all and I've been playing 5 years.

I'm sure this is probably not good advice, but what I would do is just forget about the theory when writing. Just think of a riff in your mind and play it over and over until you have it exactly as you imagined it.

My problems are: 1) I don't hear riffs, or melodies in my mind...I hear styles. So all I am left with, is what I want my composition to sound like, and then I am stuck. 2) Im stuck because what I want my composition to sound like, im not physically capable of performing.

...But if I am striving to attain my own musical voice, than wouldn't technical ability be put on the back-burner?

And in regards to originality...here's a whopper:

One's taste can only be defined by influences. So if you want to sound like "X", than it's because you've heard "X" somewhere else. So what you want to sound like is primarily defined by what you like, that's already been written. How then, do you take what you like from what is already written, and turn it into your own?

Example:
If I LOVE (which I do), the opening run in the song Alaska (BTBAM)...and I know that I want all the elements of that run, or atleast the feeling that it gives the listener, to be incorporated in a song I am writing, (short of just copying and pasting) what's the next step?
#9
unless you have perfect pitch, you're limiting the good that theory can do you if you don't train your ear.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#10
Quote by AeolianWolf
unless you have perfect pitch, you're limiting the good that theory can do you if you don't train your ear.

expanddd....please....
#11
Quote by jrdegaetano
expanddd....please....


well, it's all well and good if you can tell me what a perfect authentic cadence is, but if you can't hear it in your head, it'll be that much harder to apply it to your composition. of course this is a simpler example, but this applies to all musical concepts. if you can listen to a piece and tell when it modulates from F major to Eb major, then you're geared to use similar techniques in your composition.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#12
Quote by AeolianWolf
well, it's all well and good if you can tell me what a perfect authentic cadence is, but if you can't hear it in your head, it'll be that much harder to apply it to your composition. of course this is a simpler example, but this applies to all musical concepts. if you can listen to a piece and tell when it modulates from F major to Eb major, then you're geared to use similar techniques in your composition.

BINGO!

Breaking down and simplifying why what I am hearing appeals to me in theoretical terms?

Right path?

The difference between knowing what an authentic cadence is, and knowing it, the second you hear it, among other things.

So listen, but REALLY listen?
#13
Quote by jrdegaetano
BINGO!

Breaking down and simplifying why what I am hearing appeals to me in theoretical terms?

Right path?

The difference between knowing what an authentic cadence is, and knowing it, the second you hear it, among other things.

So listen, but REALLY listen?


correct.

also, develop your relative pitch. that falls in with your "REALLY listen" idea. instead of listening to the notes, listen to the relationships between the notes. if you see the words "authentic cadence" and you can hear it in your head, then you really know the concept.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#14
You can have all the theory knowledge in the world, perfect pitch, strong relative pitch etc. but that doesn't mean that you will be able to write great music.

Writing music is like everything else, it requires practice. All the above can help you write music but the key is practice.

As for playing music, it sounds like you just need to get more technically proficient. Maybe getting a teacher would help you focus your practice?
#15
It's worth you watching the How Music Works series

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnbOWi6f_IM

It's probably covering a lot of old ground for you but it'll probably shed new light on some things which you should find useful.
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#16
If you need to do some aural work then I recommend getting a copy of EarMaster
#17
Quote by 12345abcd3
You can have all the theory knowledge in the world, perfect pitch, strong relative pitch etc. but that doesn't mean that you will be able to write great music.

Writing music is like everything else, it requires practice. All the above can help you write music but the key is practice.
This.

I don't know the intro you're talking about that you would like to use. But if you can analyze the piece of music then you will be able to isolate and identify the particular aspects of that piece of music that create the effect you enjoy hearing. So what are they? What specifically is it about that piece of music that works so well and that excites you so much?

Music theory has many uses one of which is that it is a tool for abstracting the underlying musical concept so that you can experiment with applying it in different contexts.

The contrary motion of the intro to stairway to heaven for example is awesome. The way the first simultaneous notes of each bar are the upper most and lower most voices of the arpeggiated chord played harmonically and if you map those notes out you see the upper voice moves up in a scalar fasion over the first three bars while the lower most voice moves down chromatically.

You can isolate this single idea and start applying it in different ways simply by playing with the idea of having the upper voice move in one direction and the lower voice move in the opposite direction. When you first start doing this you might find it difficult to get away from Stairway because you're so used to it but as you keep messing around with the idea you start to become more original with it.

Similarly the idea of a moving bass line over a static harmony is a very common concept that one might have pulled from any number of songs and applied in their own way.

Now sylistic sound - you say you hear a style rather than a melody or chord structure - is often a matter of combining the right sound, tone, or timbre with the right common characteristics to achieve a style similar to what you enjoy. A solidly written song (the underlying melody and chord structure) will be able to cross those borders with ease and still sound good. Perhaps you are better suited to the production side of things?

But of course if you have the innate desire and unrelenting drive to write songs then write them and as 12345abc3 said, practice writing music and you will get better at it.

And by the way if you can identify those elements in the intro you mentioned feel free to write them down and share your insights for discussion with others. It may be that your analysis is too broad or too narrow scope or in some other way missing something that might get picked up by a second brain. Or someone might have another way of applying some of those ideas that gets your creative juices flowing in the right direction.

Best of Luck
Si