#1
Hello there fellow UGers, I haven't posted for a long time but something is really bothering me.

As I have been moving further in the world of music theory, analyzing more music, learning new theory and just getting a bigger understanding of music I have just noticed that almost all music is the same. It has become almost impossible for me to create music, that sounds original but that still pleases my ears. I either create something that sounds good BUT has already been done before which gives me no satisfaction. Or I create something that is so complex that I kind of like it, but no one in my band does, which doesn't give me a lot of satisfaction either. This is all making songwriting a bit boring.

I was hoping that some of you guys could help me with this by either:
Helping myself appreciate my not-so original writings.
or
Helping me to create music that is original and appeals to people.


Then there's something else that's bottering me, the balance for a band between new things and repetition, most bands have some repetition with which you can ussually recognize that band (for example, Iron Maiden doing the same chorus everytime). What are your opinions on this? For example I have noticed with my own band that about 80% of our choruses start with a i-VI. I try to move away from this but somehow it just keeps returning like it's a part of our band.
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#2
i dont know i have this same problem all the music i write has a guitar in it
#3
If you want to sound more original,experiment.Make alternate tunings,I wrote something after taking A 1/2 step down,use capo to make chord progressions sound different,use other instruments in your songwritting instead of only guitar,and add basslines,try mandolin or banjo (it's not so hard to learn after playing guitar for some time).Now I don't know what kind of music you're into,you obviously can't use banjo in say,death metal but I used it as an example.This problem of yours isn't really a theory-related problem.
#4
I could try that but that isn't really what I mean. The problem is that whenever I write a progression that I like hearing and i have a look at it, it'll be like a progression that I've already done or that I've already done something similar to. We play metal in my band, I have tried using some different instruments, like adding keyboard to songs or adding violin. I also exeperiment sometimes with writing some electronic music, but this also leads to the same problem.
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#5
Well yeah,the same standard tuning,typical playing doesn't have much to do any more.
The thing is,do whatever crazy thing pops in your head,use whammy or fuzz effects or whatever effects you find handy,drop tunings.Instead of having influences from other metal bands take different genres,older styles and incorporate them into your music.Muse is influenced by classical music,John 5 uses country picking,you know,stuff like that.And,imo,try to keep it simple,not complex.
#6
If The Acacia Strain's continuing catalog tells you anything, you can be pretty unoriginal and your fans won't notice. That being said, I suffer the same problem as you sometimes. Are you a vocalist by chance? I find that I don't really get satisfaction from half of the guitar tunes I write until I come up with a righteous melody to sing with it. Have you tried that?
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#7
Not really into The Acacias Strain, I'll check 'em out but there are more bands that do it. Almost all bands I love are pretty much doing the same thing everything, but for me it just doesn't seem right. I sometimes feel like I shouldn't have analyzed all the songs and stuff so I just though my own stuff was original. But yeah I do have to agree with you on that derekgray, I'm not a vocalist but when I start fiddling with vocals alongside my songs it ussually takes direction easier, like I know what atmospheres to go for etc. I should try that more often, thanks Derek.

But how do you all look at bands that do it. Like Iron Maiden for example, I mean I love them, but I question myself, are they just not noticing that they do the same thing every time, or do they just leave it like that because that is their sound?


Also, some nice music on the Island Sun myspace, you singing? Sounds nice, wish I could sing xD.
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#8
Quote by pinguinpanic
Hello there fellow UGers, I haven't posted for a long time but something is really bothering me.

As I have been moving further in the world of music theory, analyzing more music, learning new theory and just getting a bigger understanding of music I have just noticed that almost all music is the same. It has become almost impossible for me to create music, that sounds original but that still pleases my ears. I either create something that sounds good BUT has already been done before which gives me no satisfaction. Or I create something that is so complex that I kind of like it, but no one in my band does, which doesn't give me a lot of satisfaction either. This is all making songwriting a bit boring.

I was hoping that some of you guys could help me with this by either:
Helping myself appreciate my not-so original writings.
or
Helping me to create music that is original and appeals to people.


Then there's something else that's bottering me, the balance for a band between new things and repetition, most bands have some repetition with which you can ussually recognize that band (for example, Iron Maiden doing the same chorus everytime). What are your opinions on this? For example I have noticed with my own band that about 80% of our choruses start with a i-VI. I try to move away from this but somehow it just keeps returning like it's a part of our band.


Don't OVER-analyze

If you've lost the ability to appreciate and enjoy music you're doing something wrong.

When you're studying music theory it's important not to lose the perspective that there is more to music than the fancy words that describe it.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 9, 2010,
#9
Quote by GuitarMunky
Don't OVER-analyze

If you've lost the ability to appreciate and enjoy music you're doing something wrong.

When you're studying music theory it's important not to lose the perspective that there is more to music than the fancy words that describe it.

This.

But you also sound like you're having the same problem I did. You have to force yourself to do something different if you really want to. You'd have no idea how many times I used the i - VI - V progression in my band, but no one would notice because of what I did with it.

You might just need to start listening to other genre's of music and get out of the whatevermetal genre you're mainly in for a little while. I used to write a lot of Death metal, but then I started listening to some progressive stuff (ala Dream Theater, Symphony X) and while my writing has changed a lot, I can go back to Death Metal and write some very interesting stuff.
#10
Quote by DiminishedFifth
You'd have no idea how many times I used the i - VI - V progression in my band, but no one would notice because of what I did with it.


^^ Remember that there's more to the sound of even just a guitar part than what someone would strum on an acoustic guitar - arpeggios (possibly broken), the voicings you use, any effects, the melody that goes over it - and the tone of a guitar or voice are massively important.

I'm a bit of a fanboy, but for me Radiohead are a great example of band with songs that often have interesting chord progressions - even if you were just playing them unaccompanied on an acoustic guitar or piano - generally voiced/played in an interesting way, generally with interesting tones/effects and crackin' melodies over the top. They sound original to me because they've got every base covered, not just a catchy melody over a standard progression.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
Last edited by Damascus at Jul 9, 2010,
#11
You know, it's pretty rare that there's even any such thing as original music. I can't think of any band (that sounds good) that has made me think "I have literally heard nothing even close to this in my entire life." Generally, the mere fact that a different person might sing differently, or have a different vibrato on guitar, a different rig, unique lyrics, whatever, is enough to make them sound unique, even though that aren't doing anything entirely that original.
#12
Just play what sounds good to you. Don't worry about originality. Chances are, if it sounds good, it's been done before. Even if it doesn't sound good it's likely been done before.
#13
Quote by GuitarMunky
Don't OVER-analyze

If you've lost the ability to appreciate and enjoy music you're doing something wrong.

When you're studying music theory it's important not to lose the perspective that there is more to music than the fancy words that describe it.

Yeah you're right on that, but the thing is, that there is no really turning back now. Everytime I write a generic progression I'll just think "Oh another i-VI-III-VII" and I just can't seem to apperciate my own music anymore when I do that, it just seems wrong for me. I want to bring something new to the world of music, not the same thing with a different melody to make it sound new.

I still enjoy music though, just none of my own new music.

Quote by DiminishedFifth
But you also sound like you're having the same problem I did. You have to force yourself to do something different if you really want to. You'd have no idea how many times I used the i - VI - V progression in my band, but no one would notice because of what I did with it.

You might just need to start listening to other genre's of music and get out of the whatevermetal genre you're mainly in for a little while. I used to write a lot of Death metal, but then I started listening to some progressive stuff (ala Dream Theater, Symphony X) and while my writing has changed a lot, I can go back to Death Metal and write some very interesting stuff.

My band members don't notice either, but I do notice that I'm doing the same thing, or remotely the same thing everytime. And I have been getting into some more progresive music, but this has caused me to write a new strain of music which my band doesn't really dig.

For me it kind of seems like I have moved from pretty standard but good to listen metal songs to more complex progresive stuff, but inbetween I had like this sweet spot where I wrote song that were both progressive, new, but still good to listen and I just want to be able to get back in that "zone". But I just can't find my way back, I either get under it and write songs that are too generic or I get over it and write too complex songs.

Quote by Dodeka
Don't worry about originality

I do bother about originality, that's part of the problem

Quote by Damascus/Chaingarden
Use different sounds and melodies to make it sound original

I want to sound original to myself, the problem is not really how my music sounds to the outside world, but how it sounds to me. But I suppose I should experiment more in this area in hopes of finding some new things.
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#14
Yeah it sucks how everything sounds like something because i have that same problem. So when i show a riff or something to my band i just say ok this is my (insert band name here) riff. Mostly because I'd rather say it myself then to hear someone else say "OMG that like totally sounds like ____". Even if i know its not even that close to said riff because the intervals and/or rhythm and/or key/scale are completely different, and i didn't even TRY to make it sound like that in just happens. That was all pretty unnecessary. I'm just blowing off a little steam, because I'm sick of band members/jam buddies saying/doing things that imply that something sounds like something else. When clearly they don't know shit about theory/intervals/rhythms, hell even music in general.
#15
you're probably not going to find a chord progression that hasnt been used. dont worry so much about that, songs can sound completely different yet use the same progression. compare lady gaga's pokerface to toto's africa. completely different songs yet the chorus's use the same chord progression. originality in music comes from how you're able to use whats been done and make it new. its not easy but its possible. i read this somewhere once... "good artists borrow, great artists steal."
#16
Quote by pinguinpanic
I want to sound original to myself, the problem is not really how my music sounds to the outside world, but how it sounds to me. But I suppose I should experiment more in this area in hopes of finding some new things.


If a I-vi bothers you, would a Imaj7-viadd9 bother you less? Are you using extended chords? I'm sure you are, but surely finding good-sounding ways to extend chords will sound more original to you than just standard triads.

I was writing a song that had a fairly simple collection of chords in the verse, but moving from the G on the high e to the F# each bar for most of it while changing the chords made it sound interesting enough for me to want to use it - it was Am7-Am6-Am7-Am6-Cmaj7(G top note)-Gmaj7(F# top note)-D-Asus2, and while I'm pretty sure there's no song that's used that exact progression, it didn't sound like nothing else, ever - nothing's ever going to. It's not a question of either being 100% or 0% original. Which I'm sure you know. I'm rambling, anyway, the point was I liked the sound of the progression and using mostly extended chords, plus using voicings that allowed a sortof melody (just G-F# and back again) to carry on over the top of the chords was enough to make it sound interesting for me.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
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http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#17
Quote by pinguinpanic
Yeah you're right on that, but the thing is, that there is no really turning back now. Everytime I write a generic progression I'll just think "Oh another i-VI-III-VII" and I just can't seem to apperciate my own music anymore when I do that, it just seems wrong for me. I want to bring something new to the world of music, not the same thing with a different melody to make it sound new.




You CAN appreciate music for what it is, rather than just the fancy words which describe it if your willing to look beyond them to the true source of originality........ YOU. Your creative mind.

In music....its the expression that sets it apart. focus on THAT. Focus on the art.

If you see your music as being "just another i VI II VII" progression..... you're missing point of music .... of art.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jul 10, 2010,
#18
To be honest Damascus, I haven't really gotten into a lot of extended chords, I ussually try implying them by the melodies I play over them, but perhaps I should try playing with them more.

GuitarMunky, you're right at the moment I'm missing the point, I guess somewhere on my way to learning all this theory and analyzing all my works I forgot that it is art I'm dealing with.

Thanks for all of you that have helped me on this, I hope this'll get me on the right track again.
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#20
something doesnt have to be competely new and never done before in order to be original. i mean, i could go look at some paintings and be like "oh look, another landscape on canvas". its the little things that make it original. even your complex songs you write have been done before. everything has. i guess its not so what what you play but how you play it. sure you could make something with a progression thats been done a hundred times, but there are other aspects of a song besides progressions.

i would say try not to worry to much about it. i go through the same thing where i think im not being original enough or im being too simple. sometimes though, thats a good thing.
#21
Quote by pinguinpanic
GuitarMunky, you're right at the moment I'm missing the point, I guess somewhere on my way to learning all this theory and analyzing all my works I forgot that it is art I'm dealing with.


Is it the thought of the progression being a standard progression that's putting you off it, or is it because it sounds like a boring, standard progression to you?

If it's just the thought of it, then it's something you should try to forget about, like you've been advised, but if you actually find the sound boring, then obviously you shouldn't be using them.

I went through the same thing and after a while realised that it was partly just the thought that bothered me, which allowed me to relax a bit more and enjoy some stuff I'd not listened to in a while, but it's mostly the sound, so I tend not to use them much when I write.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#22
This is what happens when you get too deep into and rely on theory. This is absolutely what happens, and this is why the most successful bands usually simply play by ear. You have to simply do what sounds good. A song isn't just a " progression", it has a groove, a melody, a rhythm, etc. Your problem is you also seem to be using music theory as a shortcut to making good music, and again, this is what happens. You want to be original? Cool down, forget your theory for just a little bit, and just bang around on the guitar for an hour.
#23
I hate to put down all the people who are like, "get a grip, stop thinking theory so much, yada yada" because it's probably good advice, but I find I can sympathize. Have you ever tried using different textures besides guitars, drums, etc.? Listen to some electronic music to see what other possibilities exist for "music". Applying extremely basic progressions and melodic motifs to unusual synths can completely twist what you're hearing. Try some Shpongle, Autechre, Ulrich Schnauss, OTT, etc.

If you're completely unwilling to accept other textures, as some people are, see what you can still do with drums/bass/guitars. A lot of math rock is just completely whacked when it comes to everything: Tera Melos, Don Caballero, Battles, Hella, etc.

Also, what I've been trying to do lately is through-compose music for instruments/synths and avoid copypasting entirely. While this isn't always the best option, it is good exercise, although it's TIME CONSUMING AS HELL.

Don't give up, I've been struggling with this for the past 5 years.
#24
i think doing the same chorus again and again is what actually makes it a chorus, but if you do different choruses it doesnt mean it sounds crappy though, in a project i am starting (blues, hard rock) al of our songs use the same chorus except for one, so yeah, i think doing different choruses should be used but not in abuse. Also depends on what you mean different choruses, by that i am thinking of what hendrix does in purple haze which is in one singing ''excuse me while i kiss the sky'' and in the other one ''Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me''

about choruses always doing i-VI anybody can stop that i guess, im thinking the problem is actually on someone (*coughs* bassist) on your band who is influencing your chord progression writing

and about choosing wheater to write something no one will like or something everybody has written, well id prefer to hear stuff, but look at music today we have from justin bieber to job for a cowboy and if you are talking about structures, key changes (lets say to its relative minor) or even if you are talking about chord progressions, well, i only think that about melodies personally
#25
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd88OICBiu0 Modest Mouse and Califone covered a metal song even though they don't resemble metal at all, completely changed the way the song sounds. Don't tell me they weren't being creative there yet it being a cover. So look at a electronic song or indie, whatever cover it but cover it to be metal and I'm sure you'll find some creativeness.
#26
Well, you could argue that Western musicians all use the same building blocks for their songs - diatonic harmony. To get away with that, you'd have to dip into other cultures, but why?

I think you should concentrate on the meaning and imagery you want to express with your music. The people that really left their mark as musicians were the ones that could really speak to you with their music. It's something I rarely see now.

PS: Jimi Hendrix may not have been a super-technical guitarist of the likes of Paul Gilbert, but Jimi definitely is the best when it comes to painting pictures and telling stories with his music. That's why he is regarded the way he is today.
Last edited by STONESHAKER at Jul 12, 2010,
#27
Don't think of things in terms of how original a riff or melody or chord progression is. Think of how original the whole song is, what it does with those ideas, where it takes you when you listen to it from start to finish.

Also, don't forget tone colour. People have been using the same musical scales and rhythmic ideas for centuries, but new and original ways of creating or modifying sound are constantly being invented.
I'LL PUNCH A DONKEY IN THE STREETS OF GALWAY
Last edited by whalepudding at Jul 12, 2010,
#28
Hey guys thanks for your further advice, I finally got myself pulled together and put out a song that I'm happy with. My band likes it as well so we're playing it soon.

I just embraced our band's signature Chorus, because it is what I want a chorus to sound like, and it is how our bands chorusses sound like. Wrote the song with idea for the vocals/lyrics in the back of my head, but I'll let our bassplayer sort outthe lyrics (He's good with lyrics). Haven't fully perfected the song yet, but I like it so far.
I also didn't restrict myself to just what we have in our band, but I added some subtle strings and piano at some parts.

Anyway:
Thank you guys (:
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