Is composing all done in your mind then translating it to guitar? What is your guys method, cause Im having trouble coming up with music in my mind..
Eh sometimes. Most of the time I'll find something cool on the guitar by playing around and work with it from there. There are other times where something just comes into my mind and I need to find a guitar quickly to figure it out, but I've never actually actively tried to compose without having an instrument in my hands.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
I find that composing without an instrument in hand can be quite liberating. However, I do most of my composing based off of improvisations I've done which doesn't differ from AlanHB's method at all.
I sometimes sing riffs into a mic and later learn to play on guitar. If I just jam on guitar muscle memory often makes me play the same sorta things
Well...First I formost I play the guitar because it's fun.
Sometimes I just turn on the recorder when Im just jamming or whatever.
I not actively thinking I need it to sound this way or that way. I just let it flow.
Then I just go back and listen to it.

Other times I just listen to other music. it dosnt have to be guitar music. Sometimes
I'll hear a cool scale or riffs other instruments are doing.
I actually listen tangerine dreams or yani sometimes.

I don't worry too much about sounding like anyone because I simply don't really sound
like anyone if I just play the way I play...whether it's techniquely wrong or not.

I also have books with progression charts. I'll simply just pick one.
I'll simply write around it whether I think it's stupid or not. Sometimes the song has a life
on it's own.

That's why I learn new scales all the time. I don't necessary remember all of them.
As Im messing around with the new scale. I just come up with different riffs.

I don't particularly get stuck on onething. On the menu this week for some reason
or another Im learning Zeppelin. The previous week I was doing Median. For some
reason Ive been looking up funk guitars or the police. hahaaa

example...this song I wrote. In my head I wanted the intro lead guitar
to be kind of like The Bleeding by FFDP. Not so much that I would sound like him
or the song would be like it. It was more about not being as busied and phrasing
notes. Not so much that it would have a pretty sounding melody but more about
making the guitar scream..because I liked the solo to the intro to the bleeding. The first
note his hitted was the main melody.lol
The B part of the song are just arpeggios to cover up the quirky background but it was written for vocal.

On this song. I wrote a white snake type background and wanted a Satrian type melody. A Schenker type solo. The trailing solo was me improvising.
I want the guitar to weep more. Plus mix the pentatonic with diatonic.
That's what I was trying do at the time. Get use to improvising with questions and
answers phrasing on the fly. I basically played around the melody. I was getting
more in control of using the cry baby, instead of pumping it just for sake of pumping it.
Last edited by smc818 at Jan 29, 2014,
Quote by AlanHB
Eh sometimes. Most of the time I'll find something cool on the guitar by playing around and work with it from there. There are other times where something just comes into my mind and I need to find a guitar quickly to figure it out, but I've never actually actively tried to compose without having an instrument in my hands.

Same here except that these days I do it with a piano. I usually just pick a tonic and go from there trying different things. Most of the time I come up with a chord sequence first and the melody afterwards.

Most people seem to say that you should make the melodies first, but to be honest I often prefer listening to piano comping rather than melodies for some reason. To me there's nothing better than sophisticated chord comping.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Jan 29, 2014,
Most of my composing takes place without an instrument in hand. Or if I'm working on a melody on an instrument I can play, I usually like to have one near so I can get a basic sense of what the melody will actually sound like and begin to mull over possible harmonizations.

The second option usually never happens though.
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most of my composing goes on paper completely before ever seeing an instrument, then i'll play through it, change things i don't like if there are any, and there you go? I feel like I can be much more creative writing this way, because there is no sense of "muscle memory" involved..whereas if I picked up a guitar and started trying to write things, I'd inevitably throw in some licks/riffs/whatchamacallits i've used frequently in improvisation.
It depends. Sometimes I compose with an instrument, and sometimes I won't.

If I compose with an instrument, I usually have a basic sound in mind and then play it on guitar. I mess around with it until I get it to sound close to my idea. Then, I refine it to fit the song or piece. I do this a lot with riffs. I may start with something simple, like an I-IV-V idea. Then, I like to add in non-diatonic chords or extended chords to spice it up. So...my original I-IV-V idea may become I-IV-IIsus4-V-V9.

If I compose without an instrument, then I write down the notes first. I do this a lot with melodies (usually played over a rhythm/harmony part). Then, I make sure that, at first glance, none of the notes clash too much. For instance, a D# played over a D is generally not a sound I like to hear. Next, I play the melody on guitar (even if it was written for piano or violin), just to make sure that the melody flows well.
If lyrics are in the song:
I write the lyrics first without regard to melody or harmony or anything. I took a Berklee college of music online course on songwriting a few months ago, and I'm not going to go into the whole course as it would be too long, but it's basically about how to write lyrics well and all that jazz. One of the first ideas of the course is that fitting lyrics to melody is a lot more restrictive than writing lyrics and then creating the melody around it, and them harmonizing what you have from there. It makes the song sound a lot tighter as whole, and you never need to write a line that you don't want in order to fit the melody that you have, or anything of that nature.
I like to think of an interesting chord progression, then base it off that. If I start with melody I'm just going to trap myself into the same boring patterns.