#1
So after years of playing cover song I've finally decided to buckle down and write my own stuff. I spend most of my drive to and from work listening to music and thinking of riffs in my head, which I usually come up with at least one. However when I try to work it out when I get home my mind goes blank as soon as I play a note. Does this happen to anyone else? Any ideas to help with this?
#2
yuuup, happens to me all the time. i think it may be a product of spending too much time playing guitar mindlessly and not really working on that feedback loop between the ears/brain and the fingers. i've been doing a bit of ear training, and i think it helps. play more songs by ear, think of simple melodies in your head and then attempt to play them. when sitting down to compose, avoid the temptation to relapse into jamming mode - try not to play when you can't think of anything.
Quote by archerygenious
Jesus Christ since when is the Pit a ****ing courtroom...

Like melodic, black, death, symphonic, and/or avant-garde metal? Want to collaborate? Message me!
#4
It never happens to me like that. I never think of a riff in my mind and then try and play it through the guitar later. I could come up with a ton of riffs one after the other on my drive home, and I wont' remember any to play on my guitar. If I do, the second I hit a note which will probably be in the wrong key, I will have forgotten the riff I was thinking of.

I always write on the guitar itself, if it is a guitar piece. Even if it is in my hands, I don't really think of something and then play it. I just start with something, whatever, some random thing, 2 notes, or a chord, and then do whatever rhythm I want, and then do whatever that makes me want to do, and I know where to get most of the sounds I want, especially once I've established which key I'm in, so I don't lose my train of thought from hunting around too much.

For me, the entire journey of learning guitar has been to be able to get what I hear or imagine directly from my thoughts into sound on the guitar. The idea is for thought not to be detached from the music that comes out of the guitar, but it is one thing. Just like you wouldn't normally think in advance about what you're going to say to somebody, you just think and speak in one fell swoop.

You could noodle around while you record so you don't lose your train of thought too badly, but that won't help you for the future so much. What helps the most in that respect is to learn some theory. Not to give you ideas, or tell you what to do, but to let you express your ideas through your guitar without any trouble, without any hesitation. Like speaking.
#5
Quote by hungonahook
May I ask what kind of ear training you're working on?


just the things i said. learning songs by ear, and doing the exercise where you think of a melody and then try to play it.

learning more chord voicings and the theory behind them also helps the ear immensely.
Quote by archerygenious
Jesus Christ since when is the Pit a ****ing courtroom...

Like melodic, black, death, symphonic, and/or avant-garde metal? Want to collaborate? Message me!
#6
Thanks a lot guys. What would you say the absolute must know in terms of theory. I've dabbled in it but the more I learn the less I understand if that makes any sense
#8
Don't wait for inspiration. It's all perspiration.

It gets easier every time you write.

Just do rough drafts (even if they suck) and edit later.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#9
It may help to sing the riff and record it on your phone or something, that way when you go to work it out later you won't lose sight of the ideal riff with each wrong note. That has happened to me many times because my crap playing replaces the riff in my head and I lose it if I don't find it quickly enough. Recording the ideas, even if it's just a vocal la-la-la on my phone's voice recorder) is something absolutely vital to my songwriting process.

Good luck, you've got this!
Telecaster - SG - Jaguar
Princeton Reverb, Extra Reverb
P-Bass - Mustang Bass
Apogee Duet 2 - Ableton Suite
#10
Quote by Sid McCall
It may help to sing the riff and record it on your phone or something, that way when you go to work it out later you won't lose sight of the ideal riff with each wrong note. That has happened to me many times because my crap playing replaces the riff in my head and I lose it if I don't find it quickly enough. Recording the ideas, even if it's just a vocal la-la-la on my phone's voice recorder) is something absolutely vital to my songwriting process.

Good luck, you've got this!

This.

Record the ideas on your phone and listen to them at home and then try to play them.

I don't really subscribe to fingrpikingood's way. If you get musical ideas in your head, why wouldn't you want to remember them? Guitar is just a tool to play musical ideas. I mean, of course you can also use guitar to get new ideas. But if I hear something in my head, I always try to remember it. Sometimes it happens when I'm playing, sometimes it happens when I'm doing something else. Music doesn't need to be spontaneous. Just like if you get a great idea and you couldn't talk about it with anybody at the moment, you can write it down. I wouldn't wait for a random conversation, I would just write that idea down so that I remember it in the future. Composing is not like talking. Composing is more like writing a book. Not saying there's nothing wrong with fingrpikingood's way (anything that works for you is great), but that's not good advice in the context of this thread. TS wants to remember the ideas he gets when he's driving.

I would suggest learning to sing. I don't mean learning to sing like a signer, I mean learning to sing in tune. That will help you with being able to think in pitch. Learn to play what you sing (and learn to sing what you hear in your head).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine
This.

Record the ideas on your phone and listen to them at home and then try to play them.

I don't really subscribe to fingrpikingood's way. If you get musical ideas in your head, why wouldn't you want to remember them? Guitar is just a tool to play musical ideas. I mean, of course you can also use guitar to get new ideas. But if I hear something in my head, I always try to remember it. Sometimes it happens when I'm playing, sometimes it happens when I'm doing something else. Music doesn't need to be spontaneous. Just like if you get a great idea and you couldn't talk about it with anybody at the moment, you can write it down. I wouldn't wait for a random conversation, I would just write that idea down so that I remember it in the future. Composing is not like talking. Composing is more like writing a book. Not saying there's nothing wrong with fingrpikingood's way (anything that works for you is great), but that's not good advice in the context of this thread. TS wants to remember the ideas he gets when he's driving.

I would suggest learning to sing. I don't mean learning to sing like a signer, I mean learning to sing in tune. That will help you with being able to think in pitch. Learn to play what you sing (and learn to sing what you hear in your head).


The reason I don't bother, is because if I did, then I'd have thousands upon thousands of licks recorded in my phone, which would take me forever to go through at a guitar to find the piece that inspires me the way I feel at that particular time. I much prefer to just sit at my guitar and come up with something else. If It's an idea for a hook or something like that, I'll jot that down, but a melody or whatever is not worth it to me. It's just easier to come up with a new one.

I'm already pretty picky with what I keep and record even with my guitar, and I have probably about 500 unique recorded licks. That's way too many to go through really. Already they are just sitting there, unfinished, and it is often too many to go through. I just come up with something different, if I am going to write. Although, maybe one day I will stumble across one and think it is cool, and work on it. I still record the ones I really like that I made on the guitar.

But any idea I like that pops into my head is too many ideas. There are probably some in the past that I may hear now and think is cool, but it's too much trouble to me. Just give me a guitar, and I'll come up with another one.

It wasn't necessarily advice I was giving. Everybody is different. He asked if anyone else had that issue. I replied that no I don't, and told him why, and how I go about doing things. I never said he should write music the way I write music. I would never say that to anybody.

People have to find their own path. I don't know anybody that posts here. I can't say what they should do or shouldn't do, unless I learn about them first. I can only say what I do, and what works for me.

I don't think TS necessarily wants to remember what he imagines while he drives, but wonders why his mind is inventing cool stuff while he drives, but isn't while he is holding a guitar.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Mar 15, 2015,
#12
^ Yeah, if you don't have a problem with coming up with new ideas, I understand completely - too many ideas is too many. But TS was having an issue - he got ideas in his car but when he tried playing them at home, he forgot them.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#13
I had understood the problem as well, as OP being able to workout a melody or riffs in their mind, in the car, but when they sat down with the guitar, trying to come up with something, they get crickets.

So, my solution to that would be to write straight on the guitar, and you don't have to work anything out. But in order to do that efficiently, you need to practice some theory.

So that's the advice I gave. It would be silly for us to argue over what someone else meant to say. But either way, he got good solutions, and that's why forums are useful. You get to hear different angles and different solutions to problems.
#14
^ Yeah. At first I didn't understand your point. But when you explained it, I understood it completely. It works for you because you have so many ideas. Yeah, different things work for different people.

I do think it's also good to be able to write without a guitar/other instrument in your hand. That means you can't rely on muscle memory - you need to think in sound. Some people may think they are using their ears when they play and listen to what they are playing. But that's not what using your ears really means. You need to first come up with the sound, then play it, not the other way around. Of course when you are good, your ear-fingers connection is so good that you don't need to think about the sound and fingers separately. You can just play what you hear straight away.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Mar 16, 2015,
#15
@maggara Sure, but sometimes improvising stuff with your instrument can help come up with ideas. I mean sometimes I have nothing, then I play some random shit on my piano and come up with an idea of some kind that I begin to develop.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Mar 16, 2015,
#16
^ Of course. I also get inspired by the sounds I'm playing and start hearing things that way. It's good to be able to do it with or without an instrument.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#17
Quote by Elintasokas
@maggara Sure, but sometimes improvising stuff with your instrument can help come up with ideas. I mean sometimes I have nothing, then I play some random shit on my piano and come up with an idea of some kind that I begin to develop.


Right, and if you think first a sound in your mind and try to play it, hearing the first not you play in some weird key will throw you off, and it can be hard to go on from there. But if you start with a sound on your instrument, that's a solid reference in the right key you can go from. Then you can think next what you want, and play it together at the same time, with some practice. You can still hunt if you're not there yet, but that risks losing your train of thought again. Of course a voice recording of something you imagined will also solve that problem, since you have a solid reference you can go back to, even if you get kind of lost. It's actually not a bad idea to record while you write also, because it can be pretty easy to forget the rhythm you had or whatever, and you can just go back in the recording and get that back again.

That's why they are both good solutions for different approaches/situations.
Last edited by fingrpikingood at Mar 16, 2015,
#18
Yeah, and unless you are totally pro at relative pitch (assuming your piece has a tonal center to begin with) hearing/memorizing complex harmonies in your head is NOT easy. So actually hearing the stuff helps you make sure your harmonies make sense.