#1
Hi,

I have been playing guitar for just about two years. I generally play "metalcore" (I hate acknowledging sub-genres), stuff along the lines of I See Stars, Of Mice and Men, A Day to Remember, Beartooth, etc. I'm pretty confident playing most novice and say, 70% of intermediate tabs on this website, so I'm happy with my ability to read tab. That being said, my ability to create my own music is poor.

My end goal with the guitar is to end up in a band, but I don't want to do that until I'm better at creating my own music. Obviously, the best way to improve is just to practice improv. But what is my best way to do this? Use garageband to record my own songs (rhythm and lead guitar only)? Learn more music theory and then practice applying that? Playing along to songs I don't know?

Any feedback is appreciated. Thank you in advance.
#2
I'd like to add that I'm fairly confident in my ability to write decent chorus riffs or breakdowns, or things of that nature.. I'm especially struggling to write leads, solos, etc.
#4
To my mind there is nothing more important than practice, so yes, just go about recording guitar tracks and improvising on them. Garageband contains a drummer and other instruments, too, so just try working with that. Coming with practice you will find it easier to know how chord changes sound and feel, same with writing melodies. One last thing I found is that it helps me to put away the guitar from time to time, since with that you have a different approach and are not limited to your skills and routines on the instrument. Learning to play -or even just trying to- another instrument might give you another viewpoint, too.
Hope that helps, I'm rather confident with my music writing, writing texts is still a whole different thing to learn

EDIT: Oh, and don't be afraid to join a band, you can learn from other musicians, or join your creative forces. And if you want to work on your leads it will probably help to just write riffs/songs and layer your own leads on it
Last edited by HAN95 at Jul 8, 2015,
#5
^Improvisation and composition aren't exactly the same skills.
While both produce new music, each of require a slightly different mindset.

If he wants to compose, he should practice composing.
Improvisation is just about making a melody over already existing chords or making a melody and chords/bass line, but it's all made using just one instrument.
Skilled composer should easily came up with more sophisticated instrumentation (it's often harder than composing outline of chord structure and melody) and he will not learn it just by improvising.
#6
Maybe I didnt make that clear, composing is what I meant with using Garageband, and that´s why I said he should try using the instruments included, too. I just thought, that trying to improvise and layer different guitar tracks makes a great practice and starting point, as it allows you to gather new ideas and get creative. You learn how to write a melody or guitar part that fits the song´s mood and develop an understanding of how different elements sound.
To give an example, after doing this for some time I now have the ability to play chords without having tabs or chords with me, since I know how the change should sound and can find the chords without thinking about them. To me that helps with my own songwriting, as I can create working chord progressions on the fly or can just play everything that comes to my mind. Same goes for lead playing, and all of it helps being creative and creating things that make the song sound good (e.g. layers).
You could call all of that experimenting.
The skills you develop like that (e.g. ear training) may then be taken to any other instrument to write parts of the song.

Long story short, if you want to write songs, practice writing

Of course that is all just my viewpoint and how it works for me, if anyone of you can offer another approach Id be more than interested to hear about it
#7
The best time to get into a band was yesterday.

Composing and improvising are closely related, but they are not the same thing. If you want to get better at composing, start practicing composing.

Certain skills from improvisation will carry over, but learning how to write via improvising would be like trying to write a novel with only dialogue.

Not the finest analogy, but my point is made.
"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
#8
Quote by HAN95
Maybe I didnt make that clear, composing is what I meant with using Garageband, and that´s why I said he should try using the instruments included, too. I just thought, that trying to improvise and layer different guitar tracks makes a great practice and starting point, as it allows you to gather new ideas and get creative. You learn how to write a melody or guitar part that fits the song´s mood and develop an understanding of how different elements sound.
To give an example, after doing this for some time I now have the ability to play chords without having tabs or chords with me, since I know how the change should sound and can find the chords without thinking about them. To me that helps with my own songwriting, as I can create working chord progressions on the fly or can just play everything that comes to my mind. Same goes for lead playing, and all of it helps being creative and creating things that make the song sound good (e.g. layers).
You could call all of that experimenting.
The skills you develop like that (e.g. ear training) may then be taken to any other instrument to write parts of the song.

Long story short, if you want to write songs, practice writing

Of course that is all just my viewpoint and how it works for me, if anyone of you can offer another approach Id be more than interested to hear about it


Thank you for taking all the time to write this and the previous answer, I really appreciate it! All of it made sense, and seems like very useful and applicable advice. My only question is that you mentioned "don't be afraid to join a band". The area I come from has a solid local scene, and I have some friends in the scene, but I can't seem to find a good fit for me. Any advice for finding my way into a band or just finding people to jam with?
#9
Quote by Jet Penguin
The best time to get into a band was yesterday.

Composing and improvising are closely related, but they are not the same thing. If you want to get better at composing, start practicing composing.

Certain skills from improvisation will carry over, but learning how to write via improvising would be like trying to write a novel with only dialogue.

Not the finest analogy, but my point is made.


Point taken! I'm new enough to the guitar that I could definitely use plenty of practice in both improv and composing. You said that the best time to get into a band was yesterday, what do you mean? I've always been of the mindset that I should develop my own skills first before I join a band. What would you recommend instead?
#10
^You're going to get very good very fast by playing in a band with out people, and you should never avoid seeking out musicians to play with and learn from, even if they are better than you, you'll catch up.

Now obviously there's like a minimum level of skill you need to successfully play with others, but once you have that, hit the ground running and play with everyone you can.
"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
#11
1) I recommend joining a band and learning how to jam with them. Figure out what works and what doesn't work, in a band situation. In other words, you going crazy with a guitar solo in the middle of "chorus"...generally doesn't work BUT can, in the right situation. Just start learning how to act and (more importantly) react to what other musicians are playing.

2) Just start writing. Take your inspirations (seems like you like "Metalcore" a lot) and figure out what "worked" and "didn't work". (Note: What works and doesn't is subjective, to a degree.) Think of what you would like hearing in your own work.
Then just write. Yes, your first few efforts will be total garbage. BUT keep writing! Learn from your failures and keep improving.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jul 9, 2015,
#12
^So much this.

The reason I can write a decent (some would say 'good') song is because I've written literally hundreds of terrible drafts.
"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
#13
Quote by Jet Penguin
^So much this.

The reason I can write a decent (some would say 'good') song is because I've written literally hundreds of terrible drafts.
Oh, yeah...man, my first few songs were awful. They were like really, really shitty versions of old Linkin Park songs. That's saying something!

But, now, 10 years later, it's not too hard for me to craft a decent song.
#14
Thank you everyone! Everyone's advice is super helpful. I'll definitely start working on writing my own stuff and start trying to find some friends to jam with!