#1
More of a philosophical question more than anything and wanted some opinions on this, so at this point I've gotten about as much gear as I could possibly need (two electrics, one acoustic, two amplifiers, and guitar interface w/software) and hell actually way more than I'd ever need and the time has come to buckle down and seriously try to compose music... be it a full song, solo, backing track, whatever, just getting the creative process started.

I've been taking private guitar lessons over a year now and learned so much music theory and even more still to learn that there's too much to practice in a day unless I take the time to sit down and narrow the focus.

Anyways, in creating progressive hard rock-type songs as that's where my roots lie, I still struggle with basic fundamentals such as chops, calling upon chords and modes freely in a given key as I play, and fretboard visualization. The paradox I've stumbled into basically is using the entire neck freely without feeling restricted by those dreaded box patterns.

In my experience, and research on the internet. It's almost as if you have to learn patterns to eventually not be reliant on patterns... I know ear training and theory can help in breaking out of those box patterns. The goal of course is to play something unique to ourselves even if it is pentatonic, harmonic minor, ETC. us as guitar players putting our own spin on things.

Basically how can I create unique chord progressions and lead lines? So I can get out of cookie cutter power chord riffing and basic open chord strumming.
#2
Well, answer this question: do you know what "unique" music sounds like?

A big problem for a lot of people who start learning theory is that they learn a lot of isolated information without real context, I'm sure if you asked any bedroom guitarist who's crazy about modes to actually name a song that's in phrygian or lydian there's a good chance they couldn't do it. So if you think your playing sounds cookie cutter, boxed in, uninspired etc. can you name some songs that don't sound like that? If you can, can you play those songs? If you can, do you understand what makes those songs sound so unique? You can't just come up with inspired, original music out of nowhere, you need to know what makes good music sound like good music.

So what's this obsession with sound in this post? Well, music is sound, not black dots on a sheet. In the end, composing is also based on sounds, not arbitrary letters and numbers even if those letters and numbers are useful. Sound is of course closely related to ear training, which is something you should do regularly. With a good ear, you can hear a song, and play it right away on your instrument without looking up a sheet or a tab. So, have you ever had a cool melody, or a chord progression, or any part for that matter that you came up with in your head, but you can't translate it to your instrument? Well, ear training applies to "imagined" music just as well as it applies to real music. Not sure if others will agree with me on this, but to me this is the best approach to writing good, original music - knowing what the music you want to write sounds like, and using your ears in translating that to the instrument. Theory has it's uses, but to me it has always been more of an analytical tool, rather than a creative one. But that might not apply to everyone.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#3
Quote by anthonymarisc

Anyways, in creating progressive hard rock-type songs as that's where my roots lie, I still struggle with basic fundamentals such as chops, calling upon chords and modes freely in a given key as I play, and fretboard visualization. The paradox I've stumbled into basically is using the entire neck freely without feeling restricted by those dreaded box patterns.
That's a technical limitation, not exactly a "paradox". The answer is simply more practice learning the fretboard. I suggest working with chords, not scale patterns. Chord shapes are much easier things to remember, and more useful in the long run. When you know chord shapes, it's easy to build scale patterns around them, and you will then know the chord-scale links properly, practically, without having to theorise about them.
Quote by anthonymarisc

In my experience, and research on the internet. It's almost as if you have to learn patterns to eventually not be reliant on patterns...
Well, you can't ignore the patterns that scales and chords create on the fretboard, so you may as well exploit them. Of course, you need to know their musical meaning (and not all the patterns have musical meaning), but you end up working with patterns anyway. E.g., if I want to play an F# major scale, I don't do it by thinking of all the notes in F# major, and then finding each one of them on the neck. I work from an F# major chord shape (5 options) and I know how the major scale fits around all of them. So - in around a second - I can have my fingers on an F# major scale, anywhere I choose in the neck.
That comes from (a) learning chord shapes (b) learning which notes are root-3rd-5th, (c) learning where 2-4-6-7 are in relation to those. Obviously I know every note on every fret too, but I work from shapes and patterns, because that's what I see on the fretboard.
Quote by anthonymarisc

I know ear training and theory can help in breaking out of those box patterns.
Yes. In particular understanding how the patterns work musically: which note is the root, or keynote? What chord shapes can you see in there? How does this pattern link with the next one? You can do all the necessary ear training on the instrument itself, finding notes that match (same notes in different octaves), finding strong intervals such as 4ths and 5ths; working out new chord shapes. Theory, meanwhile, tells you what all those notes and chords are called, and how they might connect with other chords.
Quote by anthonymarisc

The goal of course is to play something unique to ourselves even if it is pentatonic, harmonic minor, ETC. us as guitar players putting our own spin on things.

Basically how can I create unique chord progressions and lead lines? So I can get out of cookie cutter power chord riffing and basic open chord strumming.
Well, don't set too much store by "unique". The best chord progressions are used time and again, maybe with a few little tweaks, but not so much you could call them "unique". What composers do is re-arrange familiar material in fresh ways. "Originality" is in the new mix of old stuff.
What that requires - of course - is having plenty of material to play with! And that comes from learning to play as many other people's songs as you can. Inspiration doesn't come by magic out of the air (or out of some god-given inner talent). It comes from the chemical interactions between all those songs you've learned, bubbling away in your subconscious. To get stuff out, you have to put stuff in, basically. It's like learning a language: there's a vocabulary, a syntax, a grammar, to how songs are put together. You can get a lot of it from theory books, but most of the great pop and rock songwriters didn't take that route. They started by simply loving songs, which meant they copied everything they heard. You soon learn the ropes that way, and any original idea you have for a song can borrow the tricks you've picked up, to give it chord sequences and structure.
#4
Quote by Kevätuhri
to me it has always been more of an analytical tool, rather than a creative one

Yeah... Theory on its own doesn't really make you creative. But theory gives you tools to analyze music and figure out what's happening in your favorite songs and in that way can help your creativity. Also, sometimes experimenting with a theoretical concept may force you to write something different - something that you wouldn't otherwise hear in your head. But yeah, in the end, no matter what your approach to songwriting is, it's your ears that decide whether something sounds good or not. If you have a good ear, it will be easier to achieve the sounds that you are after.

Basically how can I create unique chord progressions and lead lines? So I can get out of cookie cutter power chord riffing and basic open chord strumming.

Find some songs that have "unique" chord progressions and figure out what's happening in them. Also, learn some new chord voicings if all you do is play power chords and open chords. It's all about getting familiar with the sound. If you are only familiar with the sound of power chords and basic open chords, you can't really expect your own musical ideas to be harmonically that interesting.
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