#1
Well Im a little embarassed to even be typing this because I am a somewhat experienced guitarist and songwriter, but I guess it happens to the best of us.

For the most part, I used to play punk, alternative, grunge, and metal music. Within the past year though, I came to the realization that those genres weren't my real calling.

I really started diving head deep into late 70s, and 80s music. Some examples would be Isley Brothers, Chic, Billy Ocean, early Michael Jackson, Hall and Oates, etc. I also really enjoy The Police and Tears for Fears.

I love this style of music and its definitely what I want to play. But when I sit down to play, I find myself playing the same Maj7 and Min7 chords over and over. The chord progressions just dont seem to intrigue me. However, I strive to find some way to keep this going, which leads me here.

What are some tips, tricks or techniques to get out of this slump? How does one keep things interesting and inspiring, especially in a genre where everything already seems to have been done by someone else? Any help would be appreciated. Cheers!
#2
listen to more music 
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#3
Besides this:
https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/news/features/overcoming_guitarists_block.html

I'll add something I learned from cooking: sometimes, try to create something without using your favorite ingredients. I have created several dishes that step 1 of the process was taking all of the seasonings in the pantry I'd normally use with the main ingredient and consciously setting them aside.

In your case, deliberately eliminate the Maj7 & Min7 chords that have become tired to you. This will require focus and attention to your playing like you probably haven't used since your first year of playing, because it will be sooooooo easy to relax and resort to those "crutch chords" again.

You might even need to sit down with a chord book to find tasty alternatives.
Sturgeon's 2nd Law, a.k.a. Sturgeon's Revelation: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.”

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Log off and play yer guitar!

Strap on, tune up, rock out!
#4
robpm9995 I agree with guys above, just want to add, that you can try another instrument (e.g. bass or uke), it can help you to get a fresh look at guitar and music in general.
#5
Have a think about rhythmic structure for a song first (Verses, choruses etc), and then the structure within each (phrase shape), and finally think about adding melodic and chordal content.  This can help a lot to break the usual blockages.
#6
robpm9995  A few tricks:

1) Play the minor or major chord a half step up or down from the usual chord in the typical progression - that sometimes works to break free of the norm.  

2) write a bass line first or write using a keyboard rather than a guitar.

3) listen to more music - old jazz would be a good idea.    
#7
Sometimes you just have to use a brute force fooling around approach... finding new chords and new ways of playing old chords and experimenting to make it work... For example, here is something I composed for one of my bands in just a few minutes of fooling around, now it is the bridge of our newest song...

I took an old chord Em7 and found a different way to play it, like this...

[0][7][5][7][0][0] Em7

Then took a fairly new chord like maj7sus2 and looked for where it sounded nice, like here...

[0][7][5][7][0][0] Em7
[x][6][8][7][6][6] D#maj7sus2

Kept going and instead of a Dm7 tried and liked the Dsus2

[0][7][5][7][0][0] Em7
[x][6][8][7][6][6] D#maj7sus2
[x][5][7][7][5][5] Dsus2

What next? Another maj7sus... C#maj7sus2

[0][7][5][7][0][0] Em7
[x][6][8][7][6][6] D#maj7sus2
[x][5][7][7][5][5] Dsus2
[x][4][6][5][4][4] C#maj7sus2

By now I can hear this is wanting to go to D, so wrapped it up with A#sus2, and Gm6 or Gsus2 to Dsus2/A

[0][7][5][7][0][0] Em7
[x][6][8][7][6][6] D#maj7sus2
[x][5][7][7][5][5] Dsus2
[x][4][6][5][4][4] C#maj7sus2
[x][1][3][3][1][1] A#sus2
[3][x][0][3][3][0] Gm6 or [3][x][0][2][3][x] Gsus2 (liked both so decided to alternate each time)
[x][0][0][2][3][0] Dsus2/A (I like the sound of the low A here, it was also a clue as to what do do next))

What else can I do with this? It sounds ethereal and mystical, but it can sound much darker if I include the low E string except for the last D chord which already has an A under it (the clue). Nothing more than pushing all the index finger barres to include the low E string and playing it...

[0][7][5][7][0][0] Em7
[6][6][8][7][6][6] D#maj7sus2/A#
[5][5][7][7][5][5] Dsus2/A
[4][4][6][5][4][4] C#maj7sus2/G#
[1][1][3][3][1][1] A#sus2/F
[3][x][0][3][3][0] Gm6 or [3][x][0][2][3][x] Gsus2 (alternate each time)
[x][0][0][2][3][0] Dsus2/A (I like the sound of the low A here)


Now this has almost a grunge/jazz tone with the addition of the low notes... so we play it both ways.
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Last edited by PlusPaul at Mar 15, 2017,
#8
PlusPaul tbh this would be better with chord names that better show the function

Overall I see

ii7-VI(-iv)-V(5/4) waiting for V-i

Em7
Ebmaj7sus2/Bb (implying Ebmaj9, common tones with D minor)
Dsus2/A (implying D minor)
Dbmaj7sus2/Ab *
Bbsus2/F **
Gm6 or Em7b5/G or Gsus2 (implying minor)
Asus4 (the bass D is too muddy and it's functioning as V)

* questionable function, would say bIII of Bb, since it's a descending chromatic portion and the first and last chords in a chromatic descent/ascent are most prominent by virtue of position. Db has no function relative to D, and C# is a leading tone but this isn't acting as a leading tone chord (plus the leading tone chord is traditionally a diminished chord instead)
** A#'s perfect 5th is E#, not F. This has to be the name.
#10
You gotta just keep writing and playing, whether or not you feel "inspired".

If you wait for those moments of inspiration, you'll find yourself either away from any means of or recording or writing it down, or just lacking the skills and discipline to complete an idea start to finish.

And no idea is good on its own. Nearly every piece of music has multiple moving parts - harmony, melody, rhythm - that combine to make something better than the individual parts. There are a lot of brilliant songs with very simple individual parts and one decent melody that just fit together beautifully. Chances are you're not going to hear all those little parts at once, so you have to start with what you do hear and go from there.
#11
Once I had writers block for two whole years. I wrote literally nothing, not a  single new riff, song, lick or solo. Today I realize the reason what I was over thinking, perfectionism.

I may be completely wrong here but I would like you to explore this possibility. The fact that you feel embarassed to say this, that you're too concerned what you'll do has been done before and that you seem to feel it's not enough to just use maj and min 7th remind me of how I was in those two years.

When I realized what was going on, I broke the spell by going to the other extreme. I wrote a song made only of a sequence of power chords. I didn't bother about the keys or chord extensions, I just needed to write a song from start to finish, for the sake of it. And it work.

I might not be in line at all with what you're going through but consider this possibility. I also believe 100% of the time the block comes from your mindset not your playing abilities, unless you're a beginner which is not the case here.
#12
I've recently had a bit of writers block. I found that I was forcing myself to play, even though nothing sounded right. I took a couple of weeks off from playing guitar, but was still going to gigs, taking in new music, and being inspired by new things, then i picked up my guitar the other day and had a really great improve session and wrote the start to a new song. Sometimes you just gotta take a break from it.

Having said that, there have been times when I've just tried to power through and ended up writing some good shit too, so it's really down to whatever works for you.
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