#1
Hi everyone ...

I've been using ultimate guitar for years but never took part in the community side of the site.

I've been playing guitar for about 13 years now. However I have had quite a few long breaks, meaning I'm not as good as most would be after playing for that amount of time. I've been back at it playing regularly for about 1 or 2 years now. I think the reason I've lost interest in the paSt is because I only ever play covers at home. I'll learn songs I like and play along, which can be fun etc but I don't think it's enough.... so, with that being said I've been trying to write some riff's etc so I can start to build my own material and maybe even eventually get involved with other musicians.

The reason for this post is because I can't write anything .... seriously nothing sounds good if I try to listen to someone else's music for inspiration I end up ripping their music off because I can't think of anything else to do on the fretboard. If I try to keep my mind blank and just 'doodle' around the fretboard it always sounds the same and usually I feel like I'm moving in and it of different keys because the notes don't sound right together.

I've been under the illusion for a long time that because I don't know anything about theory I can't write my own music? Is there any truth in that? Should I have an understanding of theory to know where I can and can't go on a fretboard? Or simply put am I just not creative enough to write my own stuff? I'm sure not everyone has the ability to write music etc am I just one of those people?

Any advice or opinions welcome on the subject ..

Thanks
LR
#2
Here's the thing - you don't need a fretboard to create music, you don't even need a guitar. Playing an instrument doesn't automatically make you creative, it just gives you a conduit for your ideas. However composing and creating music is a skill, and just like any other skill it needs learning. If you've only ever really played from tabs, basically just copying what others have done, then you may not really flexing those creative "muscles" much. Not that there's anything wrong with tabs or playing other people's stuff, indeed it's a vital part of growing as a musician, but how deep you go into a piece does make a big difference. You can learn a song simply by looking at a tab and approaching it as a physical exercise matching your fingers to the numbers, or you can take the time to really study it. Rather than focussing on the physical aspects of what you're doing focus on the sound; listen to how notes interact with each other, how they work with the underlying chords. The more you study this kind of thing the better you get at spotting common themes that link different songs - chord progressions, lead licks etc. Have you ever seen the Axis of Awesome four chords video?

You don't need theory to make music, but you do need a good ear and an understanding of music - theory is basically the context that makes understanding music easier. It's the common language that works for all instruments,  an Am chord is an A minor chord regardless of which instruments those notes came from. If you're not in the habit of "thinking" music then now is the time to start. I'd definitely recommend taking the time to watch this video series - it's not exactly about theory but it should give you some inspiration and pointers on how to listen to music more intently.
Actually called Mark!

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#4
Music Theory is basically tools to reverse engineer songs, in other words to see how there put together.
that's really the best way to look at Music Theory.  imho