#1
How do you like what you write? I've read Effortless Mastery, but I still hate my own music. Granted, when I'm jamming with my band or just playing some blues and metal in my bedroom, I'm in the groove, I'm feeling it, loving it, but when it comes to composing and putting together my own songs, I can't stand it. Lately I've been obsessed with this one finger-picked song I'm writing (file requires Guitar Pro 5), and as much as I like it, I also absolutely can't stand it. It sounds mediocre.

It isn't that my knowledge of theory is awful, or my technique is bad, or that my creativity is weak. It's just the fact that everything I put out, to my ears, sounds awful. I then start comparing it to my favorite songs, and I start to subconsciously rip off ideas, and when I realize what I've done, it pisses me off and I remove it.

I don't normally ask for advice for things like this because, quite frankly, I like to think that I know well enough how to deal with problems on my own. But I will admit that this is bugging me beyond my ability to comprehend or control. I love to cover songs but I have always been about writing original songs, and for months now I've wanted to upload something, yet nothing I put out is good enough. Argh.

I just got back from taking about a week break from guitar, and it was all good for a few days and then it just went to **** again. But, besides a break, what would you guys suggest? Am I being too critical of myself and thus turning my songwriting into a mechanical thing rather than a flowing spiritual thing? Should I start smoking weed just to like my own music? Tomorrow night I jam with my friend, who is a bassist. I'll see if he can come up with any ideas to help me chill out and actually like my stuff.

Thanks everyone.
#2
Dont worry if your ripping ideas off other people. Everyone does it, its how music evolves. Its how theory evolved. Not even hendrix was original, the first time I heard red house I thought it was a muddy waters song (I was young *flameshield prepared*).

The best way to boost my creativity, I've found, is actually to listen to music. Or, if not, absorb some other artistry and try to apply it to music. I wrote a pirate song straight after finishing the pirates of the carribean movie .
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#3
i've been where you are. there's a stage in one's growth as a songwriter where you have all the tools you need (equipment, technique, determination, etc) but my songs were just lame-sounding. Granted, i never hated my own material, it was just that i could tell i wasn't doing anything all that spectacular yet.

your best bet is to just keep writing, in whatever capacity you can. Write riffs one by one with no intention of making them into songs. Or write complete song after complete song, whether they're good or not, so that you can get into the habit of constantly writing and trying new ideas in your writing.

a couple people recommended listening to more music. that's a great idea. i also recommend you listen to guitarists that you normally avoid or have not gotten into because you're currently obsessed with one or two players and are stuck trying to match their creativity / style... they all got their ideas from listening to other players too. That brings me to the next point... don't worry about taking ideas from others. There are only 12 notes and 24 frets... duplication in inevitable. As long as you don't steal someone's riff note for note, bend for bend, tone for tone, you'll be just fine.

another good idea is to simplify things. If you actually study up on most great / popular guitar songs, they're little more that a simple power-chord-based verse and chorus, maybe with a catchy chord turnaround in the chorus, an intro / bridge riff that's usually a 4 or 5-note pentatonic melody repeated for a few bars with minor variations, and depending on the band, maybe a ripping guitar solo. Even if you haven't got the chops to solo, it should still be well within your realm to string a few chords together and add a pentatonic riff.

but the best advice i can give you is this: write lyrics that mean something to you. Use guitar sounds that make you think of something. It's a bit hard to explain, but sometimes you can hit a chord or series of notes on the guitar that IMMEDIATELY make you think of something from your past, or something that's always been in your mind for whatever reason, or something someone said to you once, etc etc etc... when that happens, REMEMBER what you were playing and keep playing it. When music jars your brain into going someplace it wouldn't normally go, that's when you're on to something. Chances are good that if a tune makes YOU think, it will make others think.

as for taking up weed to make you like your music... bad idea. weed is great, but you shouldn't start a habit like that if you INTEND to use it as a crutch. My position on weed + music is this: weed is helpful (but by no means essential) when you are writing alone, or when you are jamming in a relaxed situation with bandmates. i often find that weed puts me in a place where i can listen to the rest of the band easily, and can focus on individual sections of the groove very easily. I also find that i helps me to be able to closely analyze my picking and fretting techniques. Weed can help me write one riff, but not a whole song. If i come with a brilliant riff when i'm baked, it seems that the rest of the song comes out when i'm sober again.
Last edited by frigginjerk at Dec 8, 2007,
#4
How about you let your fellow musicians hear your creations (before deleting them) and ask them to give critical advice. If they like it you're in the green, and if they think it's a little unoriginal you've got to think of it in another way. The bands you listen to aren't signed for nothing.
#5
Mud Martian, I do not like anything I write but it has taken me a long time to come to solace with the fact that I am creating music for other peoples enjoyment. I play for my audience and slowly, through feedback I have gained more confidence in my playing ability and my music. Some things I come up with, I like a little bit. I am never satisfied. A lot of things, I plain hate them, but it doesnt stop me from putting my music "out there" and letting people listen to it.

The only way to learn is to get constructive criticisms back. Find what works, use it. If something doesnt work, tweak it. Its a learning curve and everyone goes through it.
Sat in a lab, curing diseases. They actually LET me play with chemicals!
#6
You can never be satisfied with your music. If that day came, you would stop trying. Certainly people manage to convince themselves that they like what they wrote. Either way, accept that it is not perfect, finish the song and write another.
#7
Have trusted friends (both musicians and non-) critique your music for you. If they like it, you'll know that it isn't bad. If they say, "Oh, that part sounded kind of off," then that might be what you dislike and just don't know it. Sometimes you need an outside opinion to help you, to kind of give you a different perspective.

Ultimately, it's good to be critical of your own music, because then you'll always try. However, having a straight-up negative attitude about it is no good.
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#8
You may want to keep in mind that the famous Russian late-romantic Rachmaninoff hated his own music.

An important thing to keep in mind when you are composing, is knowing for what instrument your composing for. It sounds obvious but when you begin composing music it's not very hard to forget about the uniqueness of your instrument and have your music lose it's character. Remember that you are playing that piece of the music on the guitar for a reason.
#9
Quote by demonofthenight
Dont worry if your ripping ideas off other people. Everyone does it, its how music evolves. Its how theory evolved. Not even hendrix was original, the first time I heard red house I thought it was a muddy waters song (I was young *flameshield prepared*).

The best way to boost my creativity, I've found, is actually to listen to music. Or, if not, absorb some other artistry and try to apply it to music. I wrote a pirate song straight after finishing the pirates of the carribean movie .


Haha, Red House is one of my favorite songs by Jimi Hendrix. Don't worry though, I won't flame ya, 'cause I also like Muddy Waters and I think Jimi Hendrix would take that as a compliment. This is helpful advice. I've always had some great ideas for songs that were inspired by everything from video games, to artwork, to movies, to things I've seen on the street, but I've always though it would be silly to make a song out of it. From now on I'll accept any and all inspiration.

Quote by frigginjerk
snip


A long post but a very helpful one! I think I need to start listening to more music, maybe load up some Jazz, Classical, or go beyond that and find some off-the-wall stuff. Because lately I've been obsessed with Jerry Cantrell, Jimmy Page, and Jon Schaffer (why am I so attracted to guitarists with "J" names?), so I find myself comparing my music to theirs, and, well, that's not a good thing to do.

I'm not a bad guitarist, and when it comes time to solo, I can hold my own. But I try to keep my music simple at the core. I also sing, so keeping certain parts simple is necessary if I want to be able to sing over it without losing the groove.

But thanks, this boosted my confidence quite a bit.

Quote by frankv
How about you let your fellow musicians hear your creations (before deleting them) and ask them to give critical advice. If they like it you're in the green, and if they think it's a little unoriginal you've got to think of it in another way. The bands you listen to aren't signed for nothing.


Yeah, I've gotten the thumbs-up from several musicians that I trust (one of them being my aforementioned bassist friend, who constantly rips off Metallica . . . But I trust his opinion anyway). As for non-musicians, well, I've never heard anything bad. Most people say they like it and in rare circumstances they'll say it's awesome, but never bad. So I suppose I've got a thumbs-up from the non-musicians I trust, too. So I should probably start thinking more like they do.

I can't respond to everyone individually, but thanks for all the help! I got more than I was looking for, and some ideas for what I need to do to, at the very least, tolerate my music. Thanks again.
#10
Write something and put it away for a few weeks, open it back up and see how you feel about the piece.
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#11
I always like writing with other people more. I like all the stuff me and my friend Tym have written, but half the crap I write I scrap. More than half.
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