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#1
Hey guys! I've been trying really hard for a long time to write a song or even just a riff or lick to expand into a song with no success. I have been playing for about 4 1/2 years and I play mostly Guns N' Roses kinda stuff. I also like blues and stuff but anything I do, I just can't make a song...

Any tips, UG?
#5
Learning music theory will help you greatly when you try to write. I'd recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory.

What do you define as "the basics"?
Quote by aguynamedlarry
E-A-B

/thread

No. I-IV-V is common, but it's not "/thread" at all.
#7
Quote by :-D
Learning music theory will help you greatly when you try to write. I'd recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory.

What do you define as "the basics"?

No. I-IV-V is common, but it's not "/thread" at all.


Not really sure, I basically don't know much
#8
Yes, I'd recommend learning some music theory in that case. Once you learn the basics of diatonic harmony, songwriting will become much easier.
#9
Quote by :-D
Yes, I'd recommend learning some music theory in that case. Once you learn the basics of diatonic harmony, songwriting will become much easier.


Ok, thanks a lot, I have the music theory book by Tom Kolb... Is that ok?
#12
It's a descriptive tool; you're going to learn how different musical ideas relate, which in turn will allow you to create the specific sounds you desire.
#15
millions of people in the world play guitar perhaps hundreds of millions.

so why arent they all famous? I see guys so good at guitar they cover canon rock and no boundaries on youtube all the time. but their not famous. why?

because song writing is a unique talent or skill. playing an instrument doesnt mean you can make music. some people are born with song writing ability, some arent. i happen to not be, but ive been doing some soul searching trying.

my suggestion, use theory as a backbone but use it as little as possible, real creativity doesnt belong in any one scale, after that just start writing down every thought or lyric you can think of, mess around with your guitar, learn alot of chords. take a few play them in any order and sing to them. also smoke alot of marijuana.
If you dont find theory interesting, then DONT study it. IF your TRULY serious about playing guitar(enjoying), then EVENTUALLY you WILL WANT to study it.
#16
Quote by Manjinken
my suggestion, use theory as a backbone but use it as little as possible, real creativity doesnt belong in any one scale, after that just start writing down every thought or lyric you can think of, mess around with your guitar, learn alot of chords. take a few play them in any order and sing to them. also smoke alot of marijuana.

So you're suggesting that instead of applying theoretical concepts, he should just screw around while smoking pot. That's how Mozart got started, right?
#17

because song writing is a unique talent or skill. playing an instrument doesnt mean you can make music. some people are born with song writing ability, some arent. i happen to not be, but ive been doing some soul searching trying.


Ridiculous. Genes code for proteins, not song writing. Song writing is a skill like any other that needs to be developed through practice.

my suggestion, use theory as a backbone but use it as little as possible, real creativity doesnt belong in any one scale, after that just start writing down every thought or lyric you can think of, mess around with your guitar, learn alot of chords. take a few play them in any order and sing to them. also smoke alot of marijuana.


You don't know what music theory is.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#18
Quote by Milaneus
Hey guys! I've been trying really hard for a long time to write a song or even just a riff or lick to expand into a song with no success. I have been playing for about 4 1/2 years and I play mostly Guns N' Roses kinda stuff. I also like blues and stuff but anything I do, I just can't make a song...

Any tips, UG?



along with looking into theory, keep in mind that you CAN write music right now.

A couple of questions though...

you have been playing for 4 1/2 years right..... how many songs do you have memorized that you can play ?

If you know alot of songs then you have something to go on. You can study those songs to get ideas, and you should be inspired by them if you learned them in the 1st place.

to write music be creative, Use your ears, and try to come up with something that sounds good to you. You have to work on it, it doesnt always come right away. You might start with trying to come up with a chord progression. Start with 1 chord.... see what chord sounds good next, and build from there.

so dont think that you "cant" write music. If you like listening to it, and can already play other peoples songs, its just a matter of getting creative and working at it a bit. Studying music theory will help as well, but the results will happen a little later when you learn enough of it to apply it creatively. I would definitely study it if you can, but don't put off being creative, you can do that right now.
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 3, 2008,
#20
music theory. But sit down when you feel inspirered. If I'm in a good mood, melodies and riffs just pop out of my head.
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#21
Yesterday I saw a post that made me think

I quote:

Know your theory then play like you don't.

That's great!

I know a little theory and it does help with crreativity. Just messing around within the perimeters of the chord scales can help you come up with nice melodies. I wrote two songs this way!
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#22
Quote by Jay Gatsby
Yesterday I saw a post that made me think

I quote:

Know your theory then play like you don't.

That's great!

I know a little theory and it does help with crreativity. Just messing around within the perimeters of the chord scales can help you come up with nice melodies. I wrote two songs this way!


true, but joe satriani doesn't sit there pick a random scale and say "okay guys you play these chords, and i'll just play some modes over this." he sits there and just plays and finds some really cool sounding stuff, mind you he might eventually say "bah, no one will mind if i take a chord from the G major scale." my teacher said to me once "learn as much theory as you can, but forget it when you play."
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Pffffffft schematics


Although i guess the OP will have to get used to reading them if he's going to buy a bugera..
Quote by gregs1020


along with fire escape routes...

#23
Quote by Milaneus
ok, I was wondering though, earlier I was thinking about learning music theory, but i'm just curious, how is it going to help me with songwriting? :P


It'll help in exactly the same way that learning things like spelling and grammar help you write a story

Check out the Crusade articles in the columns section...

http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?s=crusade&w=columns
Actually called Mark!

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#24
Quote by Jay Gatsby
Know your theory then play like you don't.
You and whoever said that dont know what theory is. Formal theory just describes music, like a musical language. Non-formal theory is just what sounds good over what and when and so on.

Theory does not restrict your creativity, theory does not make what you write sound "formed" and restricted. That only happens when people start thinking that theory is a set of rules.


Quote by Archeo Avis
Ridiculous. Genes code for proteins, not song writing. Song writing is a skill like any other that needs to be developed through practice.
+1

But I'm pretty sure he was trolling.
#25
Quote by demonofthenight
You and whoever said that dont know what theory is. Formal theory just describes music, like a musical language. Non-formal theory is just what sounds good over what and when and so on.

Theory does not restrict your creativity, theory does not make what you write sound "formed" and restricted. That only happens when people start thinking that theory is a set of rules.


To "know your theory and play like you don't" implies playing pure atonal music, ensuring every note is either dissonant or destabilises the underlying chords...which is arguably an even more impressive skill, because for any piece of music there's always more potential right notes than wrong ones.

Knowing your theory just means you have a good understanding of how notes work together and what sounds good...why wouldn't you want that to come across in your playing?
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
#26
Quote by :-D
So you're suggesting that instead of applying theoretical concepts, he should just screw around while smoking pot. That's how Mozart got started, right?

Hey man, it can work for some people...

But seriously, I got into song writing without really knowing any theory. All I really knew was how to write a progression based on intervals, how to stay in key, harmonize, stuff like that (edit: I suppose you could call that basic theory). To be honest, I wrote some of my favorite stuff when I first started out.

Guitar Pro is a useful tool for guitarists that want to get into songwriting. You can pick a scale and have all the appropriate notes appear on the virtual fretboard so you can stay in key, if that's a difficulty for you.
#27
Quote by Milaneus
Ok, thanks a lot, I have the music theory book by Tom Kolb... Is that ok?


I think you are referring to the book that I have, and yes it is very good. However I would recommend not learning directly from it like a textbook, but using lots of other resources. Internet is where I've learned the most from, by far, but the book was great for clarifying some concepts.

Two very useful websites:
Theory lessons
Guitar noise

Guitar noise is not so much for technical theory as such, but actual songwriting advice. Some of the columns are very interesting and I found them really motivating.
Hope I helped
#28
I said know your theory then play like you don't. Actually, someone probably said it before me, but in this particular instance I'm the one quoted.

What I meant was, theory is meant to help you get what's in your head out and written down, not to be a material with which you construct music.

It's called music theory for a reason. Everyone would do well to remember that.
#29
You can get books or surf the net for quick chord progressions.
Mess around with a progression with different picking patterns,stumming..etc.
Pick a druming loop pattern as you wish and jam to it..then perhapes come up with
a backing track

google chords and scales. Punch in a scale you havn't heard of before.
Such as Kumio2...whatever that is
It's.... 1,b2,4,5,b6
Mess around with this for a while.

Or the Nine tone scale...whatever this is
1,2,#2,3,#4,5,#5,6,7

mess with this for a while and try to write this scale into a chord progression
or write a song from this scale.

The posisbilties are endless.
Last edited by Ordinary at May 3, 2008,
#30
Quote by steven seagull
To "know your theory and play like you don't" implies playing pure atonal music, ensuring every note is either dissonant or destabilises the underlying chords...which is arguably an even more impressive skill,

Agreed; I'd be very impressed if someone were to play a completely atonal piece.
Quote by Wonthefu
help you get what's in your head out and written down, not to be a material with which you construct music.

When you get your musical ideas down on paper, aren't you "constructing" music?
#31
Quote by Wonthefu
I said know your theory then play like you don't. Actually, someone probably said it before me, but in this particular instance I'm the one quoted.

What I meant was, theory is meant to help you get what's in your head out and written down, not to be a material with which you construct music.

It's called music theory for a reason. Everyone would do well to remember that.


yeah I've heard that quote (or similar) by many people, many times. Always by people that were older, experienced, and that knew theory.

the idea is esssentially: learn theory (understand it) , but play music (express yourself artistically).

It has nothing to do with atonal music. A quote like this isnt meant to be taken so literally. (or so I've been told by those older and more experienced than me)

I've also heard someone say it like " learn everything then forget it and just make music".
again, they dont mean it literally. Your not going to forget everything you learned. Its just when it comes time to make music, the focus is on the art.
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 3, 2008,
#34
learn chord progressions then lean the scales that match the chords, then make a riff along the scales that lands on the correct chord with its corresponding scale.
just make what you feel.
or just take riffs that you like and variate them change the key and change the speed and combine them with others it make your own
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#35
As .wav files , it's around 80-90bm per song for the master mix.
it's only 4-5mb if I convert it to mp3
it's around a 400-500mb depending how many tracks I make.
The song will also sound different depending how I mix it.
So I still have to store the original tracks as .wav files

Sometimes I get close to what I've hear in my head.
Sometimes not. Sometimes I play according to the guidelines,
but it dosn't feel right or sound right..so i just do whatever sounds
or feel right. I can hear it on the playback.

Hearing myself on play back is very important, becuase as I play
I think it sounds okay..but it's not. So I make minor corrections
after hearing myself on play back.

Theory helps of couse becuase I have to wirte the rythem, base line and drums too.
Harmonizing sounds good..but i still have to mix it up.
I pratice wirting songs in different keys/pitch, movment, style, tempo.
becuase i don't like painting same picture. Plus if you listen to 4-5
of my songs they're not going to all sound the same and boring,
even thou if you hear my playing you'll know it's me.
#36
Quote by Archeo Avis
Ridiculous. Genes code for proteins, not song writing. Song writing is a skill like any other that needs to be developed through practice.


actually, proteins are coded into genes.

and to actually be able to write music, you need good memory to remember what notes sound like, without dumbly playing all over the place trying to find something. also, you need creativity, which is linked to intelligence. memory and intelligence are both aspects of the brain, which is built according to the genes you were born with. i submit, therefore, that certain people ARE born with songwriting ability.

however, it IS a skill that can be trained and practiced like any other. and just because you aren't "born" with songwriting ability, doesn't mean that you can't become an excellent songwriter. /offtopic

that being said, i think you would do well to learn more theory. i'm starting to delve into it myself, and finding it to be a revelation. i just wish i had paid more attention to it when i was a teenager and taking lessons.
I wish my lawn was Emo so it would cut itself.

If at first you DO succeed, try not to look so astonished.
#37
actually, proteins are coded into genes.


...and the function of a gene is?

and to actually be able to write music, you need good memory to remember what notes sound like, without dumbly playing all over the place trying to find something. also, you need creativity, which is linked to intelligence. memory and intelligence are both aspects of the brain, which is built according to the genes you were born with. i submit, therefore, that certain people ARE born with songwriting ability.


Synaptic connections are formed and maintained through experience.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#38
Quote by Archeo Avis
...and the function of a gene is?


Synaptic connections are formed and maintained through experience.



I have to agree. You may be born with the ability (the intelligence and musical aptitude) but exposure to music is key. If you never experience music, you wont likely write music.
#39
Along with the tips already given, don't just sit down and try to write a song. Just let it all happen. If you're in a new tuning, it's incredibly easy to come up with something new. Just base things on licks that you jam on frequently. You will eventually come up with something new, and remember not to force it.
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#40
Quote by Archeo Avis
...and the function of a gene is?


to determine the structure of the body as it grows, including musculature and brain development. ever heard of innate ability, aptitude, or predisposition?

Quote by Archeo Avis
Synaptic connections are formed and maintained through experience.


did you just happen to miss the third paragraph of my post?
I wish my lawn was Emo so it would cut itself.

If at first you DO succeed, try not to look so astonished.
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