Hi all,

I'm getting back into writing music after taking a bit of a break from it (it was frying my brain). I generally enjoy coming up with music, plus it helps me work on my theory. So, long story short I decided on C minor and decided to play with a i - IV - iv - i - III - VII progression. After playing the chords and playing some lead ideas over it, I started to wonder ...How can I make a song with this? My first instinct is to arpeggiate as such:

(it's a half step down but I treat it as if it is standard)

       E  E  E  E   E  E  E  E   

  E  E  E  E  E  E  E  E   

  E  E  E  E   E  E  E  E   

  E  E  E  E  E  E  E  E     

Okay, a nice clean guitar sound with a bit of chorus, it sounds like a decent intro, maybe. I lay down some bass and layer an acoustic guitar playing the chords in the background to support the arpeggios (in GP5). And then I'm sitting back and listening to it, and liking it, but ultimately feeling like it's missing something. It feels unoriginal, and the music I write generally falls in the heavy metal / alternative genre (heavy but melodic), which I don't feel this falls under at all. I feel like it's meant to lead into something heavier, but something in the foundation is weak and keeping it from growing.

I suppose what I'm asking is, how do you structure a song and keep it strong to the end? How do you keep it interesting and stand out? Anyone can pick up those chords and arpeggiate them the way I have. I imagine what really needs to happen is the bass should help define the chords while a lead guitar plays a melody that follows those chords. And I'll try that. But I could definitely use some guidance as to what sort of theory knowledge I'm missing or ignorant to that would help me out here, OR is it just my lack of creativity? (Which I think it is.)

Thanks for your replies and any ideas you may have.
I say stray away from the typical progression. Try harmonizing with every chord that falls onto that scale, and some that dont. Experiment. Now, more specifically to your question, there are a lot of musical forms. A popular one is ternary form (A-B-A) Minor, Relative Major, Minor. But other than that, write however it comes out, don't try to to really rely on a certain form.

I have the same problem, although it's not with form, just with material. If you write down a bar's worth of music that satisfies you by the end of the night, then it's all worth it.

EDIT: Maybe try a really simple progression during the not-so-tense parts, but break out the really ballsy chord progressions during the part which is meant to be the heaviest.
I'm not a theory expert, but when I write music, I don't strictly follow rules. What I do is get down a basic skeleton, like you have there. Then play it back on a loop, listen closely and play some riffs on your guitar/keyboard/whatever along with it. Sometimes I'll even just whistle or sing riffs. Imagine where you want the music to go. Try playing through different scales you think will fit. Or just play what your ear tends to like, not worrying about what scale you are in. Try everything. It's not gonna come to you right away, or maybe it will. When you think of something that's awesomely awesome, go with it. Definitely be creative!

But that's just me. Sorry I can't help you with the exact theory of everything, but maybe someone else can. Sometimes I find just using my ear and my imagination is the best solution.
Yeah, I went with obvious chords here, but I was trying to get a feel for the sound I wanted, you know? I think I may have to be a little more creative / experimental in what I'm writing. I used to write very atonal riffs and awkward chord progressions. I always thought that was what was holding me back, which is why I went for a simpler approach here, but I think I may go back to that awkward style.

Thanks for the responses, they are much appreciated and have helped me.