#1
I seriously need help here...

I want to write my own songs (the guitar part), but I have NO idea where to start... I can't even make a simple riff. I don't come up with a melody and when I'm trying to make something it's just a bunch of power chords that doesn't fit with each other.

Where should I start? It's so borging to learn songs from bands as it's so easy...

All help will be appreciated
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#2
i am suffering from this too right now actually...i feel your pain. i have loads of lyrics that are not half bad....but power chords guitar parts. im seriously working on trying to get even some mediocre riffs in my head to try...but i get almost nothing.
#3
I find the best thing to do in your situation is to use the SEARCHBAR technique
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#4
the best thing you can do is to play with other people. Especially a drummer, if you're going to play rock music, it's best to have a drummer that plays rock music. When you've got a drummer who can keep a steady 4/4 beat, pick a tonal centre, and then just mess around with it. Use techniques from musicians you like, if you like Frusciante, use funk techniques like muted strum techniques, if you like Jimi Hendrix, use your thumb to play bass notes while using your other four fingers on the higher strings. Start off simple with a 6 or 8 bar repeating phrase, it gets easier when you practice a lot.
#5
Quote by farcry
the best thing you can do is to play with other people. Especially a drummer, if you're going to play rock music, it's best to have a drummer that plays rock music. When you've got a drummer who can keep a steady 4/4 beat, pick a tonal centre, and then just mess around with it. Use techniques from musicians you like, if you like Frusciante, use funk techniques like muted strum techniques, if you like Jimi Hendrix, use your thumb to play bass notes while using your other four fingers on the higher strings. Start off simple with a 6 or 8 bar repeating phrase, it gets easier when you practice a lot.

Well I don't have a drummer, only a drum machine..

And I like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Pantera etc so it just gets open palm mutes on E and some random power chords...
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#6
Quote by farcry
the best thing you can do is to play with other people. Especially a drummer, if you're going to play rock music, it's best to have a drummer that plays rock music. When you've got a drummer who can keep a steady 4/4 beat, pick a tonal centre, and then just mess around with it. Use techniques from musicians you like, if you like Frusciante, use funk techniques like muted strum techniques, if you like Jimi Hendrix, use your thumb to play bass notes while using your other four fingers on the higher strings. Start off simple with a 6 or 8 bar repeating phrase, it gets easier when you practice a lot.


Yeah, I find it's always easier to write music with other musicians. If you can find people to just jam with...You'll be surprised at the stuff you might come up with.
#7
And, how do you know in which key songs are, and in which scale soloes are??
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#8
Quote by fila_93
And, how do you know in which key songs are, and in which scale soloes are??


Well you should know scales off the top of your head...At least the basic or more common ones. That would also help greatly with your song writing.
#9
write down what notes they use at first to figure out which scales they are in, only one letter per scale(to be diatonic) as in no A and A#. Then look at the intervallic relationships between the notes to figure out which scale they use, eventually you'll have them memorized when you practice enough. Also, heavy metal bands use a lot of chromaticism meaning that they hardly ever strictly stick to the notes in a key, this goes especially for in the speedy power chord parts where the notes are lower. Learn the guitar players techniques, and try to use them in a new way, as far as a drummer goes, go make some musician friends.
#10
Whats this searchbar method?
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#12
Do you know any music theory? If you dont then its going to be 10 times harder to write music.
#13
Quote by Flow of soul
Do you know any music theory? If you dont then its going to be 10 times harder to write music.

No, I simply dion't know where to start. Scales?

It's too much to learn one scale is like 12 different chords with 20 different patterns. And there's like 40 scales...
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#14
Quote by Flow of soul
Do you know any music theory? If you dont then its going to be 10 times harder to write music.


Yup. Having a good knowledge of music theory basically takes all the guess work out of writing music.

No, I simply dion't know where to start. Scales?

It's too much to learn one scale is like 12 different chords with 20 different patterns. And there's like 40 scales...


Well you don't really HAVE to learn all the notes, just the basic shapes.
Since you listen to metal I would recommend learning the E minor scale because that would probably be the most common scale used.

Here, I'll get you started.

e|-----------------------------------------------
b|-----------------------------------------------
g|--------------------7-9-----------------------
d|-----------7-9-10----------------------------
a|--7-9-10-------------------------------------
e|------------------------------------------------

E minor scale. That is a basic E minor shape. Finger pattern- 1,3,4 1,3,4 1,3
Now you can move that minor scale all over the fretboard and whichever note is your root (or the first note you start off with) will be your new minor scale.

e|--------------------------------------------
b|--------------------------------------------
g|--------------------------------------------
d|------------------5-7----------------------
a|----------5-7-8---------------------------
e|--5-7-8-----------------------------------

This is the exact same pattern but the first note starts on A therefore this is the A minor scale.
Last edited by MetropolisPt3 at Jun 30, 2008,
#15
yeah music theory would help. don't learn it all at once because then it is too much to learn. just pick one key, like me, you like metallica so E minor is the obvious key. So, however you do it, find a book or something that shows you the notes of the fret board and only play E, F#, G, A, B, C and D. As has been said before chromaticism is acceptable. And do yourself a huge favor and NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER look at a tab again. The are horrible for learning how to play guitar (great for learning a song quickly) but they take all the structure if you will out of the song.

Also, music is A LOT of repetition so you only need one killer riff and play it over and over do a chorus, play the riff over and over do a solo and whatever else then you are done.

Learn music theory. It helps a lot and eases a lot of frustrations.
Earth without ART, is just Eh...
#16
If you have another guitarist, I find it very easily to compose riffs and stuff.
Me and my friend made a whole song within 2 hours.
#17
Quote by fila_93
No, I simply dion't know where to start. Scales?

It's too much to learn one scale is like 12 different chords with 20 different patterns. And there's like 40 scales...


Type "The Crusade" in the columns sections of UG. They are a series of articles by Josh Urban that I am learning music theory from and they are really helpful. I suggest you start there. And yes Major Scale should be your first scale.
#18
Quote by Flow of soul
Type "The Crusade" in the columns sections of UG. They are a series of articles by Josh Urban that I am learning music theory from and they are really helpful. I suggest you start there. And yes Major Scale should be your first scale.



well if he likes metallica and other metal then the major scale doesn't really do him any good. i would use the minor scale and then whenever you go back to learn more scales just raise the 3d, 6th and 7th of the minor scale to get the major. Probably reverse of what teachers would say but for song writing the minor scale if better to know.
Earth without ART, is just Eh...
#19
One thing you can do if you're ever in a riff slump is just taking something really simple and adding to it. Throwing in lead fills, or giving it a weird rhythem can do a lot. Take something like this: a I IV V progression

E-------------------------------------------------
B-------------------------------------------------
G-------------------------------------------------
D-----------------4-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-6-
A-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-
E-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2---------------------------------


Then you add in some fills and you can get something more like this:

E-----------------------------------------------7-6-4-------------------------------
B-----------------------------------------------------7-6-4-------------------------
G-----------------------------------------------------------6-4---------------------
D-----4-----5-----7-5-4-----4-4-4-4-4-4-4-4-6-6-----------------8-6-4---------------
A-4-4---4-4---4-4-------7-5-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-4-4-----------------------8-6-4---------
E-2-2---2-2---2-2-----------------------------------------------------------7-6-4-2-

Still the same old progression, only a little more unique.
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#21
Quote by metalzeppelin
well if he likes metallica and other metal then the major scale doesn't really do him any good.


Bullpockey. Learning and understanding the major scale is part of the foundation of music theory for a good reason.
This space foreclosed, due to the ailing economy.
#22
If I learned let's say C Major, could I use that shape all over the fretboard?
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#23
If you learn one position, like say
-8-10-12--
-8-10-12--
-9-10-12-
-9-10-12-
-8-10-12--
-8-10-12--
then moving it around would change the key. You have to learn the other positions. More importantly, you should also learn the notes themselves, the intervals, and what that all means.
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#24
I usually just play random things until something happens, then I run with it, or sometimes I get a melody or chord progression that I thought of stuck in my head and I'll work on that. There are really methodological ways of writing songs using applied theory to come up with chord progressions and stuff I suggest avoiding that route.

Quote by metalzeppelin
well if he likes metallica and other metal then the major scale doesn't really do him any good.


The major scale is the basis of western theory, when people talk about chords or other scales it's always relative to the major scale, so I would say the major scale is always the first thing you should learn, from there the minor scales are pretty easy.
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Last edited by Kid_Thorazine at Jul 1, 2008,
#25
Quote by Free to Guitar
If you learn one position, like say
-8-10-12--
-8-10-12--
-9-10-12-
-9-10-12-
-8-10-12--
-8-10-12--
then moving it around would change the key. You have to learn the other positions. More importantly, you should also learn the notes themselves, the intervals, and what that all means.

How do I know what all notes are called?

For example, how could I know what the 7th fret on the 5th string is calles?
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#26
Quote by metalzeppelin
well if he likes metallica and other metal then the major scale doesn't really do him any good. i would use the minor scale and then whenever you go back to learn more scales just raise the 3d, 6th and 7th of the minor scale to get the major. Probably reverse of what teachers would say but for song writing the minor scale if better to know.
You best be kidding. Major scale is good for all kinds of music. The scale does not make the genre, style or feeling of a song.

And something tells me you dont realise the difficulties of the minor scale. It's not just a matter of changing the tonal center, you have to make sure the notes and chords move/resolve right, and to do that (interestingly) takes skill.

To T/S
If your just starting to write music I would suggest you try to write simple music. Keep it in 3/4 timing and use the major scale (as it's easiest to write in). Try to write a simple singing melody and put some simple chords underneath, with the major scale obviously. And learn theory, it can only help.
#27
as said earlier, find someone who you can play with. im terrible at writting by myself(onloy a handful of riffs/songs that are currently being used), and the other guitarist in my band is much better, but not great(better at getting lyrics to go with rhythm parts). however when he comes up with a riff or melody, i improvise a rhythm or riff over it, if it sucks one of us changes and the other keeps playing the old riff/melody untill somehting clicks. sometimes its 3 or 4 steps of change for each of us and it sounds nothing like where we started but we've been able to write 20 or 30 verse/choruses that some have been put into songs, some not. but we try. biggest thing i'd say is being able to tell what the root note is that is being played, then keep something in time, not in beat, but in time with that in the same relative key. alone i cant sit there and come up with a rhythm then a 2nd part over it and be happy. i need, I NEED a live band or at least a 2nd guitar or bass to really be able to open my mind up and let things happen. i almost gave up playing cause i thought i was terrible until i just jammed with other ppl and saw how easy it can be to start piecing different parts together when your focused.

just be patient and if you have a good rhythm play it till you hate playing it to let everyone else figure out what their sound for it is. i just left my old drummer because he would never keep beat and let us just work out the kinks of a song. it was fill-solo-beat-fill-beat-fill-fill and always wanted to be the most entertained person when we were trying to write verses or help him get his part together. im sorry, song writting dosnt go like that, at least not for me. sometimes you need to play a part that might be 45 seconds long for 20 mins so everyone can get their **** figured out.

find friends or other musicians(friends are harder to kick out of the band if **** goes south) that want to do what you do and work with them. its easier than you think. 4 simple parts( guitar guitar bass drums) being played together tightly sounds much better than 1 guy trying to be jimmy page, one guy trying to be les claypool, one guy trying to be danny carey, and one guy trying to be jimi hendrix, when no one has that ability.
#28
I can share my story...about a year and a half ago I bought my first (and current) guitar, and since I couldn't afford/was too lazy to pay for lessons, I just used tabs and experimented. I also had about four years' experience drumming, about three of them with lessons. I just used garageband (I think this was a couple months after I started) and played around with really simplistic riffs and powerchords. I had no idea how to write a song, so I'd come up with maybe eight measures of something I found catchy and record it (but due to how much I sucked, recording it perfectly took quite a few tries), and I'd just keep adding parts.

Eventually I figured out the verse-chorus-verse structure (thanks to hearing the telegraphed structure of "What I've Done" by Linkin Park...can't stand that song) of songs and kept making songs on Garageband. I finally realized that I was writing my songs really mechanically, and now try to have most of it memorized before recording any of it, or just use garageband so I don't forget an idea.

Anyway, the moral of my story is that it's probably gonna take a while before you can write songs that you're happy with; lots of trial and error, and there's nothing wrong with that.
#29
Hm, I'm getting sick of making epic posts... Haha, can someone explain to this guy how to form the major scale quickly? It all branches out from there...
#30
This is how far I've gotten

I know what all the notes are called (if I think a while)
I know the E major scale and right now I'm working on 3rds and random changing direction. When I got that, I'm gonna start on four in a line and play random notes. After that I'll start on the D major scale.

Sounds good?
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#32
Quote by fila_93
This is how far I've gotten

I know what all the notes are called (if I think a while)
I know the E major scale and right now I'm working on 3rds and random changing direction. When I got that, I'm gonna start on four in a line and play random notes. After that I'll start on the D major scale.

Sounds good?

You have to learn to form scales.
Start on one note, then go up like this.

W = Whole step = 2 notes higher
H = Half step = 1 note higher

Start on any note, then go up WWHWWWH.

That forms a major scale.
Then "flat" (lower by 1 note) the third, sixth, and seventh notes to form the natural minor scale.
#33
This has been a problem for me too but I've been looking into music theory and it teaches you alot about modes and scales. It just tells you how to know what sounds right together. It worked for me.
#34
Quote by fila_93
If I learned let's say C Major, could I use that shape all over the fretboard?

Yes!

Play the C major scale, now move it up 2 frets and use the exact same pattern. That's the D major scale. Move that down a string and that's a G Major scale. That works for all keys. The only thing that can get tricky is the B string because its tuned differently than all the other strings.
#35
Learn some theory behind chord progressions as well. When you're stuck and you know what has been proven over time to work it gives you some tools to control the music you're writing to move in the direction you want it to.

"Chord progression" is a term is commonly used to refer to a sequence of chords. Technically the sequence could actually be a Chord regression or a Chord succession.
The difference? A progression has the effect of moving your song forward. A regression moves it back and a succession kind of lingers.

It's all well and good learning your scales but without understanding how they are applied to create a specific effect you will be stabbing in the dark.

Here's some common chord progressions:
1. - Up by a fourth or Down by a fifth
2. - Up by a second
3. - Down by a third

Of course these are general principles and you should try to learn how and why they work.

Any of these in reverse is called a regression

You should also learn about cadences and how they can be used to great effect in your writing.

Then once you've learned it all you can throw it out and break all the rules and when you get stuck bring it back and to save your ass. If you've seen any of my posts before you may know I can go on and on - and right now I need to get my guitar in my hands so if you want to know more about the stuff Im talkin about I'm sure someone else knows this stuff too. Or PM me.

Cheers.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jul 2, 2008,
#36
Thanks for all your help, I appreciate it!
GEAR

Dean V79
Randall RG50-TC
Roland MicroCube
#37
easy sit down with ur buddys and sing and play guitar about random things i made up a song about birds in like 10 min
STRAT-O-SONIC
#38
Don't learn it in patterns. Go research how the scale is formed, and for that you must know Major scales, whoever it was that said they weren't needed here. Once you know the scale you can learn it as a whole all over the neck and play it as you see fit. If you're feeling adventurous you can apply such knowledge to other scales and experiment with them as well, I've written bluesy songs in harmonic minor (might not be all that awesome, Idk).
Last edited by will0mon at Aug 16, 2008,