#1
w

Everytime I go to write a song...I dont know what to do - I use Ableton v7 to record my stuff and normally begin by writing a drum loop in to play to - I try to strum my guitar or pick it in the pattern Ive written on ableton - I often find this very hard but if I dont do it this way my chord progressions/arpeggios sound dull and samey. Either way the chords I use always sound flat and boring and I cant make up riffs very well either - I normally end up arpeggiating a boring chord progression.

Please. Can somebody help me get out of this rut. I wanna be able to write acoustic songs like pearl jam and rock songs like the pumpkins and metal songs like deftones and tool.

Many thanks for listening anyway
#2
Learn some music theory.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#3
Quote by The_Sophist
Learn some music theory.


Thanks but I know a fair bit - that doesnt really help with inspiration though
#4
Quote by dough boy
w

Everytime I go to write a song...I dont know what to do - I use Ableton v7 to record my stuff and normally begin by writing a drum loop in to play to - I try to strum my guitar or pick it in the pattern Ive written on ableton - I often find this very hard but if I dont do it this way my chord progressions/arpeggios sound dull and samey. Either way the chords I use always sound flat and boring and I cant make up riffs very well either - I normally end up arpeggiating a boring chord progression.

Please. Can somebody help me get out of this rut. I wanna be able to write acoustic songs like pearl jam and rock songs like the pumpkins and metal songs like deftones and tool.

Many thanks for listening anyway


How many songs do you have memorized/ can play authentically all the way through ?
shred is gaudy music
#5
If your chord progressions are boring use your theory to spice them up. Use extended chords, suspended chords, things like that.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#6
thanks for your help guys. Anyone got any advice on song structure - rhythm guitar relationship to drum beats?
#7
Don't try to force a song. Wait until you have inspiration for a riff or melody or something.
#8
Quote by dough boy
thanks for your help guys. Anyone got any advice on song structure - rhythm guitar relationship to drum beats?


song structure:
learn some songs and analyze their structure. Decide for yourself what is best for your song.

guitar relation to drum beats:
play in time with the drums

keep in mind that most of your questions will be answered by listening to and playing music, and if your ready for it... studying music via theory. If your not ready for theory, you can still make your own observations on the music you are familiar with.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 6, 2008,
#9
Quote by werty22
Don't try to force a song. Wait until you have inspiration for a riff or melody or something.


This is correct.
#11
try coming up with the guitar first
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#12
Try taking a break and listening to some music you've never heard before to keep things fresh, that always helps if you're stuck in a rut - maybe go without no music at all for a few days and just watch your newly inspired fingers itch.
#13
Quote by werty22
Don't try to force a song. Wait until you have inspiration for a riff or melody or something.


That is excellent advice. The best way to choke is to basically say "this is serious! I'm going to write a song now!". And of course, nothing comes.

The other thing I would suggest is to make yourself a page of blank tab with gp or power tab. Print out a bunch of copies and set them down by your guitar. Then whenever you are messing around and come up with something that sounds cool (even if it's just a few notes), stop for a moment and tab it out. Otherwise you will forget the cool sounding fragments.

As time passes and you build up (and retain) more ideas, you'll start seeing how some of them might fit together, then you are on your way.
#14
Quote by werty22
Don't try to force a song. Wait until you have inspiration for a riff or melody or something.

100% correct, but sometimes when I'm in the mood to write, but just can't come up with a riff, i get a backing track, and solo until I just stumble upon a lick that I just create and like, and then I build off of that. I make it longer or shorter, and also take it up or down a octave or put it in a diff key, and thats how I come up with me riffs.
Peta, talking to the dead, stranger danger, alt. medicine, the war on drugs, recycling, esp, conspiracy theories, and gun control are all BULLSHIT...if you've seen the show you know what I'm talking about.
#15
Quote by werty22
Don't try to force a song. Wait until you have inspiration for a riff or melody or something.


I advise the opposite approach. Relying on some fleeting and sporadic idea is a terribly inefficient way to write music. Before I even begin writing I develop a clear and detailed idea in my head of the type of mood and atmosphere I want to create or communicate with a piece of music. I've gone so far as to plat graphs detailing the rise and fall of tension and other aspects of the music throughout the song. Afterward, I'll start deciding on something slightly more concrete, like the structure of the piece, or the method I'll use to develop the main theme (which I generally haven't written yet). Only once I have the entire structure of the song planned out will I add the "decorations" like melody.

Musicians tend to have this ridiculous idea in their heads that they are each creative geniuses, and that the only thing keeping them from writing a masterpiece is some sort of writer's block, or a lack of "inspiration". The plain truth is that songwriting is a skill like any other, one that needs to be developed through hard work and practice, and that if you can't write something, the problem is that you're just not very good at it. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be fixed.

A song is like any other structure. When a structure like an ornate, Gothic Church is being built, one doesn't start with elaborate stonework, lifelike statues, and stained glass. Before anything else is considered, the foundation and shape of the building must be established. The idea that a song is going to pop into your head, fully formed, with both rhythm, melody, and harmony, is absurd, not only because this will almost never happen, but because, if it did, it would be to much information to process at one time. Starting from the ground up, and proceeding consciously and deliberately not only allows you the opportunity to consider every aspect of the song, but allows you the opportunity to consider each element individually without trying (and failing) to maintain five different trains of thought at once.

So I recommend not relying on something like "inspiration", but approaching songwriting like you would any other project, and proceeding from the ground up, taking time to consider and consciously work out each element of piece.
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.
#16
I can imagine that approach could work well for a progressive rock song or a jazz or classical piece, but TS is probably just trying to write a rock song.

Songs don't necessarily "pop into one's head fully formed," but it's easy to add harmony to a melody.
#17
Quote by Archeo Avis
I advise the opposite approach. Relying on some fleeting and sporadic idea is a terribly inefficient way to write music. Before I even begin writing I develop a clear and detailed idea in my head of the type of mood and atmosphere I want to create or communicate with a piece of music. I've gone so far as to plat graphs detailing the rise and fall of tension and other aspects of the music throughout the song. Afterward, I'll start deciding on something slightly more concrete, like the structure of the piece, or the method I'll use to develop the main theme (which I generally haven't written yet). Only once I have the entire structure of the song planned out will I add the "decorations" like melody.

Musicians tend to have this ridiculous idea in their heads that they are each creative geniuses, and that the only thing keeping them from writing a masterpiece is some sort of writer's block, or a lack of "inspiration". The plain truth is that songwriting is a skill like any other, one that needs to be developed through hard work and practice, and that if you can't write something, the problem is that you're just not very good at it. Fortunately, this is a problem that can be fixed.

A song is like any other structure. When a structure like an ornate, Gothic Church is being built, one doesn't start with elaborate stonework, lifelike statues, and stained glass. Before anything else is considered, the foundation and shape of the building must be established. The idea that a song is going to pop into your head, fully formed, with both rhythm, melody, and harmony, is absurd, not only because this will almost never happen, but because, if it did, it would be to much information to process at one time. Starting from the ground up, and proceeding consciously and deliberately not only allows you the opportunity to consider every aspect of the song, but allows you the opportunity to consider each element individually without trying (and failing) to maintain five different trains of thought at once.

So I recommend not relying on something like "inspiration", but approaching songwriting like you would any other project, and proceeding from the ground up, taking time to consider and consciously work out each element of piece.
Oh god that was awesome. Cold and cynical, exactly what I'd expect from Archeo. You sir win this thread.

Except I'd say the melody needs to be written first and than everything else is the decorations. Melody is by far the most important aspect of music. Followed closely by rhthym and than harmony (chords and accompaniment.) It's what makes a song original.

Also, T/S, how are you writing your melodies? Are you using enough repetion? Are you varying the repetions in your phrases?
#18
my advice, find a reasonably quiet place, sit down with your guit and play random stuff till something comes up. Theres your music.

In the mean time, if you ever get a line that sounds good,any line at all, write it down, when you have enough for a song, group them, alter them if necessary, then work it out.
#19
i disagree with Archeo highly here. i often have times where entire songs pop into my head all at once, in fact my only issue is trying to get everything recorded/written down while its still in my mind. i will agree that songwriting is a skill, my first 100 songs or so from way back when were awful for the most part but the more i did it the better i got at it.
#20
Heres a simple exercise.

Try coming up with a simple chord progression 3 or 4 chords apart from the tonic that lead into the V chord. (Yes the V chord). Let's say it's a three chord progression and we will label it Y Z V since I don't know the chords you will use in your progression other than that the last chord will be the V chord.

Right that's your progression. Now keep it handy cause we'll need it soon.

Now before your progression you are going to oscillate back and forth between the tonic and one other chord (any chord) it might be the V chord or the IV chord or the first chord (Y) of your progression.
Then after so many rounds of oscillating you play your progression through once ending on the V before resolving back to the start of the oscillation.

Final result might look like this...
progression = Y Z V
oscillation = I V

....................v--Oscillation--v v-Progression-v
All together = | I / V / | I / V / | I / Y / | Z / V / | repeat

Very simple. But effective. The oscillating part or the static part of the harmony will create a good sense of stability. The progression or dynamic part of the harmony will provide movement and interest.

Next you might want to embellish some of that oscillating part, maybe draw out some kind of riff from the whole thing or substituting with extended and inverted chords to develop some melodic ideas over that part of the harmony.

After dressing the static harmony up a bit try working on the dynamic harmony. Again the same ideas - maybe a riff based on those chordal changes or you might try drawing out the cadence by extending the V chord, maybe with a V7. You might try oscillating for a bar or two between the V and viidim. Or maybe a secondary dominant will do the trick (V II7 V7) back to the tonic or simply holding the V cord longer and suspending the resolve.

Then you could try creating some sort of dynamic introduction. Try reharmonizing the progression or creating some kind of shorter variation on a riff or the main progression to use as an introduction.

Then there are an endless number of ways you can start mixing things up to extend the passage or join it up with another different passage through using different cadences or by modulating to another key such as the relative minor.

This is rather formulaic but so what. The point is to help you get out of the rut. This can provide a basic structure upon which you can build your masterpiece. This same structure has served music well over the centuries so why not you?

I read a paper in which the guy basically described this same basic formula as the fundamental underlying harmonic syntax for all classical music. I don't know how true that was but it was a PHD paper and I only had access to a summarized version (which was pretty detailed). Besides for our purpose that's not important. We just want to start making good sounding music again.

There are a whole bunch of formula's that can be used to create a song's structure. If anyone else would like to share a formula they love to use -I'd be interested.
Si