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Thread: How do you write YOUR music...???

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    Default How do you write YOUR music...???

    I write my music two different ways...

    One way that I write music is to find a good chord progression either by looking it up online or bumping into it during "chord transition practice," and just strum it out on rhythm guitar so that it has the beat & vibe that I'm looking for. I'm aware of places that need transitions and such, but there's no real focus on that at this point.

    Then I figure out a melody on lead. The melody is raw, basic, simple...somewhat like a "basic scale exercise" type of deal, but not exactly. Then I'm using altered starting/stopping points for various barres. Think of working your way up the scale and then back down using one particular basic scale drill. Dumb it down, and then start repeating notes in a way that's not done in that scale exercise at various points in the "drill." Then I'm mixing in stuff like: 3 barres up the scale, 1 barre down...then do it four times and the last barre down now resolves ("ends") on a different interval.

    Then the melody has to take me around the fretboard, keeping the need to write a vocal melody in mind. Now I'm just moving around the fretboard following that "vibe" that I created...making minor adjustments here and there to add tension and relief. To me, adding tension and relief - at this point - brings in a huge focus on the yet-unwritten vocal melody.

    Now I've got a boring piece of crap that sounds good...but is way too boring.

    Now it's time to start adding licks in the lead guitar AND fills/transitions on rhythm. This adds some interest to the song. Then it's time to figure out when to say that I've done enough, and also figure out the ending if I haven't already.

    Another version of this is to find the right amp settings that match my mood, and just start hammering out power chords. Get the strumming pattern and chord progression, and rock the casbah...with WAAAAAAAY more snort than The Clash! Then it's on to the same lead guitar writing style.

    It almost never works for me when I go the other way around: find a riff on lead and start from there...THEN find the rhythm guitar.

    I really just started writing my own music in the last couple of years, and I've got 16 songs that I need to finish and record. I've only got a few that I question...I don't keep 'em if they suck, so these might be gone someday. NONE of them have lyrics written yet.

    However, I've got two songs that I've got the concept for the lyrics down and the story to tell, along with some catchy phrases, and ideas to inspire more catchy phrases. The story I'm thinking of for them just doesn't match any music that I've written so far, so I need to come up with two more melodies. But I might be wrong; I might actually have the melody going for those two...I just need to let the lyrics hit the page and find out.

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    Administrator Mincer's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Usually I start by tossing out my first several instincts. Also I try to do something I haven't done before, or really, have heard before. Another thing I do is think about what I would like to hear but can't find anywhere. So I write that. I have also used Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards to help out of creative jams.
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    Super Toneologist justFred's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    by accident...usually noodling around and come across some little different chord formation and variations...let it simmer indefinitely...the next phase usually occurs when out and about and see something different that kinda fits this expanded riffy thing in my head...sorta try and fit this stuff together....let it simmer and sometimes somehow an actual piece of cohesive music develops...or hear something obscure from the olden days and steal it...

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    One of Jerry's Kids Securb's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Quote Originally Posted by justFred View Post
    by accident...usually noodling around and come across some little different chord formation and variations...let it simmer indefinitely...the next phase usually occurs when out and about and see something different that kinda fits this expanded riffy thing in my head...sorta try and fit this stuff together.
    I have the same process, I am a riff writer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    Another thing I do is think about what I would like to hear but can't find anywhere. So I write that.
    That's how I got started writing...my style just isn't out there: hard and heavy sludgy rhythm, SWEET non-speed metal lead, and harmonic vocals. It sounds like doom/sludge metal, but not quite, and the vocals / lyrics are totally different. More like Black Sabbath's original stuff with a modern twist, and back off on the political and/or drug reference in the lyrics. I can't find it, so I have to write it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mincer View Post
    I have also used Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards to help out of creative jams.
    Bookmarked.

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    Ultimate Tone Slacker Jacew's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    I do same as most others here. Just noodle around creating melodies, riffs and trying out chords progressions. One thing I often do for new ideas is to take melodies or riffs i don't think are that good and arrange them differently by blending with "unfitting" chord progression, or vice versa. It's good way to create things you wouldn't probably thought otherwise.

    I never really write down vocal melodies. When I get inspired to write a lyric I always hear the vocal melody in my head, and it becomes part of the lyric. I know the melodies when I read the lyrics. Probably need to start writing those up if I find anyone to sing them in the future...
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    Super Toneologist justFred's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    sometimes sitting down with a keyboard for a while will yield some interesting ideas...recently picked up a Fishman Triple play and find that different instruments also make for finding some new paths...but in the end like Edison said: "10% inspiration and 90% perspiration" or somebody said something like that maybe...

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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    I'm new to writing, and have to follow a process in order to keep from getting lost. It sounds like others replying are able to pick up on a new melody, and just take off with it. I'm assuming that building my chops will help accelerate the process AT THE FRONT END, and make it easier on the back end, so that the recording process can start sooner.

    Example, I recently bumped into a lick accidentally, and now it has me thinking...

    Aeolian minor, at the root, fret a 3 string inverted power chord, and hold your pinky over the minor 3rd. Then play a 2 string power chord (ignore the inversion), then put your pinky down and play the 3,5 without the root, lift the pinky and strum, put the pinky down and strum, do that a few times and then lift the pinky and play an inverted 3 string power chord to resolve the lick. (EDIT: Nope, that lick resolves up to an inverted power chord off the 4th interval...I need to get more organized.)

    No pedals, and just enough overdrive to call it rock. And now I'm messing with what I call "jazz sounds" in a rock ballad. (I think that it's a Sus4 minus 5 with the 3rd as the root.) And now I'm learning how to mess with the mood of the song as I go instead of after I'm knee deep into it.
    Last edited by Gransen; 02-11-2019 at 12:59 PM.

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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Quote Originally Posted by justFred View Post
    sometimes sitting down with a keyboard for a while will yield some interesting ideas....
    A few weeks ago I had a dream where I was presented with a keyboard. I don't know how to play the piano, but I looked at it and said, "I could EASILY teach myself how to play this thing...and I'll bet that would help me write music. I'd even have another instrument to use for recording!!!"

    Then I woke up, and had big ideas about buying a keyboard. I'm putting it on hold for now. I'll get there, just not yet...

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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    As for writing music, for me it is anything but "writing".

    - Best ideas come when I take a shower in the morning. If it fails to stick in the mind during the day it ain't good enough.
    - I record short ideas on anything at hand in the moment and put them into some sort of pool in my computer.
    - I use these tiny fragments as a starting point.
    - Many times, the meanest guitar riffs come on a keyboard or by programming music. That sort of bypasses my typical boring / chlicé solutions on guitar that rely too much on fixed/stored automatic movements and steers stuff rather into what I hear inside. I try to break free from my fixations as much as possible. No theory, no chord and chord progression, all instinct, only thick monophonic basslines.
    - When I feel to be in the zone I start Reaper and start recording / editing on the fly, all by instinct.
    - I refine details.
    - I mix/master the track(s)

    As for vocals first I construct the whole instrumental song then I mumble the melody gibberish, usually while driving alone. When it fits the song I translate it to the actual human language.
    Last edited by NecroPolo; 02-11-2019 at 09:41 PM.

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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    usually the first or second off-the-cuff riff that comes out when I'm in a flowing state of mind. record that on my phone with a quick vid so I don't forget, because I will. usually I'll have like 2-3 riffs in a row that go together, then I need to work harder to expand those out to something longer.

    after a bit, it's in my head and becoming a game to see what comes next. something will hit me as I'm walking the dog and I'll hum it into my phone, go back and try it on guitar, etc.

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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    A riff pops in my head, usually the opening one ..jam around with it until more pop in there ..arrange stuff a bit, add loads of chaos & dissonance, then some sweet vokills..

    ..that's how it goes


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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    When it comes to composing music, because it’s music, I can’t describe it. That’d be like dancing about architecture.
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    Sock Supplier to RHCP Beer$'s Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    They just happen. I think I have a pretty good instinct for when a song is finally a song and sounds good. I'll have hundreds of potentially awesome "seeds" for a song. Some see the light of day, some get shelved until they can truly be a great song instead of a bank of riffs I thought sounded good at the time. I like to have some kind of theme, mood or at least some clever transitions that make the music resemble what the song is supposed to be about. Music theory is very helpful. It's not 100% necessary to write good songs, but you can use it to deconstruct them and figure out exactly what you did.
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Often the music comes first for me, usually melody but sometimes just a chord part. Or even fragments - a verse progression, a groove, a bridge, a bass line, a guitar riff, or just an intro. I have a lot of bits & pieces floating around my musical imagination waiting for their perfect matches. Or just for a place to put them to good use.

    Other times it's the words that come first and I'll write music to suit them. I've had some experience putting other people's poetry to music, so I can apply those methods to my own when a lyric arrives unaccompanied.

    But for some of the really good ideas, words and music come at the same time. Once in a while a song will manifest as a gestalt, complete except for a few tweaks to the arrangement. IMO those generally have been my best work.

    I tend to take a different approach writing on the keyboard than I do on guitar. Not necessarily better, just different. I agree with others here that if I'm feeling stuck for a part, playing another instrument often can produce fresh ideas. It doesn't always require switching to keys - sometimes just picking up a different guitar can help to jog my imagination.
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Quote Originally Posted by eclecticsynergy View Post
    Often the music comes first for me, usually melody but sometimes just a chord part. Or even fragments - a verse progression, a groove, a bridge, a bass line, a guitar riff, or just an intro. I have a lot of bits & pieces floating around my musical imagination waiting for their perfect matches. Or just for a place to put them to good use.

    Other times it's the words that come first and I'll write music to suit them. I've had some experience putting other people's poetry to music, so I can apply those methods to my own when a lyric arrives unaccompanied.

    But for some of the really good ideas, words and music come at the same time. Once in a while a song will manifest as a gestalt, complete except for a few tweaks to the arrangement. IMO those generally have been my best work.

    I tend to take a different approach writing on the keyboard than I do on guitar. Not necessarily better, just different. I agree with others here that if I'm feeling stuck for a part, playing another instrument often can produce fresh ideas. It doesn't always require switching to keys - sometimes just picking up a different guitar can help to jog my imagination.
    You write the exact same way I do, even down to the occasional fully composed piece coming to me. I attribute that to us both being multi-instrumentalists so we aren't focused on one instrument and see all the pieces playing a role in a bigger picture. I want the lyrics be more than just an afterthought to a great instrumental. I think vocal melodies and patterns should be treated like another instrument in the composition. If there's something about the composition that resembles the subject matter, even better!

    Word of advice to everyone writing and producing songs, sometimes you need a break from a song you've been spending a lot of time on. When the initial spark of why you liked it wears off, I find you can get really sick of your own songs just like you would listening to any song stuck on repeat for a long time. You can lose objectivity that way so don't be afraid to step away, let your mind "forget" the song to some extent and it can blow your mind when you come back to it if it's right.

    EDIT: I didn't mean to imply that there is anything wrong with only playing one instrument, more writing like only your instrument matters, so hopefully with that in mind I don't sound like an ass.
    Last edited by Beer$; 02-13-2019 at 05:23 AM.
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    Ultimate Tone Slacker eclecticsynergy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Quote Originally Posted by Beer$ View Post
    Word of advice to everyone writing and producing songs, sometimes you need a break from a song you've been spending a lot of time on. When the initial spark of why you liked it wears off, I find you can get really sick of your own songs just like you would listening to any song stuck on repeat for a long time. You can lose objectivity that way so don't be afraid to step away, let your mind "forget" the song to some extent and it can blow your mind when you come back to it if it's right.
    Absolutely. If you get a bit jaded and you have the luxury of letting it rest for a bit, it often will rekindle the appeal and your inspiration.
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    High Voltologist Wattage's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    So many different ways I'd be hard pressed to say the most repeatable or consistent. I do know that I rarely finish the song I start out working on, my musical ADD takes where it pleases and I just try to keep up. I keep a stack of notebooks around, use my laptop, a handheld recorder, my phone, my Tascam multi-track or sometimes I just flat out remember it all. I just finished 2 songs that have been hanging around for 15 years or so and had another new one come to me in between working on them.

    Best thing I can say is if you want to write, write a lot. Hard work seems to invent a lot of good stuff.

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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???

    Quote Originally Posted by Wattage View Post
    So many different ways I'd be hard pressed to say the most repeatable or consistent. I do know that I rarely finish the song I start out working on, my musical ADD takes where it pleases and I just try to keep up. I keep a stack of notebooks around, use my laptop, a handheld recorder, my phone, my Tascam multi-track or sometimes I just flat out remember it all. I just finished 2 songs that have been hanging around for 15 years or so and had another new one come to me in between working on them.

    Best thing I can say is if you want to write, write a lot. Hard work seems to invent a lot of good stuff.
    I've been building up sort of library of random pieces, partial songs, and stuff like that I've thought some way good or inventive.

    Just yesterday thought one song that has forming for a while could fit to one lyrics I remembered partially writing couple of years back:

    I looked up it and finished the very partial lyrics I had there. Also found out I actually had partially finished composition for the song too! Worked that half way through embedding the new stuff in it and removing and streamlining the excess. Sounds pretty good thus far.

    It really pays off to keep notes of your ideas.
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
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    Super Toneologist Hurricane's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you write YOUR music...???



    Railroad boxcar's steel wheels hammering a hard driving pounding rhythm on steel
    railroad tracks can get the juices flowing .

    The tires on my car as I drive a stretch of freeway making grooves and hooks in
    syncopated and out sync rhythmic tempos .

    Listening to music that you dig whether old or new and using the inspiration
    it gives .

    All the above get me going and :

    Learning how successful song writers/singers/musician use rhymes , catching
    an alliterative phrase in a good classic writing .

    Listening to people speak who are good at it or interesting in how they express
    themselves .

    No one way does it for me , it's sort of what is there in there here and now ,
    our something triggered on the spot that takes you back in time to a [ moment ] .

    EZ :

    HR
    It started for me with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in 54 on a Blues Harp and progressed , then life .....some death ....Evolving as I went like a small rock in a stream rounding out as I went with the flow as I go through the white waters and waterfalls of life . Life has always been interesting to me

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