Overcoming Writer's Block

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by TREYAZAGHTOTH, Jul 29, 2020.

  1. TREYAZAGHTOTH

    TREYAZAGHTOTH 'bone' carpenter

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    Overcoming writers block:

    Ever opened a new guitar pro file to start writing a new song, and after 15 min, your screen is as empty as your ideas ?

    Chugging on the low E or low B, (or even the low A0 ) for that next riff..hoping that at least your next song, won’t scare away your neighbours cat ?

    Check this chord progression out :
    C maj > Amin > Emin

    And this one also

    E maj > A maj > C maj

    Both these chord progressions have ONE note that is common…the note E.

    This opens up some possibilities …
    a) a riff with the open E string , and the notes of the above mentioned chords
    b) chords with an open E string .

    Another thing, both the chords Cmaj and Amin, have two notes in common…the notes C and E.

    This can then we used to pivot out to another chord/harmony …and onto a totally different scale.( we could go into a Cdim for example)

    Look at the second example I gave…Amaj to Cmaj.

    There is a step of C# to C..that can be used as a flavour, to create some interesting kind of sounds, (perhaps your neighbour’s cat might come back ?)

    How about using alternate ‘voicing’ of chords, say an Emaj chord, with an added C# (from the Amaj chord )?

    Play around with it, and let me know.
    What are some things, you guys do, to come up with riffs when you are stuck ?

    Dinesh
     
  2. RobertVII

    RobertVII SS.org Regular

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    I find that setting limitations really helps. If I'm just trying to get a new song or idea out as soon as possible I usually pick a key and some sort of rhythmic style to emulate. I got really into dance styles recently so the rhythmic backbone I'll use might be a tango, clave rhythm, waltz, or a zambra. Another good way to get ideas flowing is to listen to a track and then try to emulate its mood and tone.
     
  3. wheresthefbomb

    wheresthefbomb SS.org Regular

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    By far the most inspiring thing for me is having other people to play with who share my enthusiasm and with whom I have some level of common artistic vision. That's not always an option, though, and playing alone is preferable to not playing at all.

    I suffer from First in-last out related artistic constipation. I end up hanging onto tons of partially completed ideas that were great when I had them but my enthusiasm for working on them has mostly played out, especially in comparison to shiny new ideas.

    Letting things be "done" is difficult for me, I am always finding new inspiration from old ideas, and so the tendency is to keep adding to old stuff instead of writing new stuff. What typically results is either a bunch of ever-changing, never-finished songs, or one song with way too many parts. To combat this I am keeping my focus on completing things that are in front of me now as much as possible, and setting aside old projects that haven't gone anywhere.

    I have also been trying to shift my perspective on recording to it being a snapshot in time rather than necessarily a "finished" piece, because the things I write and perform are always changing and evolving, even the "finished" pieces.

    Reflecting on the concept of impermanence has been very helpful here. I'm striving for a balance between "written songs with discrete structures" and "swirling chaos of the glittervoid."
     
    c7spheres likes this.
  4. TREYAZAGHTOTH

    TREYAZAGHTOTH 'bone' carpenter

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    @wheresthebomb : what i tend to do, when i am stuck is that i tab out my composition on to MIDI and load it up in my DAW.

    Then i load up my MIDI drum software and try to come up with drum patterns in either odd timings ,or in a different feel ,all together.

    The drums help me resolve the song, and usually helps me point to the right direction.

    eg: if the tempo of the song is 4/4 @ 240 bpm, i will try out a drum groove 3/4 @ 180 bpm
    OR .. i will use odd timings, to highlight the third beat of the bar, on every other repetition.
     
  5. TonyFlyingSquirrel

    TonyFlyingSquirrel Cherokee Warrior

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    I keep an ongoing riff library in a specific folder of Pro Tools sessions. I’ll go in at any hour, upload a riff, passage, or melody on guitar or piano just to get it out of my head, then come back to it later when I am specifically working on ideas. My bass player and I have identical studios that our sessions are synced in Synology and/or Dropbox, so we can each pull from each other.
     
  6. TREYAZAGHTOTH

    TREYAZAGHTOTH 'bone' carpenter

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    Was checking out Ron Jarzombek and his 12 tone fragment system on youtube
    From what i understand:

    A) he always has a tonal centre…meaning he goes into the next group of notes, only after he has
    ‘resolved’ the groupings,
    B) he differentiates the groupings, using rhythm.
    C) there is almost always a background harmony during the passage of the notes.
    D) some groupings have more notes than the others…(at least we can arrange it that way !)…
    This opens up the possibility for dissonance…
    E) the groupings can be in any way we want… this can helps us come up with harmony/chords

    has anyone used this system?..what are your thoughts on this ?
     
  7. TREYAZAGHTOTH

    TREYAZAGHTOTH 'bone' carpenter

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    The other day, i was checking out Iron Maiden' Seventh Son of the Seventh Son.
    To my mind, this was what was going on in that song :

    A) use of chords within the same scale
    B) use of chords from the ‘relative’ scale
    C) use of an underlying drum groove /feel,/ rhythmic pattern that repeats in different sections of the song..so that the section of the song, which has a totally different key, has the same ‘groove’
    D) use of dynamics.. which repeat all through out the song.
    By dynamics, I mean start-stop accentuation .( e.g. the ‘rests’ and the timed harmony/melody will have the same value,)

    what other things are going on in that song ?
     

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