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Thread: Stuck!!!!!

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    Stuck!!!!!

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    Everything I write I hate. How do I get over this? What do you guys do to get ideas, inspiration? HELP!
    I'm right in the middle of writing a record (10 songs) I have 5 songs. I feel tapped. I've tried writing in every key and nothing.
    Thanks
    Adam

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    I watch a movie to get ideas.But I've been thru those dry spells, its hard to write your way out of them...so I just try to put myself in different "heads"so to speak.Try writing in the 3rd person narrative,or use things like...Got your Letter...metophores like lets see.........a car as a woman...Queen did a song like that called I'm In Love With MY Car.

    Good Luck

    Don
    Last edited by Henri Devill; 07-17-2001 at 22:31.
    blessed are the cheese makers


    Don

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    if your instrument is guitar you could try some alternate tunings.. Drop D is the tuning of choice these days, but there are other conventions. For example, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, pretty much the king of alt tunings, did an entire song with all the strings at the same pitch.. You can bang out some pretty interesting riffs by playing guitar as you normally would but with a weird tuning..

    Are you familiar with the circle of fifths? Essentially, you take a piece of paper, draw a circle, stick the letter "C" at the 12:00 position of the circle and place the corresponding fifth at every hour of the clock, for example "G" at 1:00, "D" at 2:00 etc. The sequence will look like: C,G,D,A,E,B,F#,C#,G#,Eb (D#),Bb,F..

    Looking at the circle, try different chords as to their relation on the "clock". Try, say, 12:00 to 6:00 to 3:00, which would give you a I,#IV,VI progression.. maybe a little dissonant for your taste, but you get the idea..

    Another thing you might want to try is playing accents within a time signature to give the impression that there are multiple time signatures playing consecutively.. For example, take a 4/4 time signature and count it in eighth notes, giving you 8/8.. playing a groove in 6/8 over an 8/8 time signature will leave you with two extra beats.. (which would come out as 1-2-3-4-5-6 1-2 1-2-3-4-5-6 1-2)

    I'm currently writing a song in 7/4, which is the same as 14/8.. The main riff of the song starts with a 9/8 groove with 5 beats left over, yielding a really cool 9/8 + 5/8 feel that in reality is just a 7/4 time signature!

    Hope this helps,

    Cy
    Cy

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    Clear your mind.

    I never sit down to write a song. I grab my electric, plug it in, get a sweet sweet tone and play. If I want to write a song, I can't (or the result will be shit). I usually have my 4 track on stand-by if I happen to hit on a sound/riff/idea. The if I like it I develope it on my D16, work it into the basisi, foundation of a song.

    If I have some lyrics first, I'll pick up my acoustic usually. Look for interesting chord voicings, alt. tunings etc; but all the time I am not under any pressure to write, because then I can't.

    It is probably an idea to develop exercises. By getting away from the guitar you are inspiring yourself more-so than when your sat with it. Your seeing things, hearing things, re-freshing your memory for when you do indeed sit back down with it.

    It can be the hardest thing to walk away from the guitar for a while if your under pressure to write or all you can think about is playing it (sad world isnt it?).

    On to some exercises. One thing to do is to learn more songs. Though you may be straying away from writing your own stuff you are learning more about other songs. Dissect a solo, figure out different chord voicings for playing a song, stick a capo on anywhere on the guitar etc. A very good idea is alt. tunings. Go into open D, G and put your fingers anywhere on the fretboard, oblivious to what you are actaully playing-if it sounds good it is good.

    Something that can also work is to get a book or poem or think of a simple story. Play with that in mind.over it as you read. Even better, garb the newspaper, open it anywhere and do the same with any story you read. It may sound stupid but it really makes you think. You change tempo, see that minor chords work better over sad stuff (obvious but still, those bright major chords don't sound right) etc.

    So what I'm saying is really don't think about it; easier said than done. You really have to inspired by inspiration; and if you can work that out-well done. Write a song about it. Write a song about wasting your time reading this thread (but speek metaphorically (sp) about it), write about...............oh no writers block.

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    I find I get some really good ideas as I'm going to sleep and especially when I'm driving. I think it must be because the logical part of the brain is either shutting down or occupied, giving the creative part free reign. Put a notebook by your bed or in the car, though, because as frustrating as it is to have no ideas, it can be worse (maybe) to have a great one and forget it.
    Mark Guinn

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    Thank you guys. You all have great ideas! But not to long after I posted that thread I came up with a melody. I think by just giving up and voicing my frustration to people I know who understand helped to break my block. It's just since I learned music theory I have a hard time feeling satisfied with my songs unless I write the guitar or piano progressions to the melody. It's frustrating knowing that when your in any key and you get to the 5 or 7 chord the only thing that sounds nice is going back to 1. And I write pop music (Fastball, Weezer, Superchunk, type stuff) so 4/4 and 3/4 are about as creative as I get. As far as alternate tuning goes for me it would just make voice leading harder since I wouldn't be familer with the notes that way. I do agree with the not thinking philosophy. That's how I come up with melodies. Cuz for me it's got to start with the melody then if it makes me feel that certain way I write the chord progression.
    Thank you all for your info.
    Adam

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    Sometimes its good to try something really absurd. First, it tends to be funny. That lightens you up and breaks the anxiety loop, and so forth. The other thing that might help is to experiment with music that is completely different from what you're used to. Go see a solo violin concert. Do other stuff that's out of character; make some lemonade from scratch. Stuff like that. It breaks up the linearity of your thinking, and gets you out of the rut.

    I was fooling around, thinking about blues riffs and got onto that stuff about who can and who cannot sing the blues. For instance, it's been said that you can't sing the blues if you drive a Volvo. You're just not entitled to do it, and so forth. So I got thinking about what someone like Steve Martin might do with that, and came up with the lyrics to Valley Blues:

    I went out for a drive
    In my two tone 733i.
    Well, I went out for a drive, yes I did
    In my two tone 733i.
    My wife, she said "Oh, Darlin' at this speed
    You just can't see the countryside."

    Well, we motored through Miami
    The sun, it was really hot.
    That's right- we motored through Miami
    The sun shine down oh so hot.
    When we lost that two tone Bimmer, yes we did
    In the Neiman - Marcus parking lot.

    We hit that keychain finder
    For to make our car commence to sing.
    Yes, we hit that keychain finder
    For to make that car commence to sing.
    We looked all around; just couldn't hear a thing.

    Well, I could see the lights were flashing,
    But the horn, it would not blow.
    Yeah, the lights, they were a-flashin'
    But the horn, it would not blow.
    Damn, it's a warranty job -
    Gonna get it done before the show.

    Red light a showin' - there's a sweet thing
    In an LT 454. That's right.
    The red light, it is shinin'
    On that sweetheart in the Corvette LT 454.
    Well, she smoked me at the green light;
    And I ain't gonna do that any more.


    Nothing like a frivolous exercise to get the juices going again...


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    Mark Guinn was right. I carry a notebook with me EVERYWHERE. When I hear a cool turn of phrase or a neat metaphor, I write it down. RIGHT THEN!! I have learned my lesson in not writing it down. My latest one? "His face has more wrinkles than a trombone players sleeve." Love it.

    Hear's a good quote:
    "The shortest pencil remembers longer than the longest memory."

    Was it Andy Worhall that said "Artists borrow, but great artists steal"? He was on to something. Look for ideas in everything you consume: books, TV, art, sports, groceries, cars, tiddlywinks. You never know where or when you'll find an inspiration. Last month my family took a road-trip, and to keep my kids occupied I brought a book-on-tape of The Oddessy. Half way through the story there was one sentence that suddenly hit me. I frantically started screaming at my wife to find my notebook and write it down. That seed has grown into a great song, which will be the title song on my upcoming CD, "Bad Luck, Good Story".

    Observe. Look at things from the opposite point of view. Look at something from the height of a child. Stand on your desk. Take time to do nothing but stare at the ceiling, or sky, or stars. Spend half and hour watching a wrecking crane. Develop a child-like fascination with simple things.

    And most of all, remember that quality only exists in the midst of quantity. If you want to write great songs, get used to writing crappy ones. They're the doorway to the good ones.

    Aaron
    http://www.aaroncheney.com

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    I find that a dictaphone works better than a notebook; especially at night when I usually feel inspired. As for mornings; I don't think I've ever written a song before the middle of the afternoon. For that reason I work more on theory or mixing my songs.

    Right on Aaron:
    "And most of all, remember that quality only exists in the midst of quantity. If you want to write great songs, get used to writing crappy ones. They're the doorway to the good ones."

    I think it was Neil Young who said, you can't write a descent song until you've written at least 100 bad ones (or something to that accord); or was it a thousand, LOL.

    Gotta go, just got meself some inspiration. Good stuff this alcohol aint it?



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    Another way to come up with fresh musical ideas, is to write with a new instrument. I usually write with guitar, but have been pleasantly surprised when I start somewhere else... drum loop, bass line, violin riff, piano chords.

    It evens helps if you AREN'T proficient on the instrument, because then you aren't locked into the conventions of the instrument... some of us guitar players have a hard time not playing pentatonic scales, or certain power chords when we pick up our guitars. So the alternate guitar tuning advice is good advice, because it adds that accidental discovery element into your writing.

    Also, if you're a guitar player, try writing with a different guitar. For some reason, different guitars get me to think in different ways. John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers says the same thing. If you normally play a Gibson, then pick up a Rickenbacker, and you'll get different musical ideas that are driven by the feel and the tone of the instrument.... then they kick you out of the guitar store.

    Pete


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