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  • How do you keep fresh?

    No, this isn't a question about hygiene.

    What I'm really curious about is how you guys and girls keep the flow of fresh ideas coming when you are songwriting.

    I personally have felt a little dried up in terms of making music these last few months. I've tried rejuvenating myself with a new computer and speakers but it isn't having quite the desired effect. I usually feel frustrated that I come back to the same chords over and over. I really hate using similar ideas in different songs, something I know I should get over but have yet to figure out how. I can sit at a computer playing and recording for three or four hours and feel disappointed with myself for not finding that riff. Not every writing session is disappointing, sometimes I come away very happy with what I have made. Perhaps I'm wrong in assuming after a couple of years making music I should always expect gems from a lengthy session.

    I've considered investing in a midi keyboard to allow me to approach things from a different angle. I stick exclusively to guitar these days and I wonder if that's corking my flow.

    Any thoughts or comments or suggestions on how you keep writing new ideas AND feel happy about them?

    Cheers.

  • #2
    i'm with you. same here about the last few months.

    sometimes i would just do a cover, which are all really diff from my own work.

    don't know if it really helps but gives me satisfaction between times.

    get a midi, a harp, a bass, a diff instrument can open up a lot of ideas.

    quiet time, for me, generates some good ideas.

    it sucks when you feel dried up but i look at it as a temporary thing and don't sweat it too much.
    well, it IS a gen-u-ine copy!

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Plaswuff,

      You asked how does one keep fresh, but to me the more basic question is how to generate new ideas. It's probably different for everyone. I have been writing 3-5 songs per month for the last year. They may not be the greatest tunes but (most) are different from each other.

      I do two things that are easily reproducible. First, I always have a recorder going when I am jamming (by myself) and relaxing on the guitar or the keyboard. I may recognize something that I like while I am jamming, but most often I just relisten to the jam at some future time.

      And if I hear something I like, even if just a tiny snippet - a few words sung in jibberish or a chord sequence or melody that I like, I extract it a file and store it in a folder called song ideas. later - weeks or months - I relisten to those extracted files. Many are seeds of songs for me. I don't think I would be able to generate the number of new tunes I do if I did not practice this. It's like a garden. Throw some seeds in and often things grow.

      The other thing that really helps me come up with song ideas is mixing up the instruments that I compose on. Guitar, keyboard with different instruments. Sometimes I put a drum track on that uses a unique time signature. I jam to these. A few months ago I decided to write a song composing on the bass guitar alone. Also a few months ago a composer forced me to try writing melody alone on the keyboard, without any words or chords in mind. That felt weird but it worked! I wrote some of my better melodies that way. (Incidentally, the reason she said to do that is that I was in a rut composing songs the same old way just on a guitar.)



      Hope this helps,

      Rick
      www.rickdieffenbach.com.

      Comment


      • #4
        Seriously. Change your name, change the sort of music you want to write. Just be someone else. It unburdens you from the rest of your work and just allows you to be free. I started playing an open mic night as a totally different person/band. called 'The Jaffa Cake V.A.T. Anomoly' since then I've written a lot of songs 'as' The Jaffa Cake VAT anomonly. Because It's not really me (even though it actually is) I don't feel pressure to deliver a certain level of quality. And because I don't feel that pressure then the ideas flow easier.
        2011 Guild D-125
        Gibsun J200 - Very appreciateive HCAG caper recepient. Thanks everyone!

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        • #5
          Seriously. Change your name, change the sort of music you want to write. Just be someone else. It unburdens you from the rest of your work and just allows you to be free. I started playing an open mic night as a totally different person/band. called 'The Jaffa Cake V.A.T. Anomoly' since then I've written a lot of songs 'as' The Jaffa Cake VAT anomonly. Because It's not really me (even though it actually is) I don't feel pressure to deliver a certain level of quality. And because I don't feel that pressure then the ideas flow easier.


          Sgt Pepper's was created with this mindset.
          Don't listen to Justin.
          LCK - 2/21/2012

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          • #6
            I listen to music I think I don't like.
            __________
            Your god doesn't exist but my god does and he is all loving. If you disagree with me I'll kill you. - Prince Ea

            Comment


            • #7
              Start with a different instrument
              Try writing a melody with just your voice
              Play with different people
              Use samples
              Try different tunings on the guitar
              Next time you are changing your guitar strings, try composing a melody with only 3 strings
              If you normally start with music, try starting with lyrics. Let the cadence of the words dictate the melody
              ...

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              • #8
                Don't start with any ideas. Keep them at bay. Don't direct - let the hands play. Feel how they play. Don't think - just sing to the music. Hear, but don't listen.
                " I respect your right to believe bull****************. I don't respect the bull**************** you believe." - David@HoboSage.com

                http://soundcloud.com/hobosage

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                • #9
                  I just got a mandolin. It has really opened up a lot of song ideas. Not only on the mandolin, which I am just learning to play, but it opened up new ideas on the guitar. I also recently got a Digitech JamMan pedal. It is a looping pedal. I allows you to record phrases and play them in a loop. With it I can bounce different rhythms off the loop until I find stuff that is complimentary.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Learn how to read and write in music notation (if you can't already). Don't listen to anyone who says that writing music notation is a waste of time (especially guitarists). I know that there are plenty of Jimmy Johns who will say you don't need to be able to read music to play it, but if you want inspiration there's nothing better trust me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Learn how to read and write in music notation (if you can't already). Don't listen to anyone who says that writing music notation is a waste of time (especially guitarists). I know that there are plenty of Jimmy Johns who will say you don't need to be able to read music to play it, but if you want inspiration there's nothing better trust me.


                      I'm intrigued, but it seems like a huge undertaking. And, at the risk of coming across like a Jimmy John, I can't really imagine how it would improve my creative output. That's probably because I know so little about it though. How would you say it gets you inspired?

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                      • #12

                        I'm intrigued, but it seems like a huge undertaking. And, at the risk of coming across like a Jimmy John, I can't really imagine how it would improve my creative output. That's probably because I know so little about it though. How would you say it gets you inspired?


                        Different time signatures, key signatures, dynamics, articulations, note durations, it really opens up a more 'visual' aspect to music. That chord you play over and over, it can be played soft, loud, gradually getting louder, gradually getting softer, gradually slower, gradually quicker; the possibilities are endless. All of this is notated in sheet music.

                        As a bonus, if you become fluent in it you can learn different instrument's range and what keys are best suited for them, and you can have a MUCH easier time picking up ANY instrument because you KNOW what you're playing. Much popular music is in 4/4 or 2/4, but there are TONS of other time signatures you can use which give a very different sound. All of this is written out for you in notation which is why it will show you that the possibilities are endless and you won't be limiting yourself.

                        There's lots of great books out there that can teach you everything for maybe $30. Idiot's Guide to Music Theory is a good one I recommend it helped me a lot.

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                        • #13
                          Listening to a lot of music, watching cartoons and playing video games.

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                          • #14
                            My best thoughts on the subject is to learn songs from different genres, and develop different tastes in new artists.

                            Not only that, but also having sessions where you're playing randomly, even if it sounds bad, in order to keep fresh and to not play the same stuff over and over again.

                            Cheers
                            My Experience From Learning Songwriting From a Book - Does It REALLY Work? >> http://www.writeyournext****************song.com

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                            • #15
                              I think we need to start a songwriting "game". We all decide on a song title, and we have a certain time limit, say, a week to get it done. Then we post it all here to enjoy. It'll help keep creative juices flowing, and since none of it is all that serious, the only true purpose will be keeping it fresh and having fun.
                              Be love. Be gratitude.

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