View Full Version : writing Guitar tunes
12-23-2002, 03:51 PM
Every song i write on guitar either comes out as a punk rock style or really cheesey.
How do u break the mould and write things you dont expect to? I start off with a chord progression and then decide whether or not to base a riff on it, start with intro solo, or maybe try a type of arpeggio format. Do you really need to be in a band and jamming to come up with good riffs? because i cant see where the hell famous bands/guitarists get the ideas for some of there riffs! do they try every combinaiton of notes on an area on the guitar until it sounds cool or something?
12-23-2002, 04:22 PM
Try grabbing some drum loops off the net & either repeat them in a sequencer or use something like ReCycle. Just listening to a drum beat or even a drum machine can give ya all kinds of ideas.
On the other hand tho, yeah... it's a whole bunch of just sitting around randomly picking notes until something sounds good. Either that or making something up in your head and seeing if it can be repeated on the guitar.
12-23-2002, 08:14 PM
its inspiration. Play a musical instrument you don't normally play (say...keyboards). With me, i almost automatically get inspiration when i play a foreign instrument.
12-24-2002, 01:35 AM
Be more open to trying different styles of music. Play all sorts of stuff. Take from your influences. Take from other bands you don't listen to alot and build of their ideas. Or just stop and think "what would sound cool right now?"
Just some ideas.
Hope that helps any.
12-26-2002, 11:00 AM
I usually start off playing a song. Then I get ideas or inspiration after a small warm-up jam with myself.
12-27-2002, 12:40 PM
Try finding tabs to a song which really moved you, and then see what kinds of chordal structures they used and study what the song does.
Get a drum machine, set up a 2 bar loop and go...do whatever, see if anything good comes out of it :)
Inspiration from different situations you are in can be used to make great music, also.
12-27-2002, 06:31 PM
Get drumloops or make your own with drum programs, a good one is fruityloops. Mess with a making drum parts. Here's the path I start with, it's called part-writing.
STart a new drum part.
I usually begin with the hihat on every beat. Then I mess with the tempo to see how fast I want the song to go.
Then I'll just sit there and listen to the hi-hat, getting the tempo in my head. After I get the tempo in my head, I start thinking up a beat with bass and snare. I'll lay that down.
Next I'll think up the rhythm I want to the song. Using either bass, guitar or both. Just think up a rhythm add that too the mix. Here you should get your chordal structure, if not I just figure it out.
Now you have the entire rhythm and chordal structure done, rest is cake.
Next part is open to what comes first. Usually a melody line that go with the rhythm. I usually start humming it until I get it completely stable in my mind then I figure it out on guitar. Now you got your melody, I usually base an entire song on that melody, but you may have your own way and may to change it throughout the song.
Now that I got my melody, I begin to build a riff that goes with it. Usually just hum it til it's in my head then, figure it out then lay it down.
After that, you just go with the flow. Start adding harmonies, changes, maybe a solo, whatever you want the song to be. Once you got the rhtyhm and melody, it seems like everything else just falls into place.
This is still just my way, you probably all have different ways but maybe this will help you think up your way. Sometime you may start with a cool guitar you came up with, but I think the process of part-writing works really well.
01-06-2003, 11:18 AM
this looks long but it's actually really short.
i normally write some good songs while playing songs i like. what happens is that i start to play a song and then i do my own thing based on it and something good comes about 65 percent of the time.
a week or two ago i was playing this Nirvana chord progression (Polly or teen spirit or something) and i had been playing it for a bit and i started playing the verse riff again and after playing the first chord, i did this random chord progression movement thingy and it sounded great! i love my song now.
also, i was playing a Metallica riff and i did this really fast movement through a bunch of chords and ended on this nice little pentatonic lick in the seventh fret. it was pure adrenaline and it was pretty hardcore. my friends were all confused, they couldn't figure out which Metallica song it was until i convinced them (hard task) that it was my own blood sweat and tears.
i never really have a problem writing punk music though(whew, i'm a guitarist in a punk band). i just run through a bunch of chord progressions and find something catchy and build a riff around it and make a neat little punk solo and i'm done. i once about four songs one after another in about an hour.
also, drum machines are a good idea.
but just try this out. i works for me and my friends.
01-15-2003, 09:59 AM
All you need is a chord progression. Then a melody. Sometimes the other way around. A main theme (perhaps a riff) is a good way of finding these things. If the song can stand alone as only chords and melody, then it's a good song.
01-28-2003, 04:43 PM
Yeah i definately agree with the idea of playing songs you like and building off of them. I'll listen to a lot of music and listen for chords that I really like and I will try and build a chord progression out of that. Once I have a progression I'll just start playing over it with a pentatonic or something listening for some catchy melody. Also it definately helps to have a drum beat in the background for an idea for speed.
01-29-2003, 06:22 PM
Just remember that writing a song isn't an almost mechanical process, you can be tinkering with the same idea for weeks and weeks and still not be pleased.
Not to say the comments here haven't been anything short of excellent, but i just think great musical ideas can be produced in more free flowing ways.
Its like sometimes I can just hear an idea in my head, and it sounds so good I emulate it onto guitar, whether it be a simple progression or a short riff, mainly what I hear is a mood for the piece, what kind of atmosphere i want to create for it.
02-11-2003, 03:05 AM
Ignore whatever you know, and just either spend time thinking what you hear in your head or work with what you can come up with. Just archive ideas. If you play one riff that sounds cool play it again, but try and add some variation to it. Just paly it once, play it again but slightly different, play it again slgihtly different. Seems methodical and tiem consuming but it can be fun. Either that or find some way to jam over drums tracks with midi or a drum machine or whatever. Take ideas musically from your influences, if you feel limited by them and their styles find new music to play and learn from. If that bores you just sit there and play for 2 hours, or find some friends to jam with for 2 hours. Just play, don't think just play, let go of what you've palyed before, let go of waht you think you can do, what you think you can't just play music. If you like a particular key just play in it. I don't know whatelse you could do, take illicit drugs and then play something, stay up for 3 days stairght without sleep and rest then play. Experiment. Expand, Evovle, Don't try to write something great, try to write something that you could listen to over and over again.
Hope that helps dude.
02-11-2003, 01:54 PM
Icecool is right, songs are almost like living, changing beings. My friends and I get together weekly to jam. We started with nothing and came up with ten or so skeletons of songs (just a riff or two, or maybe a chord progression). Every time we play the songs change a bit, depending on how I'm feeling that night, or who's playing drums or bass, solos are always improvised, etc. For example, one song that was merely a driving 3 powerchord rhythm has now turned into a softer, melodic fingerpicked song.
02-11-2003, 02:55 PM
Yeah I did the exact same thing. I'd write a riff or something and a few hours later, come back and change something. Or even just sit there for hours messing with the same riff. I actually did this alot when I first started writting my own tunes. I noticed that I wasted alot of valueable time doing this, not that I'm saying you shouldn't do that. But inspirational moments come and go rather fast. Every musician knows that, just out of the blue you get a really kool idea for a song. Then an hour later your stumped. A good idea to avoid this, is when these inspirational moments come, start planning out how the song with go. With a simple chord progression (or melody), where the tempo should pick up (drum parts), key changes, and stuff like that. Then once you got a nice plan, then go back and mess with the riffs and perfect it. Everyone is different, but I found this has helped me and maybe you guys too. I know everyone has some shape of this problem, and it's not a get-rid-of remedy, but it helps.
Some good ways, I think, to get inspired are listening to your favorite tunes (I'd watch this cause if you listen too much, you end up copying them), maybe reading a book or watching a movie, or even looking at a painting and other forms of art can inspire some ideas.
02-24-2003, 09:00 AM
I usually write a lot, but it looks like you've had a lot to look at already.
Try a different tuning. And take a "less is better" approach to this. You don't have to go crazy and do some CREED double dropped open D tuning and make every string sound like the other (even though that tuning sounds very sweet, you can't really play a wide variety in it).
Drop-D is a good one. I use it alot. Just dropping one string a whole makes a big difference. There some chords that you'd never be able to reach if you didn't use this tuning. It expands your playing field. Check it out.
Don't be afraid to experiment. If something doesn't sound write, twist a tuning peg here and there. And if you're not one for alternate tunings, just try odd-ball chord shapes. Do something you wouldn't normally do. Maybe you'd come up with something cool.
The basis of songs comes from jamming. The more you jam, the more cool things you come up with. It's that simple.
02-24-2003, 02:30 PM
Playing with feeling is like having a conversation with someone... you can learn new words, maybe some ice breakers, but no one can really teach you how to hold a conversation with another person. Guitar really is like talking... there are two main aspects to talking - pitch and inflection (people shape their mouth to create certain syllables, and most people raise pitch near the end of sentences for questions, for example). The same goes for guitar playing, you can vary your pitch and inflection. No one can tell you how, it just comes from doing it over and over and over.
Toolfreak has a good idea. When I hit the old writers block, I sometimes just randomly tune my guitar and place my fingers randomly. When I hit a cool sound, I figure out the notes and write them down. Then I learn how to play the chord in standard tuning. Another thing I do is randomly tune my guitar then improvise over a jam track. This way, you can't use familiar patterns and it forces you to use your ear and do new things.
02-24-2003, 05:09 PM
Just a little bit off the topic...
How many of you do actually write stuff down using notation and stuff. I find this pretty difficult even though I can read hmm... reasonably well. I've tried to tab my stuff but after a while after I look at the tabs i have written down I can't recover the idea back. That is why whenever I come up with something cool, I record it simultaneously on my PC otherwise it gets lost.
02-24-2003, 05:20 PM
I use Midi to record all my ideas and save them. If I saved them as wav. files, I would quickly run out of room. I also have a midi arranger so it's easy to incorporate them with a drum track or snyth part, and pretty arrange the whole song that way. Then once I complete the song just record it.
02-24-2003, 08:01 PM
I usually have a notebook handy, so I always tab out cool ideas. I do spacing on the tab I write approximate to the spacing between the notes and it works great for me. I never have problewms getting the idea back./ I hate it when I think, "Oh, this'll be easy to remember, I don't need to write it down" then wake up and have forgotten it...
02-25-2003, 07:41 AM
LOL, i was about to reply to this topic them realised i started it!
I keep a book too, put songs at front and spare riffs at the back, sometimes i merge songs to make cool outros.
REcently Ive found that through soloing in the high regions of the guitar i can pic out 5 or 6 note patterns or riffs and transpose them down to the lower parts to base songs on, the riffs are in no way similar to the songs i was jamming too origionally
03-18-2003, 12:24 PM
You sound like you already have alot of knowlage already, i would just say expand your music that you listen too. you wuld be suprised differnt kind of music has some really cool beats or riffs. download beast of blood from malice mizer or nine spiral from Gackt ;) there japanise bands. just an idea.
03-23-2003, 10:24 AM
I find that it works pretty well to hum a tune that you like in your head and then get it down on guitar. Or what also works for punk rock etc. is to use bass setting on a keyboard and see what you come up with and then put it to guitar :S works for me
What I often do is work out a chord progression or a scalar run in standard EADGBE and then work though it with different tunings. Sometimes it sounds pretty freaky, sometimes just wrong and at others plain inspired. If using an electric combine this with experimenting with tonal control, effects units and anything that comes to hand. For my money, you cant go far wrong with a flanger.
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