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writer's block Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 29th December 2010
  #31
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CassidyGT's Avatar
 

Wow this is the best thread I ever started. This morning I was feeling awful about music and now i am psyched to just hit record and play until I finish.

I will not judge, I will not judge, i will not judge!!!!
Old 29th December 2010
  #32
Glad you're feeling good again, CassidyGT!
It is remarkably easy to feel negatively about what it is that you are doing.

You're not alone with those feelings of uncertainty and if you ever feel like that again, just know that you're not the first or the last.

Looking forward to hearing some of your work at a later date.

All the best,
Hamual
Old 29th December 2010
  #33
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drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammy Havoc View Post
No 'argumentative' detected, friend. I quite agree. The best way to get better is by doing, but past a point, you can probably go too far and require a little break, especially when you're starting to get stressed about the 'lack' of creativity. Having said that, stress and pressure is what some people crave in order to produce their best work.

You raise a great point: You're being creative even if what you're writing is awful. The only way is up.
You are creating (Being creative) by just doing.

I think what discourages a lot of people is that what they're writing isn't 'hit' quality. Of course it isn't going to be great every time and that's really what I meant; You can't sit down and expect your best work each time and every time. If it were that simple then almost everybody would have album after album of faultless material.
thumbsupthumbsup

The way I like to look at things is like this : I've got a million pieces of music locked up in my psyche. Some are terrible, most are mid-line, a bunch are great, and a handful are life changing. The life changing ones are lined up in the que like all the rest - let's say they are numbers #87, #273, #412. For me to GET to #87, I've got to write 86 pieces FIRST. THat requires dicipline, not waiting for the muse. When #87 hits, life is going to change. I will be jumping and skipping all around.

But those 86.......oy!!! Got to get them out of the que. heh heh And number #412?? I can't face that far ahead this morning.....

THAT's how I look at writing. The beauty of writing / producing every day is that I am getting DAMN fast and growing faster and better all the time. My choices get more musical. My facility gets better. I hone my listening skills. My playing gets better. My musical vocabulary gets "wider". My instincts get sharpened. It's a win, win, win. And the bottom line is, SOMEONE will buy even the crap stuff. heh heh

bp

PS - today is #1184. Literally. It's mid-line at best.
Old 29th December 2010
  #34
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Colonel Blues's Avatar
When creating, DO NOT plug anything in your recording set ! Just take a guitar or piano or tambourine and let go out your "mood of the day"…

If a line of lyric or a "hook" comes to you, write it down with a pen on a paper (NO computer, remember ?). tutttutttutt

Go on playing the riff or chord progression on and on, "play" with them, sing "ooohs" & "haaaaas", try some changes, a bridge will appear…

Think like you're on stage, playing with other musos… what do you expect from your drummer, bassist, keyboardist ? Imagine the audience singing with you !
Your song is building up that way…

And… only when you "see" your new song, turn on your computer and begin to track THAT song in the best possible way !

Only now is the time to enjoy all your great gear !!!

My 2 cents (in Euros, of course… heh)
Old 29th December 2010
  #35
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Mike Douaire's Avatar
 

Great thread guys.

I agree with almost everything I've read on here.

Especially about stepping away from the gear.

I come up with my best work like this:

Sitting on a couch, mindlessly watching TV, going over scales with my electric unplugged.

After some warm up and practice time, i start expanding my practice by jumping all over the place. Then I start practicing weird chord voicings.

Then I just mess around. When I mess around mindlessly, I come up with pretty good stuff.

If something really sticks out, I pull out my phone, and hit record of my Voice Memo.

Then I practice it a few more times, to make sure I'll remember what I did. Then I move on. I dont dwell on a riff. I give it a week, let it simmer. If I'm still stoked about it, I review other things, see if I can't piece it together like a puzzle. Or better yet, I just show my band, we jam on a riff, and out pops a song.

When I sit down to write a song, I always walk away disappointed. Can't force it, it either happens or it doesnt.

But that's critical writing for band/artsy stuff. If I was writing jingles and commercialized music, then that would be COMPLETELY different.

Be inspired by knowing that youre part of the elite group that can actually write and contribute to the art of music as opposed to just a listener!
Old 29th December 2010
  #36
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Hammer Mark's Avatar
Find a collaborator. Having someone else to work with can be very productive. The right person will encourage you to develop the best of your ideas, will have complementary abilities, and will have their own good ideas to contribute.
Old 29th December 2010
  #37
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Lackatee's Avatar
I'm probably repeating a lot of what's been said already, but.. Here's my experience on the matter. These are just general ideas or thoughts that have helped me in tough times. They are not my assessment of "you" - Just things I've noticed in my own times of musical despair.


1. Too much pressure and high expectations on yourself will stop you dead in your creative tracks.

2. Low self esteem, depression and anxiety suck the creative life right out of you. If you have "messy" life issues, this will most definitely affect your creative process. Clean up around you so that you can think straight and get back to what you love the most. - There's way more inspiration in a clean room, then a dirty one.

3. Let it flow - One thing that I have found that works wonders when I'm down an out in creative land, is picking a song I like and covering it in my own style. You'd be surprised how many great ideas you get from just seeing how someone else's music is laid out after you've reverse engineered it. Hell, some of my best songs are tracks that were meant to be covers and took an unexpected turn and became "my song" and sound nothing like the song I was trying copy.

4. Free yourself of any clutter in your creative space. Its amazing how much a cluttered space affects your ability to think straight. For me, it sucks the creative life out everything. It can really affect your ideas in a negative way... Don't be a hoarder.

5. Be positive about everything and don't deny a musical idea even if you think it sucks at first. And by all means, no inner self talk that cuts you down like a knife. Dont beat yourself up, music is supposed to be fun and good energy, not pressure and anxiety. After you are feeling more comfortable and inspired you can go back to being more critical about your musical choices.. But you got to get out of the ditch first!

6. Grab a copy of the "The Artists Way" - A great book that I recommend to EVERY creative soul on this planet!

I hope these things can help you! Its very depressing having writers block, but there's light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone has given you some great tips and tricks that will most definitely get you back into the swing of things if you follow them.

I wish you all the best.
Old 29th December 2010
  #38
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I've been stuck in that rut for a long time - for lots of reasons.

1. I've worked primarily alone for far too long.. works for some people, but apparently I need to bounce ideas off of others.

2. Too many toys and tools.. when I had a simple setup, I was forced to be creative - now there's a button for everything.. it has made me lazy.

3. Workflow.. it's FAR too easy now to go down a rat-hole of tweaking. You've got record-ready drums blasting - but haven't written the chorus yet.

4. Didn't use it.. and lost it. I believe that creativity is a bit like muscle tone - if you don't use it, you lose it.. and it takes some work to get it back.

5. Life got in the way. Nothing like having a project derailed because work gets busy, kids get sick, have to leave town, etc.. to really kill the creative flow. Do that over several years - you eventually give up somewhat.

I finally have a great space to create in.. so I'm trying to get back to it - the room is certainly inspiring.
Old 29th December 2010
  #39
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AnthonyRochester's Avatar
 

Lackatee, I agree with the cleaning up points. I find I can't make music unless my studio is tidy.

Most of my best melodies have come from driving somewhere in my car alone. Turn the radio off and just sing whatever comes into your head. No one can hear you, you can be as silly as you want, and you don't have instruments or gear to constrain your ideas. If you have the melody and some lyrics, the chords and all of the production follows easily.
Old 29th December 2010
  #40
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No ones mentioned marijuana yet?
Old 29th December 2010
  #41
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John Nonjohn's Avatar
 

If you play a chord-based instrument, try playing something you know how to play. Now, change up a chord or two. What was that? A modally borrowed IV chord? Well cool! Try a different groove or rhythmic feel . . . Wow, that's more like jazz! Next, change up the melody a little bit . . . variations on themes, even! Now, maybe you are inspired a little bit . . . yes?
Old 29th December 2010
  #42
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Unclenny's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
PS - today is #1184. Literally. It's mid-line at best.
Yeah....you represent the other side of this coin.

On the occasion that I have been called upon to produce a song for a specific reason it has been a different deal than the creative efforts that most of us are posting about.

I have been thinking lately about the difference between writing from the 'head' and writing from the 'heart'......or more specifically, writing as a hobbyist and writing as a professional.

Very different gigs.
Old 29th December 2010
  #43
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Old Goat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenny View Post
Yeah....you represent the other side of this coin.

On the occasion that I have been called upon to produce a song for a specific reason it has been a different deal than the creative efforts that most of us are posting about.

I have been thinking lately about the difference between writing from the 'head' and writing from the 'heart'......or more specifically, writing as a hobbyist and writing as a professional.

Very different gigs.
I agree completely. The hardest song I ever wrote was the one my daughter asked for to play on our dance after her wedding.
Old 30th December 2010
  #44
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metrognome's Avatar
 

Wow, this is a really great thread. I too have gone through some pretty frustrating writers block for the last couple years. It got the point where I was hardly even listening to music, aside from the bands that came through my studio. Like many others, I developed a bad habit of setting up for a full on tracking session, before a song was even written, which led the "30 second snippets" syndrome. A few months ago I finally completed a song, for the first time in a long while. The only way I was able to do this was by literally turning off everything in the control room, and getting re-acquainted with my acoustic guitar for a few days. I found my self longing to get back to my guitar...a feeling I dearly missed. I had forgotten the whole reason why I became an audio engineer...music! Staring at Pro Tools and tweaking nobs day in day out can really trick me into thinking that music and engineering are equals. The truth is, a great song recorded poorly will still resonate with people, but a mediocre song recorded great is still just mediocre.
Old 30th December 2010
  #45
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Colonel Blues's Avatar
Great ! Just another version of what I said : play music, NO COMPUTER first ! Thanks !

Quote:
Originally Posted by metrognome View Post
Wow, this is a really great thread. I too have gone through some pretty frustrating writers block for the last couple years. It got the point where I was hardly even listening to music, aside from the bands that came through my studio. Like many others, I developed a bad habit of setting up for a full on tracking session, before a song was even written, which led the "30 second snippets" syndrome. A few months ago I finally completed a song, for the first time in a long while. The only way I was able to do this was by literally turning off everything in the control room, and getting re-acquainted with my acoustic guitar for a few days. I found my self longing to get back to my guitar...a feeling I dearly missed. I had forgotten the whole reason why I became an audio engineer...music! Staring at Pro Tools and tweaking nobs day in day out can really trick me into thinking that music and engineering are equals. The truth is, a great song recorded poorly will still resonate with people, but a mediocre song recorded great is still just mediocre.
Old 30th December 2010
  #46
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Lackatee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Heimel View Post
No ones mentioned marijuana yet?
Because its not really an intelligent choice or an effective solution to writers block. Its extremely temporary - after the first initial 15 minutes of brilliance, your right back to square one.

If anything, drugs make you a worse musician and songwriter overall, not a better one. You'll eventually find that you think you "need" pot to write a good song, and without it everything sucks.. Not a good road to be traveling...

Free your mind and the rest will follow.
Old 30th December 2010
  #47
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metrognome's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Blues View Post
Great ! Just another version of what I said : play music, NO COMPUTER first ! Thanks !
Indeed. This seems to be a common method...because it works! Recording gear is meant to capture and preserve music, not act as a crutch for songwriting.
Old 30th December 2010
  #48
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Mark Kaufman's Avatar
 

Gear makes the clothes, but you make the baby.
Old 30th December 2010
  #49
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Colonel Blues's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman View Post
Gear makes the clothes, but you make the baby.
+1000, dear Mark !
Old 30th December 2010
  #50
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Old Goat's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by metrognome View Post
Indeed. This seems to be a common method...because it works! Recording gear is meant to capture and preserve music, not act as a crutch for songwriting.
Yeah, I write on a yellow legal pad in pencil, then noodle around on the guitar until it's getting close, then I put down a rough track so if I get distracted (oh, look, a butterfly!) I won't forget everything.
Old 30th December 2010
  #51
Gear Guru
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dsl View Post
I've found that the best way to break through is to complete every song I start - no matter how bad I think it is.
thumbsup

a lot of well-known successful songwriters subscribe to this system
Old 30th December 2010
  #52
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Keep a dream journal. Doing this opens the unconscious mind. Stuff starts coming out.
Old 30th December 2010
  #53
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Newcleardaze's Avatar
 

I've recently come out of a 1 1/2 year rut. I've written maybe 3 or 4 songs in that time and only one worth keeping (it's OK.) Mostly "life stuff" getting in the way and blocking up the head.

Got out of it by finding a few people to jam with -- initially they started things out, and I've slowly (over the last few months) finally broke free of my blockage. This worked for me this time.

Other than this, DrBill is right on track. Discipline and getting your brain to open up on command via repetition and training.
Old 30th December 2010
  #54
Gear Addict
 

I often find desperation and impending mortality to be a good motivator. And hard work.
Old 30th December 2010
  #55
Gear Maniac
 

I've noticed other songwriters and authors talking about how you don't really write the song/story, you already have it in you waiting to come out.
That's what I believe, maybe your current writers block is meant to be and more songs are brewing inside you wanting to burst when the time is right.
Old 30th December 2010
  #56
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vincentvangogo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Kaufman View Post
Gear makes the clothes, but you make the baby.
And making babies should be fun.
Old 30th December 2010
  #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colonel Blues View Post
Great ! Just another version of what I said : play music, NO COMPUTER first ! Thanks !
Well.. thing is I've been known to make a lot of electronic music.. and I kinda need the computer for that..

but it's kind of an old story.. the idea of getting away from the computer for the starting part of a project... I mean.. for me the thing is that the computer effects how you think.. and that's kinda the problem.

I have.. well when I'm really on my A game..

Well ok.. so as a guitarist.. I'll be picking up guitar regularly.. viewing my playing as a kind of living breathing thing.. and its like a plant you gotta water all the time if you want it to thrive..

There's two levels to that.. one is improving as a guitarist.. another is.. more idea flow kinda stuff.

In any event.. if I'm picking it up all the time there are always little ideas I'm working on.

Now when I come to the computer.. I don't have to have a finished song really. I just have to have my ideas.. my stuff to work with.

But as I say.. well you know.. particularly if you do electronic music.. there's programs that we might classify as "song writing programs." Ways that the software can aid you in your song writing process.

Like i play guitar.. I don't play a keyboard or anything else.. or at least I don't play that stuff well.. but I can say "ok, you play this thing here" and I can hit the play button, here it played back.. make a judgement in a way that would be faster then.. some other process.

I find this incredibly useful in the electronic music I write because.. I don't have to judge what I'm doing.. I can just hit play and go "how does that sound?"

So my feeling is that.. it's kinda important to examine our relationship with technology as it related to the creative process.

Ummm..

Oh here's another bit of crazyness.. sometimes I'll roll dice.. sometimes its to make music via chance.. sometimes it's a 12 sided die to work out what sorta scale I'll be in.
Old 30th December 2010
  #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
The way I like to look at things is like this : I've got a million pieces of music locked up in my psyche. Some are terrible, most are mid-line, a bunch are great, and a handful are life changing. The life changing ones are lined up in the que like all the rest - let's say they are numbers #87, #273, #412. For me to GET to #87, I've got to write 86 pieces FIRST. THat requires dicipline, not waiting for the muse. When #87 hits, life is going to change. I will be jumping and skipping all around.
With all due respect, I don't think that this concept makes much sense It would make sense if your mind was immune to outside inspiration, but the fact is that unless you believe in determinism, what you write depends quite significantly on the experiences that you have; so the "que" is shuffling around all the time.....it's not in stasis waiting for you to gorge yourself on the unsatisfactory compositions before it presents you with one you like......

in my opinion

I'm not saying that discipline and practice are not important, because they absolutely are. I may have taken your analogy too literally heh
Old 30th December 2010
  #59
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Oh i was just thinking this..

I find that different software forces you to work different ways.. so sometimes I find changing what software I'm working with.. will help.

So for instance.. my main production environment in Digital Performer.. but also on my computer is Ableton Live and Record + Reason..

So I went out and started playing with record.. working on a new project. I don't know if it sucks or not, or will suck or not.. but just the change seems to have helped a good deal.

For instance.. the sound pallet for electronic music is very different.. I'm not sure if I hate it or not yet.. I mean I've used these sounds in the past.. but its been a while.. and.. I'm used to having like 15 or so aux sends and record limits you to 8.. so there are these different constraints..

And then its just a totally different way of working.

What I find is that it's as if there's a different set of muscles involved.. so by working out these muscles.. when I go back to DP.. I'll be thinking differently.. and that will help.
Old 30th December 2010
  #60
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hsara's Avatar
 

Just record

To me, the best trick is just record some **** and don't really think about what it is, or how it sounds. Then when I have something down, like a bass line, or maybe just some fx, or some arpeggio flowing, I tend to start jamming over it and ideas pop out.

The end result varies though, from totally crap, to sometimes surprisingly good. But it keeps the juices flowing. IMHO too much equipment can slow you down, so even though I have loads of stuff now, I tend to decide beforehand that I will only use that synth, those samples, and maybe a guitar. That way I can focus on creating instead of noodling.

Another person also wrote this, but whenever I start on something I always finish it. Never let ideas go to waste without exploring them fully. I mean, you never can really finish something, but you just get a feeling when a song is done, but never stop until that feeling comes. These things have no rules. It's more gut than brain for me.
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