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Old 03-29-2012, 05:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default My guitar dilemma.

So basically, I think my problem is creativity or the lack of know-how which would enable me to be more creative. I'm a fast learner and I've been told by fellow guitar players that I pick up stuff a lot faster than they do, and theyve been playing a lot longer than I have. I have some friends who have been playing twice as long as I have and I can play just about anything they can. My only real problem is when it comes to creating. I have trouble coming up with my own stuff. I'm no Hendrix, i find it to be very hard to be able to create music without having much knowledge when it comes to the technical side of things. I think learning some theory helps to guide you when it comes to creating your own music.

I need some kind of spark to ignite me into writing my own music. Maybe there isn't one, I don't know. Has anyone ever gone through this sort of thing? Does anyone have any tips or thoughts, maybe some books I could pick up? Im just kinda lost. Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is just me. Don't know how anyone else thinks. When I'm writing a song, the more theory I try to put in it, the more mechanical it sounds. I just noodle a bit on my guitar, and find a riff and/or chord progression I like. And write lyrics for it. Then I work on an intro/outro and any type of bridge I may need. I make a loop and play some improv over it to get a closer feel as to whether I would want a solo. Its all one fluid motion. After its "done", I realize I don't like it, and I change parts; whether it be the rhythm or the riff itself or whatever. Also, I don't plan out the melody. I make one up as I sing it to myself while adjusting the lyrics to fit. If I don't like it, I start over.

And as for creating solos, they are comprised entirely of improvisation. While a jam to the loop, I usually find a lick or two I like. I try to incorporate them into the solo when I play it. And that's how I write a song lol. That probably doesn't help at all :P Sorry.
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by blastingas10 View Post
So basically, I think my problem is creativity or the lack of know-how which would enable me to be more creative. I'm a fast learner and I've been told by fellow guitar players that I pick up stuff a lot faster than they do, and theyve been playing a lot longer than I have. I have some friends who have been playing twice as long as I have and I can play just about anything they can. My only real problem is when it comes to creating. I have trouble coming up with my own stuff. I'm no Hendrix, i find it to be very hard to be able to create music without having much knowledge when it comes to the technical side of things. I think learning some theory helps to guide you when it comes to creating your own music.

I need some kind of spark to ignite me into writing my own music. Maybe there isn't one, I don't know. Has anyone ever gone through this sort of thing? Does anyone have any tips or thoughts, maybe some books I could pick up? Im just kinda lost. Any help would be appreciated.
I vote in favor of listening to a wide array of great guitar playing to help get the ideas percolating:











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Old 03-30-2012, 12:52 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I do listen to a lot of the stuff you posted.

My solos are improvised as well when I do write songs. Sometimes I think too much, so in a way I agree with you, peppermint. But I guess what I'm saying is, It would be helpful to know how to form a chord progression, what chords sound good together, What scales go good with certain chords. I tend to have trouble with my strumming patterns. Sometimes I tend to use the same strumming pattern on each chord of the progression. That gets really boring. I tend to struggle with chord progressions in general. My lead guitar playIng is better than my rhythm.
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Old 03-30-2012, 07:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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But I guess what I'm saying is, It would be helpful to know how to form a chord progression, what chords sound good together, What scales go good with certain chords. I tend to have trouble with my strumming patterns. Sometimes I tend to use the same strumming pattern on each chord of the progression. That gets really boring. I tend to struggle with chord progressions in general. My lead guitar playIng is better than my rhythm.
Those are all very valid concerns from a compositional standpoint. I guess it also depends on what style of music you're trying to create. I can't imagine someone writing a furious 3 chord punk rock tune stressing over playing the riff with a Asus2 or an A7 or just a regular Amajor. Don't think I'm dismissing your concerns with this suggestion either but, those cheesy looking guitar chord and scale posters like this - Amazon.com: Guitar Scales Poster: 22 inch. x 34 inch. (9780634060892): Hal Leonard Corp.: Books - are actually jam packed with the knowledge you're looking for, and presented in a much more streamlined way than those '... for dummies' self-teaching books. Being in poster form it's also way easier to slap them up on the wall so you can easily absorb the knowledge or find that next chord or note without having to put your instrument down (there's a 3 pack for chords, scales, and theory respectively if you scroll down that Amazon page a little).

Funky syncopated strumming patterns have actually been one of the more challenging techniques I've noticed with other players. It's all about practice and feel. Do you play drums at all? It sounds odd but there's a bit of a percussive role in your strumming hand that parallels keeping a beat (especially on hand drums).

Speaking of your lead playing being superior to your rhythm (assuming you mean you're better at single note noodling than chords) have you ever considered bass? There's no need to abandon one for the other but as the scope of your experiences expands the depth of your technique and ability increases.
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Old 03-30-2012, 08:30 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I do listen to a lot of the stuff you posted.
I think you may have missed what I was getting that there. Yes, I posted a few songs that I think have great guitar playing in various styles, but I wasn't saying those artists or those particular songs are the the answer to your dilemma. I was saying if you feel stuck, listen closely to how other people approach songwriting. Break the songs down, think about how they're structured. The more music—and the wider variety of music—that you do this with, the more chance you have of new ideas being sparked in your head.
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Old 03-30-2012, 08:32 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I totally agree with both of those comments.

No I don't play drums but just yesterday I was thinking about the percussive role in rhythm guitar playing and how playing with a drummer could help my strumming patterns.

I'm not sure I know what you mean by "single-note noodling". Isn't that what lead guitar is?

I was playing bass the other day and was thinking about how I might be better at that than guitar. I plan on buying a bass sometime.

And I agree that jamming with other people helps you as a player. I need to do it more. Even jamming along with a jam track can really help your lead guitar playing. It's hard to solo when there's no rhythm.
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Old 03-30-2012, 09:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm not sure I know what you mean by "single-note noodling". Isn't that what lead guitar is?
For the most part it's what it has become but when you listen to a lot of early guitar solos playing 'lead' was more about replicating the main vocal melody of the song through the instrument. Though at this point it seems to be far more about showcasing the guitarist's technique.

The reason I mention the link with playing bass is that for the most part bass is just single note noodling and rhythmic melody as opposed to virtuosic melody like a lead player (for lack of better terms).

Also the fact that you're already contemplating the correlation between the various aspects of playing different instruments and how they relate to yours is a great sign. After all, it's ALL about playing music, the only reason you can't apply knowledge, theory, ability, style, whatever from a different instrument to yours is an entirely self-imposed limit.

Do you have any jam buddies yet? I developed far more as a musician within a year of playing with others (maybe twice a month) than I did by playing guitar by myself everyday for 5 years.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:07 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Now I see what you mean about "noodling".

Ive thought the same thing about bass. Single-note noodling is the one thing I really have a grasp on. I struggle with creating melodies and chord progressions and that's led me to believe that I should make an investment in a bass. It just seems simpler. But guitar is still something I have a passion for and I desire to learn how to harness the instrument.

A lot of my friends play instruments, so you'd think it'd be no problem having some jam buddies. Unfortunately I work a lot and I don't always have time. It's a bummer. I've jammed with them a few times and it's really fun. I've always imagined that jamming with other people would really expand your horizons instrumentally.
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Old 03-30-2012, 03:28 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think really the problem is your idea of what songwriting is is colouring your approach.

Songwriting is not about knowing what you're doing at all times.

Just sit down, throw your fingers into some random shapes and patterns and play chords. If you find one you like, listen to it and try and use a note within it to imply a leading note, then improvise another chord shape around that leading note.

If you keep doing that you'll find a lot of cool new progressions very quickly.

Alternatively, just get a drum loop of something you like (The drum pattern from Steve Vai's "The Animal" is a good one), and improvise over it. If you find yourself coming back to a specific improvisation because it sounds good, then use that and build a song off it. Then later on you can change the drum pattern to something a bit more interesting than the one loop, and that isn't just a direct copy.

Hell, you can do that with any part of any music. Even chord progressions or basslines. Just write a song around someone elses ideas and replace the bit you stole right at the end with something else.

That's great songwriting practice. It gives you a foundation to work from which you can use intuitively, rather than focusing on some imaginary songwriting toolbox or set of rules.
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