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Composers block...what do you do?

Anything about MUSIC but doesn't fit into the forums above.

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KVRer
 
6 posts since 9 Jan, 2014

Postby Dazzyst; Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:37 am Composers block...what do you do?

Hi All,

I'm old..very old at 45 but I like to create dance / trance music. I was a huge fan of the typical 80's bands such as Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Human League, etc. In fact, they are what inspired me when I was a lot younger in playing the synth!

Here's the predicament I'm in. I can create fantastic short fills, perhaps 4 to 8 bars long but then I lose it. No inspiration left, maybe? No idea of the next chord progression, probably, start getting distracted when I play a different sound, definitely, so I end up leaving it for another day and start all over again with more great fills or parts!

I've been the same since I was 18 but back then I was playing with another guy who had the 'talent' in piecing all the bits together and fathoming out what should come next in a song.

I'm sure it's down to a lack of formal training in terms of chord progression but I'm not going to start going to a piano teacher so I'm turning my problem over to the wider, far more experienced community to see if you can help me.

Cheers
Dazz
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KVRAF
 
7367 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:48 am Re: Composers block...what do you do?

A GOOD (modern) piano teacher is not the worst thing...

But you could also read "The Songwriter's Workshop: Melody" by Jimmy Kachulis, it's a pretty good book to learn composing!
KVRian
 
732 posts since 28 Oct, 2004

Postby larm; Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:52 am Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Steal the general structure from a song you like? Like 8 bars of this, 4 bars of that and then outro here, ooh look a scale change and we do 8+4 again.
KVRer
 
6 posts since 9 Jan, 2014

Postby Dazzyst; Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:56 am Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Thanks for the replies. They are useful.

I was wondering if there was some magic bullet, formula, technique that states if you're playing in C minor, for example, the next logical progression of chords or notes would be X, etc?
KVRAF
 
1567 posts since 13 Mar, 2004

Postby No_Use; Thu Jan 09, 2014 11:57 am Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Push yourself to work horizontally instead of vertically when doing a new track.
What I mean is don't get stuck on that beautiful 4-bar loop forever stacking sound after sound, tweaking to perfection etc. The loop disease ! :D
Instead try to get a basic song structure going as soon as possible and care for the fiddly details later.
KVRer
 
6 posts since 9 Jan, 2014

Postby Dazzyst; Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:05 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

That's what I find hard No_Use to a certain extent. I don't, currently, fiddle too much with synth presets or effects as I'm to new to the soft synth world. What I need to learn is this 'basic song structure' you mention.
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KVRist
 
255 posts since 7 Jun, 2008, from On this 1 world!
 

Postby Delfinoverde; Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:14 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Best of is = help yourself.
But why do you consider yourself as old with just 45 years?
Well, all people who compose may have blocks from time to time… you can't force the "flow" but you can get inspiration and new ideas. First of all you got to have the melodies in your head. A good method i practice is: recording segments of a piece/song in a spontaneous way, following i add what i think it's fitting well, then the piece gets a more and more solid structure.

Perfectionism can sometimes block you from being intuitive/spontaneous. Mainstream music is also mostly rigid/repetitive in its structures, i recommend you to listen to other styles of music as for example Ambient! I'm into this kind of music because it gives me the maximum of freedom of expression. Also listening to non-western music could help to find new inspiration and horizons. Music is one of the few Arts that allows you to express what you feel without any limitation.
KVRAF
 
1567 posts since 13 Mar, 2004

Postby No_Use; Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:15 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Agreed, not easy.
I'm with the poster above on this (larm), maybe take inspiration (for avoiding "steal" :D) from structures of songs you like. Sometimes when the writers block gets me I even try to cover (meaning recreating as close as possible) some of my favourite tracks (always much to learn there, for me anyway).
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KVRAF
 
7367 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:15 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Dazzyst wrote:Thanks for the replies. They are useful.

I was wondering if there was some magic bullet, formula, technique that states if you're playing in C minor, for example, the next logical progression of chords or notes would be X, etc?
Well, I'm sure that a oldskool piano teacher could teach you for years about different techniques -- but

...in the end it's always "call" and "response", a mix of repetition and variation.

And there are different ways, I -> IV, I -> III, I -> V, I -> VI etc.

I don't know any magic formula...
KVRer
 
6 posts since 9 Jan, 2014

Postby Dazzyst; Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:29 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

When I listen to the type of music I enjoy I do feel inspired and that's when I attempt my own work. I simply get stuck. I could create a very decent verse or chorus but that's when it stops. For example, I create a great verse but then I don't know how to create a great chorus and vice-versa. I'm all in to creating limited repetition in order to create a whole song, and I'm able to create slight variances in order for it to not become boring to listen to but that's where my talent ends.

Perhaps there should be some kind of sound block sharing forum, where I could send my block of music and someone creates the next block and so on?
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KVRAF
 
7367 posts since 12 Mar, 2012, from South Bavaria - near the alps... :-)

Postby Tricky-Loops; Thu Jan 09, 2014 12:40 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

Dazzyst wrote:Perhaps there should be some kind of sound block sharing forum, where I could send my block of music and someone creates the next block and so on?
That's what bands tend to do... (except those which have a talented chief songwriter)
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KVRist
 
255 posts since 7 Jun, 2008, from On this 1 world!
 

Postby Delfinoverde; Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:02 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

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addled muppet weed
 
33877 posts since 25 Jan, 2003, from through the looking glass
 

Postby vurt; Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:22 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

i suck a big fat one.
doobie that is.


little gift for mike there for the new forum :-)
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KVRAF
 
18452 posts since 26 Jul, 2005, from Inside Schroedinger's Cat...or am I...

Postby robojam; Thu Jan 09, 2014 1:26 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

vurt wrote:little gift for mike there for the new forum :-)

On my way... :hihi:
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KVRAF
 
2371 posts since 9 Jan, 2003, from Saint Louis MO
  

Postby foosnark; Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:00 pm Re: Composers block...what do you do?

-- If you can't figure out what comes next, figure out what came before it. If you can't figure that out either, figure out all the things you can layer on top of what you already have -- and turn it into variations of various layers. Or go into sound designer mode and tweak and mangle what you have. The idea is to change gears and go around the "block."

-- If you can't put a melody or chord progression together, write something that uses a single base chord or something that is 100% rhythmic and atonal. (Usually after working with a single chord for a while, I will try a variation with a second one... nudge it until it fits together, and that might suggest more and it starts flowing from there. Or I stick with one or two chords. But then, I don't write very conventional music.) Again, go around the block.

-- If you can't get the sound you want in a particular genre, break the genre and do whatever comes to you.

-- Study theory a bit -- and also play. Play stuff by ear, learn to improvise, explore the relationships of keys on a keyboard or strings and frets on a guitar/bass or intervals on a chromatically mapped drum pad or whatever. Get some semi-versatile hand percussion like a frame drum, doumbek or djembe and jam on that. Drum on your steering wheel or hum/sing harmony along with music on the car radio -- preferably not in unison with what's already there, but complimentary to it. Make rhythm and improvisation physical instincts. This makes it easier to write music and to inspire yourself.
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