Acceptance of reality

mooncobra

Well-known member
Not sure how many of you can relate to this, but I just need to vent for a minute.

So, I’ve never been able to write songs. I’ve got good chops on guitar, I’ll give myself that. I’ve got killer technique, so I don’t want to sell myself short. But I’ve tried for so long to write songs, even going so far as to try to just completely rip off other songs, and I still can’t generate anything but complete trash.

I believe it’s a gift you either have or you don’t. Who else here is in the same boat?
I’ve seen some guys who wrote great songs, but they thought they were shit. So, you never know.

I try to imagine cool songs in my mind and then go from my head to guitar.
 

mooncobra

Well-known member
Its hard alone, but with one more person its a million times easier. You have a riff then they add something to that then that gives you an idea for something else
Jam a riff with a good drummer and you can start adding to it quickly. It just happens.
 

WhiteShadow

Active member
Ok so I've got a question for you songwriters who know your theory fairly well...

Take for example popular hair metal classics from the 80s.

RATT's Round and Round. The riff from the verse is basically Eminor except there's that flat 7 (C#) in there that makes it sound more major. If played in strictly Eminor it would've not sounded the same at all. Would've sounded much darker.

Warrant's Cherry Pie's got a similar riff using that flat 7 in Eminor.

Honestly, lots of examples using that from that era.

Okay, my problem is how do you throw in notes out of key like that but still be able to solo in strict Eminor if you wanted to? I'm always scared to try to write out of key because I'm afraid its just going to end up this wonky mess that doesn't make sense.

What's the secret to this?
 

zendra

Banned
Active member
i watched a clip on that exact topic (who knew its that frequent?)

ginger bloke from queens of stone age took joe walsh to their studio in the desert and you can literally watch them explaining to joe that they need something here...tension of some sort and then a release...bla bla bla....joe plays one note in two places...sorts all the problems...boom !!

now...obvious answer to your problem is, of course : call joe walsh and play him a piece that bothers you !!!

the other solution is to literally cram all possibilities in 25 different 'takes' and ...listen !!! make your friends listen to it!

its not C...try Csharp...no?...try D...no? try Dsharp...,there's only so many combinations (12 or whatever...?)...eventually you'll stumble upon a winning combo...if it doesnt drive you nuts before...

its not like great composers own more tones than you...they just wiggle them around better...

third solution (this one is for others, not you) is, of course : get a mooltymeter and forgedaabouuoodeed !!!
 

mooncobra

Well-known member
Ok so I've got a question for you songwriters who know your theory fairly well...

Take for example popular hair metal classics from the 80s.

RATT's Round and Round. The riff from the verse is basically Eminor except there's that flat 7 (C#) in there that makes it sound more major. If played in strictly Eminor it would've not sounded the same at all. Would've sounded much darker.

Warrant's Cherry Pie's got a similar riff using that flat 7 in Eminor.

Honestly, lots of examples using that from that era.

Okay, my problem is how do you throw in notes out of key like that but still be able to solo in strict Eminor if you wanted to? I'm always scared to try to write out of key because I'm afraid its just going to end up this wonky mess that doesn't make sense.

What's the secret to this?
Don’t even think about theory when writing riffs, in your head, imagine a cool riff that comes next and figure out how to play it.
 

WhiteShadow

Active member
Don’t even think about theory when writing riffs, in your head, imagine a cool riff that comes next and figure out how to play it.
See I naturally used to not think of theory when riff writing, but then I found that the parts I was trying to string together made no sense and didn’t flow or gel. Then I thought, I probably need to learn the “rules” before I break them, so let’s look at the theory here. I started to try to stick to basic chord progressions and song formats, but still didn’t achieve good results
 

Gitfiddler

Well-known member
Ok so I've got a question for you songwriters who know your theory fairly well...

Take for example popular hair metal classics from the 80s.

RATT's Round and Round. The riff from the verse is basically Eminor except there's that flat 7 (C#) in there that makes it sound more major. If played in strictly Eminor it would've not sounded the same at all. Would've sounded much darker.

Warrant's Cherry Pie's got a similar riff using that flat 7 in Eminor.

Honestly, lots of examples using that from that era.

Okay, my problem is how do you throw in notes out of key like that but still be able to solo in strict Eminor if you wanted to? I'm always scared to try to write out of key because I'm afraid its just going to end up this wonky mess that doesn't make sense.

What's the secret to this?
If it sounds good, play it. Any haters in the theory crowd will just have to deal with it
 

lockingtuner

Active member
See I naturally used to not think of theory when riff writing, but then I found that the parts I was trying to string together made no sense and didn’t flow or gel. Then I thought, I probably need to learn the “rules” before I break them, so let’s look at the theory here. I started to try to stick to basic chord progressions and song formats, but still didn’t achieve good results
The parts you wrote probably did make sense. Where theory steps in is to bridge the gap between your understanding of what you're hearing when you're creating your parts and what the music's really doing. For example: you hear a sweet riff in your head and you don't know what key it's in, so you write it down, analyze it and discover you're in e minor, except that there's one note in your riff that isn't in the scale. Are you wrong? You may think so and get discouraged until you read about modes and discover you're actually in e minor Phrygian. Now you can see more clearly what the song needs for harmonies and the kinds of chords you can use to link up with the next section you've written. This process can continue for the rest of your career and will only make you a stronger writer.
 

WhiteShadow

Active member
The parts you wrote probably did make sense. Where theory steps in is to bridge the gap between your understanding of what you're hearing when you're creating your parts and what the music's really doing. For example: you hear a sweet riff in your head and you don't know what key it's in, so you write it down, analyze it and discover you're in e minor, except that there's one note in your riff that isn't in the scale. Are you wrong? You may think so and get discouraged until you read about modes and discover you're actually in e minor Phrygian. Now you can see more clearly what the song needs for harmonies and the kinds of chords you can use to link up with the next section you've written. This process can continue for the rest of your career and will only make you a stronger writer.
Hmm, so in other words that flat 7 (C#) in eminor is basically makes it eminor mixolydian?
 

GJgo

Well-known member
have you tried writing with other musicians (even other guitar players)? sometimes that can make a difference
This. I've been playing for 30 years and never felt I had the creativity to write my own songs. Then I put a new band together, and for whatever reason these guys inspired me and in the last couple years I've written a whole album. ...now whether the songs are any good or not, not for me to say, but I did it!!
 

saxxamafone

Well-known member
Not sure how many of you can relate to this, but I just need to vent for a minute.

So, I’ve never been able to write songs. I’ve got good chops on guitar, I’ll give myself that. I’ve got killer technique, so I don’t want to sell myself short. But I’ve tried for so long to write songs, even going so far as to try to just completely rip off other songs, and I still can’t generate anything but complete trash.

I believe it’s a gift you either have or you don’t. Who else here is in the same boat?
I'm the opposite mate, I can write riffs and a decent song but actually not that good of a guitarist. I'm a tight player but definitely don't have chops compared to other guys/gals
 

squealie

Active member
I have a 'technique' for a songwriting rut.

I take the dumbest idea i have, and try to write the dumbest song I can around it. The goal, is to just write a song that is dumb.

Psychology.

When you free yourself of trying to be 'cool' or 'metal' ... now you can just write SOMETHING.

You'd be surprised.

I've learned so much and had my best ideas doing this.

But what do I know.
 

NeubyWanKaneuby

Active member
See I naturally used to not think of theory when riff writing, but then I found that the parts I was trying to string together made no sense and didn’t flow or gel. Then I thought, I probably need to learn the “rules” before I break them, so let’s look at the theory here. I started to try to stick to basic chord progressions and song formats, but still didn’t achieve good results

I know a quick and dirty video on music theory if you're interested.

 

ClintN667

Well-known member
I took lessons from Karl Sanders from Nile for a few weeks just to pick his brain about song writing. He said he just keeps his daw ready to hit record as he comes up with riffs. Then after awhile he just takes those riffs and pieces them together. He said he has a ton of songs that were just absolutely terrible but the fact that he keeps recording them he has a ton of ideas to pull from.
 

PDC

Well-known member
This is a great thread. I totally relate to OP. At my peak, I had pretty vicious chops. My practice regimen is very inconsistent these days due to work and life. But when I can hit it consistently for 5-7 days, I can get about 80-85% of my chops back to where playing is at least fun and I have a bit of confidence back. Then a big project lands on my desk and the guitars collect dust and the chops collect rust for 8-10 days. So I never really get back to my fighting shape so to speak. But I could flat NEVER come up with genuinely cool riffs and hooks that could be song. I did my best work in cover bands.
 

RaceU4her

Well-known member
I took lessons from Karl Sanders from Nile for a few weeks just to pick his brain about song writing. He said he just keeps his daw ready to hit record as he comes up with riffs. Then after awhile he just takes those riffs and pieces them together. He said he has a ton of songs that were just absolutely terrible but the fact that he keeps recording them he has a ton of ideas to pull from.


There must be literally hundreds of riffs in my phone I’ve recorded over the time I’ve had my smartphone. Every so often when I come up with a real killer one I’ll go back to the bank and see if anything flows with it and if not it just goes into the pile.
 

errrrrl

Well-known member
I took lessons from Karl Sanders from Nile for a few weeks just to pick his brain about song writing. He said he just keeps his daw ready to hit record as he comes up with riffs. Then after awhile he just takes those riffs and pieces them together. He said he has a ton of songs that were just absolutely terrible but the fact that he keeps recording them he has a ton of ideas to pull from.
Thats what I do or use my phone for quick riffs... I hardly ever go back to them but they are there. I just find myself gluing riffs together most of the time... but in my head, pretty much every riff or group of riffs I write does have a vocal melody in my head that matches it... Just wish I liked my own singing voice lol.
 
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