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Stuck with my music and need advice

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Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby RoyZ » Sat Jan 16, 2016 2:43 am

Hi everyone,

It took me a long time to get myself to ask for an advice about this but I surely need one.

My situation is this: during the years I have written and composed parts of songs, lyrics and melodies. I also have just two "complete songs" that I just spontaneously wrote and composed all the way to their completion (singing and guitar playing), but I have "a ton" of parts and pieces, a few hundreds recordings of ideas in the recorder and on the PC..

My problem is that I find it hard developing these musical ideas (which could sometimes be a verse or a chorus) to full, complete songs.
maybe I've managed to complete those two songs because I wrote the lyrics first, by going with the melody or music first, it's like a puzzle I can't put together. But I have many musical ideas that I don't want to give up!

I have another issue, when it comes to playing instruments, I feel like I'm "maxed out". It's not about music theory though, I think it's about maxing out on what I can achieve by myself.
I own and play a few instruments, let me name a few just so you could know me better (in the order of my capability):
1.classic guitar 2.electric guitar 3.bass guitar 4.keyboard 5.congas 6.and a few more..

I have no problem coming up with musical ideas like melodies for singing or guitar playing or bass lines or even horn section parts, but I can't put it all together, I can't build or develop it. I think it might be due to the fact I am always playing alone. but thinking about it, even if I would've jammed with someone, that wouldn't help me build and develop my own material (those parts I got). Me recording myself playing different instruments in layers (channels) could potentially take me a tiny step forward but I find it counter-productive and limiting and I still couldn't create a complete song but just an opening and a verse maybe.

It seems like I need some help. do I need a producer to help me? what would you recommend I should do in order to able to move forward? I feel like years are passing by (I'm 32 y/o) and I have great material (in my opinion) that I would've liked to be developed and completed but it doesn't go anywhere. which is a little frustrating.. :frown:

I'll appreciate any advice! Thanks a lot.

Roy.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Alba » Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:23 am

Would you consider yourself a scientific person? By that i mean ordered, methodical and organised. Or are you more impulsive and spontaneous, dreamy and random?

I'm the latter btw. I spent years writing in the wrong way!

I would get a part, write it down, get another part, order the verses and choruses and bridges, intros and outros etc. Have it all perfectly organised and the work came like stiff fudge from a sweet machine on a cold day.

When the work really started to flow was when, like you, i found that i had done a couple of tunes completely on the fly, start to finish. I started to wonder if i had been missing something.

Pretty much all the 'work' i do now is writing the songs down after i've played them. Perhaps tweaking some lyrics or changing the arrangement. But most of it is pretty much as it came out of me/us (i have a part-time partner that i see every few weeks) via the muse.

I never write songs, i don't bother because its a waste of time.

If i get a nice 'bit' i just play it for a while for my own pleasure which embeds it and then its in my head and my fingers. It may come out when i'm playing, it may not. But i'm not bothered.

I don't care if i have the best bloody 'bit' in the world and never use it. I just wasn't meant to be. Or perhaps in twenty years the muse will find it and pass it to me at the appropriate time.

So all those bits? I wouldn't worry about using them. Don't throw them away either, keep everything but down't feel they are unfinished letters that you really meant to send to a friend. That the friend will be cheated in some way if you don't finish them. Just leave them and let them mature and cook up for as long as it takes for them to become useful to you.... at the appropriate time.... or not.

Keep it simple. Don't try to be too clever. Just play what you feel. If you walk walk into a cafe and meet someone you never met before who happens to have something very random, (say, three squirrels on a lead) you don't need to write down what your going to say before you talk to them. You just talk to them. It all just comes out. I tend to look at song writing like that.

As many are still in mourning for the absolute master of simplicity... here's a quote from him.

Most of what I do is really very simple. I just maybe make different choices to other people.

These days, when in the mood, i just put a mic up, i hit the record button and play for an hour or so, sometimes less or more. Then listen back, perhaps that day perhaps another day and i see what's in the jamboree bag.

Changed my musical life.

Just some thoughts for you. Good Luck!
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby BJG145 » Sat Jan 16, 2016 10:34 am

RoyZ wrote:I find it hard developing these musical ideas (which could sometimes be a verse or a chorus) to full, complete songs.
maybe I've managed to complete those two songs because I wrote the lyrics first, by going with the melody or music first, it's like a puzzle I can't put together.


You've answered your own question here. Work on completing the lyrics. Otherwise you've got nothing to guide or drive your music; your wheels just spin in the mud.


RoyZ wrote:I think it might be due to the fact I am always playing alone. but thinking about it, even if I would've jammed with someone, that wouldn't help me build and develop my own material (those parts I got).


It would though, if they were any good. Playing with decent musicians is always inspiring.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby RoyZ » Sat Jan 16, 2016 12:54 pm

Thanks a lot for your replies, I really appreciate it!

Looking forward to hearing more opinions..

Thanks again!
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby shufflebeat » Sat Jan 16, 2016 12:57 pm

I'd be surprised and impressed if anyone here can offer you a complete and guaranteed solution but there will be good ideas that others have found useful.

Playing with other people is a fantastic way to develop your own skills. If they're good you can learn from their example and if they're not you can learn from their mistakes (which they can't see but you can).

One great skill which is often important to a good producer is the ability to 'zoom' in and out of a particular piece, focusing one minute on a fine detail and switching (or simultaneously maintaining awareness of) the grand flow and overarching themes of the whole. By the whole I mean the music itself and the process by which it is being composed/arranged/recorded. This variable perspective keeps tbe details inspired but gets the job finished.

I suspect you will come to realise that the position you find yourself in is not uncommon and many folks have found their own way to jump-start progress.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby blinddrew » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:00 pm

as well as the suggestions above, it's worth thinking about the whole thing in a structured way.
If what you're doing now isn't working, try something else.
Suggestions:
- find someone else to collaborate with
- find a jam night somewhere you can keep playing inventively without the need to try and "capture" the ideas
- Write a melody without an instrument (go for a walk and sing the tune)
- Make some dedicated time, sit with a pen and paper somewhere quiet, and write a full set of lyrics. Allow yourself a few hours to do this, but complete it.
- Take a handful of "bits" you've already written and find a way to force them together. It doesn't matter if it doesn't work so well initially, it's just practice.
- go somewhere inspiring with a notepad and write something whilst you're there.
- write a story, it doesn't have to scan or rhyme, then fit it to some music.
- take a phrase you like the sound of, stick it into google, drag any interesting snippets from the search results and make a set of lyrics from it.
- think about tension and release. Songs are all about the balance of these two, decide what each section of the song is for.
- deliberately leave spaces in both the melody and the lyrics. Space in the melody leaves room for other instruments to shine, space in the lyrics leaves space for the listener to interpret things.
- all of the above
- none of the above!

Seriously though, try something different and see what works. The same technique won't work for every song so try them all.

For me, one of the biggest things that helps me complete a song is actually allowing myself time to do it properly. Unless you're a full-time musician then music tends to be something we squeeze in around our busy lives. There are always other things we could or should be doing. Set aside some time, and give yourself permission to spend 3, 4, 5 or 6 hours on a song. You're worth it ;)
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Alba » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:04 pm

shufflebeat wrote:...I suspect you will come to realise that the position you find yourself in is not uncommon and many folks have found their own way to jump-start progress.


Absolutely! I think maybe the reason its so common is due to the way we learn... we learn 'bits' when we start to play and the bits have names so that they can be identified and glued together.

Actually they often aren't glued together, they are unglued so that we can learn them :headbang:

Lots of great music is written in almost the time it took to play it ;)
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sat Jan 16, 2016 8:00 pm

Are you free tomorrow? Starting at 10.00am you're going to write and record a song. It has to be delivered by tea-time. It will be about what you had for breakfast - whether you liked it, how it made you feel, where the ingredients came from, who was exploited in the process... Plenty of scope there. Or if you have a better idea, go with it. Preferably not "lurve" or "I feel like dancing" though. But you have until 10.05 to pick a subject, then stick with it. Don't argue, do it!

Right, that one's finished. When's your next free day? This song will be about your house. If you're short of ideas, start with the brick at the bottom left-hand corner and work up. But DO it.

When you've finished 10 of these, the blockage should be shifting nicely. Good. Do another 20. DON'T go back and fiddle with the old ones. If a good idea popped up, maybe use it in tomorrow's song.

You need a deadline. You need to put the time in. You need to practice the craft. The art will follow.
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.

Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby RoyZ » Sat Jan 16, 2016 11:31 pm

Thanks a lot for all your advices and tips, I appreciate it. I get what all of you say, it's just that I find arranging pieces of music pretty difficult.. If they're fresh or older it's the same for me. Maybe I could write a song starting from lyrics, but it's not the same as starting from a melody and I can't give up on so many melodies and musical parts I already have or will come up with in the future..
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Dynamic Mike » Sun Jan 17, 2016 4:43 am

RoyZ wrote:
1.classic guitar 2.electric guitar 3.bass guitar 4.keyboard 5.congas 6.and a few more..
I find I complete more if I lay down tracks in order of playing incompetence. That way the song not only progressively gets better, it gets easier. I'm primarily a guitarist so it's always much easier to riff over a keyboard part, than it is for me to find keyboard part to complement the riff. I'm sure it won't suit everyone but I find it more rewarding & productive.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Jan 17, 2016 12:30 pm

RoyZ wrote:...it's just that...

Beware of agonising, it's not actually that important.

Enjoy the process, write a silly song, no-one's going to hear it. Even when you want people to listen to your stuff they won't so nothing to fret about. Gather the skills and the material will come.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:35 pm

Time to say this AGAIN:

You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.

It's not so much that WE don't care about your angst. YOU'VE got to stop caring about it and get on with the job. Or not. See above.

I feel a signature coming on. Can you do signatures in this forum? Lets see...

{edit} Yes you can. But it seems to retrospectively change all previous posts as well. That's crap.
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.

Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Dynamic Mike » Sun Jan 17, 2016 2:41 pm

Exalted Wombat wrote:Can you do signatures in this forum? Lets see...

{edit} Yes you can. But it seems to retrospectively change all previous posts as well. That's crap.
And occasionally a blessing. :)

Fully agree with the main post though. If you're not enjoying it just walk away. You cannot spend your way out of this, every penny you spend will increase the obligation you feel to get results. Life's short & there are already songs a-plenty, most of which will never be heard.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Alba » Sun Jan 17, 2016 2:59 pm

Or if you don't want to walk away and just like composing bits? Do library.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Exalted Wombat » Sun Jan 17, 2016 3:56 pm

The amazing thing is that, just occasionally, someone with no musical training, no apprentiship playing in bands - nothing but a bedroom full of gear and a wannabee attitude - CAN come up with something worthwhile. Particularly if they can hook it onto a social movement.

Don't count on it though :-)
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You don't have to write songs. The world doesn't want you to write songs. It would probably prefer it if you didn't. So write songs if you want to. Otherwise, dont. Go fishing instead.

Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby RoyZ » Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:30 pm

Thanks a lot again for all your replies.
I understand what all of you said though the advice of "just do it"(or don't) is not exactly what I was looking for, if I could've done it I would, it's not even about writing songs that starts from writing the complete lyrics (which I could create). I was asking for some practical advice as for how to arrange and glue musical ides (pieces) together to form something useful in a song.. as for inspiration, I have plenty of it, so that's not a problem.

As for the advice of "do it or don't and the world probably wouldn't notice".. well.. first of all I am creating music since I was a teenage (half my life) and it is a NEED for me. second, it could very much be that (regardless of who I really am since I could be anyone) the world will loose something as my songs have values. so, I need to have the advice a "great artist" (not claiming I am) should've had.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 18, 2016 9:36 pm

Ok, so how good is your musical theory? Sometimes you really need to study, starting at the basics and working your way up. If you're trying to link bits together a bit of theoretical knowledge can be worth hours of trying different progressions. I know this because I don't have the musical theory! ;¬)
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby RoyZ » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:23 pm

You are right Thanks, It's pretty fair, I have a solid base, I would say intermediate.
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby blinddrew » Mon Jan 18, 2016 10:32 pm

Well, if you can't play your way out of it, and you can't theorise your way out of it I guess you have two options: either find someone else to work with who can help you find the glue, or write short songs ;¬)
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Re: Stuck with my music and need advice

Postby Dynamic Mike » Tue Jan 19, 2016 1:54 am

Essentially you're saying you're great at writing music and crap at writing songs. So you have talent, but lack discipline. Maybe investigate a different format. Write jingles, soundtracks, anything that isn't subject to the restrictions of a intro/verse/chorus/ad nauseam format. Or just try combining what you have in a 'Bohemian Rhapsody' fashion?

Or this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REojIUxX4rw :lol:
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