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Composition difficulties.

Composition difficulties.
July 08, 2009, 05:29:01 PM
I've been attempting to compose some music on my guitar for a few months now, and find myself becoming dissatisfied with what I write. I often feel that my pieces become focused on style, and while I find myself intimately acquainted with beautiful structural poetry of other artists I become confused on how to twist this powerful medium to my command. Any suggestions?

Re: Composition difficulties.
July 08, 2009, 08:27:04 PM
Write more.

Re: Composition difficulties.
July 08, 2009, 10:15:41 PM
A trained aural perception is the best rudder you have to musical composition. I think that theory is there to master the ear and to categorize its needs ... so, train your ear and listen to what it has to say, this means to listen your imagination.  Based only on theory, you will just do academic exercises or superficial innovations. 

A good literary writer is a good reader. There's a saying: "the good musician plays as much as he listens".

You surely have good taste for these issues, so it is as already suggested, a matter of practice. 

Re: Composition difficulties.
July 08, 2009, 10:28:25 PM
Write more.

Yeah, I've found this is key. I've known a lot of really skilled guitarists that fall into a trap of writing really intricate stuff that never allows itself to become a simple expression of the person's feelings, thoughts, desires, etc. I would suggest just writing and recording a few songs on your computer, waiting a few days, weeks, then listen again and take what you still like and make it better, if that's even necessary. Either way, whether you're improving on an already existing song or writing new material, just write and record some more stuff. The most important thing is to finish something. Allow yourself to go through the entire process of writing, recording, and being done with it. Soon after doing this a lot you might start to find yourself writing and recording stuff you really envisioned yourself writing from the beginning. I noticed a long time ago when I used to listen to the electronic group Boards of Canada that they have like 5+ versions of individual songs sometimes in various levels of completion, which meant it probably took them since the original version of the song, almost 10 years in some cases, to perfect it for the full length album. Approaching writing music like this, by just going through the entire writing and recording process over and over again until it feels like something is really finished, might help you.

Re: Composition difficulties.
July 09, 2009, 12:34:46 AM
I find there are two stages that lead to successful composition:

1) Immersion

2) Removal

Both should be necessary at some point before the composition reaches completion.

Step 1 should be used when you've gotten a start on a project but feel like you've hit a roadblock::

Immerse yourself in the composition.

Play it through your mind as you go about your day, hum it in the shower, anything to keep it fresh in your mind.

Let the material gestate long enough and solutions will often sprout up out of the blue. I feel like the mind solves artistic roadblocks best when it's not actively thinking about them.

Step 2 is best utilized when you feel like you're close to being finished and are trying to evaluate the merits of your project:

Put the composition completely out of mind.

Lock it in a drawer, hide it in a closet, anything to get it out of sight (and out of mind).

When you come back to it, you will be seeing the composition anew, and its strengths/weaknesses will be readily apparent.

Re: Composition difficulties.
April 28, 2012, 02:30:21 PM
Extreme youth when it is healthy is bold and fearless, and not a little inclined to rebel against tradition, however rooted in the long assent of men.

And here, gentlemen, I would not be misunderstood.

Steeped as I am to my innermost marrow in reverence for the mighty men of the past to whom Art owes whatever true sublimity it boasts; convinced, unshakably, of the vital validity of the great principles on which their achievements rest, I am yet not one of those who would refuse to Art all power of evolution, or who believe that, though assuredly it will never reach more lofty summits, it may not send forth lateral green shoots fresh and delightful as only they are, indeed, nourished from the strong sap of the parent stem. In brief, I do not believe -- to change the metaphor -- that they who, in our time, have wedded their lives to art have clasped to their breasts a lovely but lifeless corpse.

To the very young then, I would fain offer one or two matters for thought, if, perchance, they will hearken to one who has grown old in unwavering sympathy with their struggles and doubts.

I would beg them to keep ever before their eyes the vital truth that sincerity is the well-spring of all lasting achievement, and that no good thing ever took root in untruth or self-deception.

I would urge them to remember that if every excellent work is stamped with the personality of its author, no work can be enduring that is stamped with a borrowed stamp; and that, therefore, their first duty is to see that the thoughts, the emotions, the impressions they fix on he canvas are in very truth their own thoughts, their own emotions, their own spontaneous impressions, and not those of others: for work that does not spring from the heart has no roots, and will of certainty wither and perish.

The other maxim also I would urge on them - that true genius knows no hurry, that patience is of its essence, and thoroughness its constant mark; and, lastly, I would ask them to believe that the gathered experience of past ages is a precious heritage and not an irksome load; and that nothing will fortify them better for the future, and free development, than the reverent and loving study of the past.

- Frederic Leighton

Applies to composers and songwriters.

Re: Composition difficulties.
April 30, 2012, 08:48:10 PM
Rely on your intuition. Think less. Dial down the analytic side of your mind when creating (metal) music.

wEEman33 is absolutely right about immersion. This is partly why metal bands start to stagnate, it is hard to recreate the single minded wonderment of youth in the same degree as you age.

Re: Composition difficulties.
May 01, 2012, 04:59:01 PM
Jam more with others and record what you do - stuff sounds so different when you play it back in a different context. Might help you refine what you're looking for.