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Total lack of inspiration.


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I am at my wit's end. I have literally gone for months without being able to write an original song from scratch (not counting songs I've done for a soundtrack, which I do not count). I have a veritable graveyard of over 20-25 project files of failed songs and WIPs. The last song I wrote was a short original around December and before that the last thing I did was my 2nd CD, which was finished in June. I've tried everything. I've tried taking a break, listening to different kinds of music, playing around on my keyboard, studying theory, taking walks and looking at the scenery, etc.. NOTHING WORKS.

It feels like I'm just incapable of creating any new music at all, as if I already reached my peak and am now already at the bottom. It's the worst feeling in the world.

Does anyone - preferably, someone who writes electronic music in the same kind of style that I do - have any suggestions for remedying this situation? I think I'm going to go insane if I have to spend another day twiddling my thumbs and messing around on my keyboard because I have no song ideas..

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Hey, it happens to the best of us, man. I have had a couple months like that, also. I know the feeling: you start thinking like "If I'm not good at this anymore, what can I do with my life?" as well as other things. It's horrible.

The best thing to do it be patient becasue it will pass. But another thing to do is to force yourself through completing a song (it will help to clear your mind after you finish).

Good luck.

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I appreciate your suggestions, however..

I often get monthly periods of music increativity and it takes a while to get back into things. What normally does it for me is spending some of my time on other creative things like art.

Unfortunately I have no other creative talents.

I find, personally, that if I just sit down without an idea other than to make a song more often than not it worsens the situation. Really the best thing is to get the idea. It feels kind of awkward trying to explain this to someone with much better talent in this area but we're all out for the music.

Out of maybe 40-50 songs I've written (counting video game soundtracks) I've had an idea for them beforehand maybe.. 5% of the time. I almost NEVER have song ideas. All of Impulse Prime was written on the spot. I stared at my blank FL6 screen until I was inspired to write something. It's extremely rare that I think of a melody or chord progression in my head, and even more rare that it sounds good.

Another personal thing is that I get bored with styles of music quickly, I set out to create a similar song to previously and get bored. As the breaks didn't work for you try making something that you're not accustomed to.

Since my last original song I've done about six or seven songs in totally different styles (remixes, game soundtrack, music for radio) However I don't get a lot of enjoyment out of them because I don't enjoy those genres as much.

Try creating less listenable music, or less electronic ideas. Whilst this is a break from the electronic music that you normally make it's not a break from music. You could find some techniques that you want to incorporate in your own music.

This is not a bad idea but I wouldn't even know where to start without having some sort of direction given to me.

Finally if you hear something that really impresses you then try and replicate the sound. Then try and experiment with it or making things in that style, even if they don't turn out well (which isn't as bad as it seems, you don't have to listen to the song after - it's practice).

I do this on a regular basis.. I have probably hundreds upon hundreds of dead projects, many of which are me ripping off some big name artists. I've obsessive when it comes to that kind of thing and I've gotten down a lot of the styles perfectly. I don't release these clips of course because there's no point.. I didn't write them.

Again, this is all personal really but I hope some of these suggestions are useful. I'm much newer to using computers for music so it may just be because I'm so early on that these techniques work.

Best of luck to you man, look forward to hearing some of your productions.

Again, thank you.

The best thing to do it be patient becasue it will pass. But another thing to do is to force yourself through completing a song (it will help to clear your mind after you finish).

Arguably this is something I've had for over 8 months now. The one original electronic song I was able to write (Throwdown) was sort of a one-of-a-kind thing and a fluke more than anything else. I have absolutely not been able to do anything since and I have been feeling steadily worse about it.

I have also tried forcing myself to complete a song but it hasn't worked. All I have are lots of ultra-crappy WIPs to show for it. They go straight to the recycle bin.

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ITS HORRIBLE. I'm having the same thing right now. I can write little things, or melodies but i end up saying "this sucks" or it just doesn't go anywhere. I'm really hoping it will just pass but it doesn't feel like it ever will. It's not even a lack of inspiration, i can hear a song perfectly in my head. I just don't seem to have the ability to write it down properly. It just sounds like ass....

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I'd give anything to be in your position. At least you have the song in your head. That just means it's a matter of practice - transferring the ideas you have on to paper or into your sequencer. That's the easy part. But there's nothing you can do when you don't have any ideas to begin with.

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Usually my ideas come out of the blue, or from just messing with stuff. I just open up some samples or a preset and write stuff down until one good idea gets things going.

Don't think you have alot of crap WIPs either. Lately i have had FLP files everywhere, on my desktop, in tons of folders, and all the files are named something like "dfghdfkjdfkkk vnbnhj". All of them are crap.

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I have the same problem regularly on the guitar. I'll be trying to write something creative, and nothing will happen.

I have heard all kinds of remedies, usually none of them worked.

I feel that a lack of creativity is caused by a lack of variety somewhere in your life.

Theres a couple things I normally do to get some ideas:

Change my desktop background (usually something completely different than i had. Or make one)

Try some new foods (I tried some indian food. Yum! Got me writing a song in no time. although it wasn't etnic music at all, but it made me feel pretty good.)

Clean my room while listening to piano arrangements (I play alot of neo-classical and heavey metal and 'metalcore', so piano arragement sorta give me some variety away from my regluar instruments. I usually make up my own little melodies to what they're playing.); when cleaning my room, I always find things from the past that give me some ideas.

Listen to a new band from a style I like (purevolume.com <--good site for that)

Listen to a new band from a style I hate (purevolume is also a good site for this. o.o;)

Playing a new videogame is always a good way to settle your nerves. RPG's are supreme ways to get some ideas. There is so much music in their scores, that it'll take a hold of you. =)

Well, thats all I can think of. You guys prolly think i'm a bozo. XD

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ah, I remember reading a very similar post on SGX's website last year... I'm sorry to hear you're in a slump, and I do hope Danny posts in here with his thoughts from when he felt the same way. Clearly, he is dong much much better these days.

Ooh I forgot about that one. That was a pretty minor slump for me. It wasn't a big deal, but I was a bit bugged out because I wasn't getting anywhere with some of the visual design things I wanted to be doing (logo, new website....which are all finally complete and I am pretty happy with em) in addition to the music. Sometimes having regular listeners is a curse because you'll get aims or emails asking "when's the next track coming out??????" and then you feel obligated to get moving on something. I HATE feeling like music is my job (very large reason I am not seriously pursuing it as a career). I'd rather let the creative juices flow out than be squeezed out. The visual stuff however, is my second favorite art, so I'm perfectly fine whoring my visual ideas out for money :).

Usually to get out of a music-writing slump, taking a break and listening to new music is what does it for me. You said you already tried that though.

Experimenting with new sounds or effects can often spur some excitement. I can just get one kickass beat going, or a really nice string pad, or just some kind of neat hook to build a song around and that will get things moving. Zirc, I'd say maybe grab a new vsti or sample package to play around in, but you've got an IMMENSE arsenal already...maybe go back to ones you haven't fooled with much.

I generally try to make every song I make pretty distinct from the previous ones. Listeners might think some are similar, but at least to me, even if they have a similar make up of styles of beats, instruments and whatnot, they all usually give me really different feelings and emotions, and they make me see different colors and shapes in my head (I sound like a hippy). I think if I tried to re-use my successful ideas to make say, an all trance album, or all bigbeat, or all ambient album, I'd be dead within 3 tracks.

So maybe try something different, not necessarily by genre, but by 'attitude' if you know what I mean.

Can you play guitar? Learn guitar. Maybe you can use it in your music. If not, you'll get some experience with chords and styles you may not have thought up looking at a piano roll.

I might have more ideas/thoughts later. Not sure if that was helpful or not.

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Maybe take a break for awhile, mate. Sounds like you're pushing yourself too hard... trying to force something from nothing.

I haven't had a slump in awhile, but when I did nothing really worked. I just had to ride it out.

edit: oh, you already said you took a break. Maybe a longer one? :wink:

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Maybe take a break for awhile, mate. Sounds like you're pushing yourself too hard... trying to force something from nothing.

I haven't had a slump in awhile, but when I did nothing really worked. I just had to ride it out.

edit: oh, you already said you took a break. Maybe a longer one? :wink:

I dunno, breaks of months at a time are long enough for me. I feel pretty useless when I'm not writing music anyway.

sgx; no, I don't play guitar. I might try that.

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I find that immersing myself in others non-musical art helps me a lot. Stories, Pictures and stuff tends to inspire me. Hell, webcomcis inspire me. No idea if it will work for you, but maybe it will.

Also, SGX, you mentioned that music gives you shapes and colours in your mind or somesuch. You may be one of hte lucky people with synathesia (I think that is how it is spelt). It means "crossed senses" in greek or something, people who have it associate things to do with one sense - like colour and shapes, which are part of the vision - with things to do with another sense - like music, which is aural. My sister, for example associates colour with music and words. While it is a mental condition, it isn't anything bad; your brain isn't going to explode or anything. But you might want to mention it to your doctor or soemthing, because you might be able to score some money as a research subject or something.

Apologies to Zirc for derailing his thread.

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I find that immersing myself in others non-musical art helps me a lot. Stories, Pictures and stuff tends to inspire me. Hell, webcomcis inspire me. No idea if it will work for you, but maybe it will.

A lot of things inspire me in the sense of "Wow, that's beautiful" - but nothing leads me to actual notes in the sequencer. I don't look at art and suddenly hear the melody "A - B - C - B - F - E" (from good morning, by tefnek btw). I wish that were the case.

ps. No, I am not going to do drugs. Ever.

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I have no problems getting the music to pop up in my head - it's getting around to writing it down that's my issue. I lack the inspiration to actively do anything at all. And typing on this keyboard is hardly an active... activity. It's just flushing my thoughts out into my hands. Unfortunately, I'm not as proficient with the musical keyboard as with the ordinary one.

I usually have get tons of music in my head when I'm depressed, as in, having had a fight with my gf or the likes. Doesn't happen when I'm bored. The inspiration comes from being blue. I once read the definition of poo to be "the solid byproduct of digestion". When I get around to writing down all those songs that are trapped in my head, I'll call the album "the solid byproduct of depression". Because that's what they are. I can look back at songs I made when I was 12. They are, often, of a rather high professional level, but what's more important, they are full of life and fun.

I envy myself for being able to create such inspired and lively songs, something I am no longer able to. Everything I make now is sad and dark. Some of the songs that pop up in my mind have such great hit potential that I question their origins; did I really make this myself? But they always carry traces of the depression from where they come. Not saying this is a bad thing, but it's strange. Happiness never gives me that kind of inspiration.

Also, trying to make music by forcing it out is one of the worst things I've ever had to do. I was dumb enough to sign up for a class in high school where I was to compose a few songs over a full year, making small progress all the time. I finished it the night before deadline, and failed the class. I just couldn't do it earlier than that. The inspiration came out of the stress to make something. I suppose sometimes, you have to force yourself into creating something. But music being what it is, I think I can indulge myself with calling myself an artist, and one whose creation can not be forced. If it is, it is no longer art, but something else. Something less.

Another problem is that the inspiration, when it comes, never stays for long. I guess this means I'm a happy person in general, but I think I'm meant to be unhappy and depressed. I feel more like myself that way. And I make better music that way. Anyway, you gotta catch those few times when the inspiration comes. Don't force it, but exploit it.

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Since everyone seems to be talking about how they get out of their slumps, I guess I'll share how I get out of mine.

When I get into a slump, I listen to other kinds of music, like you said you already tried. Often though, I just try to learn to play those songs. After figuring out how to play one song (all of this on the piano btw), you improvise. This leads you to a new song, be it of your creation or one you just had in your head and figured out again. Then you improvise some more. You work at it and work at it until you think it's just fucking hopeless. You've been improvising for days, and nothing has come of it yet. Then you stumble upon a few progressions that fit together well. Then that breeds. And again. And again. Then it all fits together. Then you rush to the sequencer and play those notes in on any basic instrument, so you know where all your melodies and harmonies are. Then you add the beat, bass, whatever. You design your sounds. And then the rest is just all the peices you thought you'd never find falling into place.

You've probably heard this a million times before, but music is all about emotions. I think it takes a certain degree of humility to write music. If you begin thinking that you've outdone yourself, or that you've ever created a good song, than you might just lose sight of what drove you to start creating in the first place. Once you feel like improving your craft even more, or finding better ways to convey what your feeling, that's when true magic happens.

And sometimes you just have to sit and write forever. Write something generic, but FINISH it. It could have the worst ending ever, but just finish it. I find that finishing songs is kind of like closure, it allows you to move onto the next miserable failure with a clear head. :lol:

Just my two cents on how to get out of those crappy musical blocks. Honestly, it's just hard work and feeling. That's all it takes. Whoever said writing music was easy is a fucking moron. Just keep at it. That's how ya do it. :wink:

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I can't bring myself to finish a lot of the garbage that I've worked on. eg

www.zirconstudios.com/Enlightened.mp3

Crap.

www.zirconstudios.com/Huge%20Beat.mp3

Crap.

www.zirconstudios.com/wanderer.mp3

Crap.

www.zirconstudios.com/Surf.mp3

Crap.

www.zirconstudios.com/gruv.mp3

Crap.

www.zirconstudios.com/Synthscape.mp3

Total crap.

I've tried listening to music, improvising, etc. That did not work.

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you said something about not digressing into other genres because you're not very good at it, right?

why not just take a while off from electronic-style stuff and learn a new genre? I mean, it couldn't hurt to expand your skill set, and it could just be the right kind of break you need to get back into your groove.

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