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Virtual Boy

Regaining the drive to write music?

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When I was 16, I first discovered fruity loops, and I was completely enamored by the music writing process.  Sure I didn't know anything about theory or what made a good song, but I threw myself into it full force, writing as many bad songs as I pleased.

And now I'm 22, and I'm writing less and less full songs.  I'll find myself wanting to write something and having no ideas, or having an idea but no way to continue it.  I've been going to college for music now for a few years, and I don't know anything else I'd want to do with my life.  I want to re-ignite my drive for music, I started playing guitar but I don't know if that'll help.  Anyone else ever been in that spot before?

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I started making music 15 years ago. And fast forward, im going on 24 and I too have slowed down a little bit. I understand what you mean.

To me, its a disciplinary thing. You make time for it and make it a set thing, and just do little things. sound design, minor mixing, etc. Don't overwhelm yourself, and slowly reintroduce more and more. Ive fallen out of the loop (heh heh no pun intended ) SOO many times but i in a way kind of force myself to make music. I dont really FORCE the creativity but i make sure that im "exercising" the muscle or so-to-speak.

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One of the greatest record producers and song writers of all time, Brian Eno, suffered from creative block. He invented a way to overcome it with the help of a psychologist. The result is Oblique Strategies.

About it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies

Free online version: http://www.oblicard.com/

There are many apps for it, books, and free resources online. Simply read a card, and try to apply it to what you're doing. 

I'm happy to say it works, but you have to dig deep sometimes. You have to want it. 

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On 6/19/2016 at 10:48 PM, Virtual Boy said:

When I was 16, I first discovered fruity loops, and I was completely enamored by the music writing process.  Sure I didn't know anything about theory or what made a good song, but I threw myself into it full force, writing as many bad songs as I pleased.

And now I'm 22, and I'm writing less and less full songs.  I'll find myself wanting to write something and having no ideas, or having an idea but no way to continue it.  I've been going to college for music now for a few years, and I don't know anything else I'd want to do with my life.  I want to re-ignite my drive for music, I started playing guitar but I don't know if that'll help.  Anyone else ever been in that spot before?

The "having an idea but no way to continue it" thing, can be fixed by studying the structure of other songs. Listen to your favorite songs and try to break down the structure. Once you understand the structure of those songs; try to emulate that structure in your own compositions.

Also, I would just suggest you just search for articles or lessons on musical structure.

If you already have an idea of what structure you want; it should be easy to continue the song.

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Have a reason and a deadline. Don't just sit down and be like "gonna write some music now!" because that probably won't get you anywhere. If you have a reason (even the competitions here on the forums are great) and a deadline (need to have SOMETHING done by X time and date), then you'll be surprised at how much music you'll be able to crank out.

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Ditto to competitions being a great way to practice working to deadlines and producing better quality work in shorter amounts of time. 

Trying a new instrument can be a great way to reignite things creatively.  You can look at music from a whole new perspective with every instrument you are capable of playing.  Just keep in mind that each instrument is a serious commitment and you won't be capable of recording anything worthy of being recorded without something halfway decent, a guitar that can hold it's tuning at the very least,  and years worth of practice.  (you can down that to months worth of practice if you know what you are doing and know what you need).  

It's also important to remember that if you want to write music you have to want to write music.  Every hour of every day.  If you're sitting in class or at your job or whatever and just getting home and writing something or trying a new production technique is always the first thing on your mind then you have the drive necessary to accomplish something in this art.  If you tend to avoid studio time in favor of other things then maybe creating music isn't for you.  Spend your time doing the things you enjoy and don't torture yourself if you lose the drive to do this art.  

 

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Just write. It's as simple as that. It's not necessarily gonna be good. It might even be bad. But I can promise you one thing. It'll be better than nothing. As the kind  people above me already mentioned, a deadline or competition helps, because it forces you to write. But that's just an accelerator. A push to get the ball rolling. In my opinion a musician should be able to start writing, even when he or she doesn't have to. I try to write some music every day. Most of the time I erase or edit it the day after, because I didn't like it. Sometimes it's the start of a great new song with lots of potential. There's no telling beforehand. Also, it's those bad songs you write that you learn from the most. So, every failure is an investment for your next great song. It's an exciting process. But, when you don't write anything because you're afraid it won't be good or because you don't have any inspiration, then all you'll have is a blank sheet of paper. And no one learns anything from a blank sheet of paper. 

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On 6/19/2016 at 7:48 PM, Virtual Boy said:

When I was 16, I first discovered fruity loops, and I was completely enamored by the music writing process.  Sure I didn't know anything about theory or what made a good song, but I threw myself into it full force, writing as many bad songs as I pleased.

And now I'm 22, and I'm writing less and less full songs.  I'll find myself wanting to write something and having no ideas, or having an idea but no way to continue it.  I've been going to college for music now for a few years, and I don't know anything else I'd want to do with my life.  I want to re-ignite my drive for music, I started playing guitar but I don't know if that'll help.  Anyone else ever been in that spot before?

Sounds like you learned more in those 6 years, and decided you'd write less bad stuff. Kind of a good, but somewhat bad thing; sure, your standards have improved, but now you have this reluctance to write something bad. But go ahead, write something bad in private; you'll learn something in the process. Heck, you could share it here on the OCR forums and we could help you on it. Maybe having someone else helping you can push your music in a direction you didn't know was possible.

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You could also try listening to new music. I tend to find Impact Soundworks demo songs to be pretty inspiring.

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If you want to write something and you don't have ideas, improvise. If you can't improvise, practice. Try to learn some chord structures from music you like, and maybe your music can be influenced by those ideas when you play around with them enough and internalize those patterns. I've never been a great improviser, but sometimes I find great chord progressions just from messing around on the keyboard. My best ideas tend to be due to the chord progressions I accidentally find while playing around with an inspiring sound. My advice? Get a MIDI keyboard so you can improvise like this.

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If you have ideas but you don't know how to execute them, probably:

  • You're missing sounds you need to execute your idea.
  • You don't have a fast enough workflow to flesh out the idea before it's gone.
  • You're not sure how to identify what's going on in a model song you want to be inspired by.

Not exactly easy to address those points though... Here's my take on each point:

  • Maybe jot down example songs, and ask around (on OCR, hint hint) about what synths, sample libraries, or other resources you might need to accomplish a certain idea.
  • Try learning keyboard + mouse shortcuts in your digital audio workstation (DAW) that allow you to work faster. I find that if I find the shortcuts myself, instead of reading from a manual, it feels more natural and easier to remember. Also, of course, practice in your DAW so that you know how to use its plugins and other features inside-and-out.
  • This is quite hard at first, and the best advice I can think of is to ask someone else you trust to dissect an example song, and then maybe you can try to hear what they hear, and imitate that process on another song. Hone in on specific instruments in specific spots in the stereo field, and try to isolate what that texture is, and whether you have / can achieve something like it or not. Like lots of other things, practice this, and you'll get better.

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