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I fail at music

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Seriously. I have been playing guitar for over 2 years and have still cannot write music for shit. I've done hundreds of covers, I can play full metallica songs with great technique. And I know some music theory, and I improvise over progressions ever day for hours. But, I still know no licks, cant write rhythm, I pretty much feel like I have no creativity in music and I'm about to give up.

I'm asking for any help at all, and if this fails I'm done with music.

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How can you improvise over chord progressions if you know no licks? =P

Anyway, there are a number of different approaches to writing music, especially with the aid of an instrument as versatile as a guitar; you can either just play around a bit with chords and come up with a progression that you like and that isn't

.

Now you have a lot of different options already, are you going to arpeggiate the chords, or play them in eighth note power chords? I'm sure you can think of something.

Really, once you have a progression you can just build the rest of your song around it; come up with a cool melody that fits the mood of the progression, underline everything with a nice little bass-line, and add some drums (I wrote a little tutorial that might help you with this).

Another approach would be to build around a melody you've come up with (or that's from a song you're remixing), figure out which bass/chord root notes would fit under it, and 'flesh out' the song by building chords over your root notes.

Bottom line: there's a lot of different approaches to writing songs, and songwriting definitely isn't impossible for you, especially if you are able to improvise over chord progressions. Figure out which approach works best for you and get mixing =P

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When I improvise the only thing I can do and make it sound good is pointless shredding.

I can't even come up with riffs that sound anything like metal(which is what i'm after).

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If you want riffs that sound like metal, pay careful attention to the metal song you're actually playing and how the riff is built-up. Take a look at the intro riff to Master of Puppets, you'll notice it alternates between full power chords and a fast downpicked phrase. It's all based on a relatively simple chord progression, but it sounds so cool because of the numerous ways the chords are 'processed'; you got the chromatic descending phrase to give a sense of speed, and the staccato power chords as a means of power.

What I mean by this example is that you have to find out what exactly makes the riffs sound so cool to your ears, and try to emulate this form of 'processing' your chord progressions. As a general rule of thumb, there's usually a fast-picked, palm-muted open string involved (The E generally, because it's the lowest, and sounds the heaviest), alternated by different chords or double-stops, to give the riffs some harmonic content.

Don't feel down though, the riff-based approach to writing songs is really hard IMO, and it will take some time until you're able to come up with something that doesn't sound cheesy to your ears. Practice makes perfect!

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Don't give up man, just keep on screwing around. Try RANDOM notes and string em together, you never know. When I go freestyling with my crap, I just mess around until I mix up a chord or note progression that I like :D, then again I don't play the guitar, I play the FL Studio :P. Regardless, just do what i suggested, you never know...

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Admittedly, I've only been writing my own music for a few months but I'll try to lend a hand with some general advice. It takes time to be able to improvise something and work out a song from it. I've been playing Piano for almost two years myself and my general lack of experience with the theory side of the instrument and melody can certainly make things difficult. That's why I try to listen to more piano and other instruments to help me learn more about constructing melody. I may not be able to pick out what notes are being played by ear, but I can certainly get a feel for the progression. Trying to learn some more theory, and really breaking down what you're listening to in your head can help a lot for giving you ideas.

Also, it may be beneficial to try learning another instrument as well. You say you have trouble writing rhythm so perhaps taking up the drums or another percussion instrument could help not only round out your skills as a musician, but help you look at things from a different angle and result in more creative ideas. I've found that my knowledge of rhythm from the 8 years I've spent behind a drumkit have helped my composing a great deal.

Don't be too quick to give up. Writing music isn't easy; it's something that can only come with practice and experience.

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Yup writing music is hard, I've been playing the piano since I was 5, (not that the first years count for much) but I love improvising, I'm not amazing at it, but I love it all the same. Some of the main helps I've found is to know your theory, take some classes run through your RCM theory grades, (or whatever you have wherever you are) and think of practical applications for what you learn. Also, when you're going through a song, and you notice that something sounds sweet, try to determine the theory behind it and how come it sounds sweet. It also helps to try to realize how come some things still sound good when they are out of key. How did they do that key change? How come a c# sounded so good there in a g major key signature? Analyse everything then take some of the chords and sweet stuff and mess with it. Keep taking lessons and you'll get better. LEARN YOUR THEORY!

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I don't know what to say, because everything you really should have read has been posted already. All I can say is don't give up. There are times where we all doubt ourselves, but you can do so much if you just keep at what you're doing.

Don't believe in yourself. Believe in us who believe in you.

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Seriously. I have been playing guitar for over 2 years and have still cannot write music for shit.

So you never get any musical ideas from "nowhere" or while listening to something? No opinions on music? "I liked this riff, but that one note should have gone up instead of down, and they should have sustained the lower notes to emphasize whatever mood."

Maybe you're taking the music writing aspect way too seriously? Try to distance yourself from it and simply do something instead. It's mostly about experimentation to get to some starting point. (On the documentary "Meeting people is easy," you can observe Thom Yorke trying out ideas while on tour; he is sitting by the piano trying the feel of some melody. He knows what feels good or bad compared only to previous variations of the idea, and eventually settles on one of them for whatever reasons he found he was looking for and jots down some notes. The song was "Life in a Glasshouse.")

Start with an idea, then you might choose the direction based on the feel of the idea, and perhaps the feel changes completely later on in the song. If music writing was predictable, it would be boring, but experience may more quickly help determine what works and what doesn't.

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How can you improvise over chord progressions if you know no licks? =P

I don't know what you're talking about man. I've also improvised over chords and I've NEVER used a lick in my entire life. In fact, I don't even know what a lick is. What the heck is that thing?

Dude, don't give up, please. If you've got the technique AND can improvise, then I think you can definitely do this! I think the simplest way for you to at least get some kind of song written would be for you to just write a chord progression first and then try a bunch of improvisations and just keep the stuff that you like. That method may not get you the kind of song you want though. Another thing that I basically do every time now is, after choosing the topic I want to write a song about (it doesn't matter if it's instrumental or not), I just imagine that it's a movie and imagine the music as the BGM for that movie. And then try to figure out what's in my head on my guitar.

I hope one of these two methods helps out. Let me know how it goes. Just DON'T GIVE UP!

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