View Full Version : Composition

07-11-2002, 03:08 PM
Hi there guys i am new here and i really like this site i have been a lurker for sometime now.

Ok i have a bit of trouble, I have been playing guitar for 6 years, i have attended the Guitar Institute and have had lessons from day one.

Now my technique is pretty damn good, months and years of grooming have enabled me to play alot of technical stuff, but this isn't my problem, my problem is being a musician. I don't know how i don't know how to appreciate or write music, i feel like a robot. Inspiration is minimal because its been supressed by years of wanting to play faster (i'm now seeing the light and that speed isn't everything) so i haven't recorded anything for years, i used to be happy in out rock band 4 years ago banging out 3 chord songs. Now i am not happy with anything i write. It all seems so simple and shallow. Now depth or soul and its always just wrong. Now i see people around me writing instrumental rock guitar an they sound cool. Not neccesarily lots of technique but their melodies are interesting. Their songs go somewhere. Vai, Malmsteen, Becker, Howe, Kotzen etc how do they do it. I don't know.

Frankly i am stuck, and have been for 6 months i am finding it harder and harder to play because it becoming more difficult to write stuff and thus pointless playing.

So i am asking you guys for some advice. I want to write stuff, i just am never happy with the noise i make. I want to know how to create certian moods. Drum patterns, Bass lines, how to approch melody. (they don't teach this at guitar institute)

How do i become a muscian again



07-11-2002, 11:46 PM
What do you listen to?
If you are listening to Fast Stuff you will want to play fast stuff.
Isn't it interesting that we never judge a singer by how fast he/she can sing?
Make your self play a nylon string for a while without a pick.
Try to listen to beautiful music by all kinds of musicians not just speed metal kings. How about some good saxophone ?
Listen to singers, try to write some simple melodies.
How about just playing without thought or resorting to technique?
Play left handed, play like jeff healey ,do somthing to get your mind off technique and on to creating sounds. Listen to some blues.
Try to get yourself into an Alpha brain wave state.
Play only quater or eight notes.

07-12-2002, 10:22 AM

I once had a problem similar to yours for a little while. To get out of the rut, I did this:
First of all, I changed my goal. Instead of saying "I wanna write something in the style of..." or "I wanna write something complicated with a bunch of changes..." I sat down with the guitar, and tried to come up with a progression of 3-4 cool chords.
Sat down with an acoustic guitar and just tried to play some chords I really liked, beyond the regular basic triads.
I came up with the chords that became the chorus of "Canyon Of Spirits". I liked the sound of those already, even without a melody on top of it.


I then recorded those, or rather programmed them into a sequencer. Next, I added a simple drum-pattern. Added some string-voices.
I also came up with some chords for the "verses" and "pre-chorus"... I just used chords similar to the ones in the chorus, since they sounded lush, wide-open and warm, and so I came up with some more to go with the chorus.
Anyway, I programmed a jam-track for it.

When it was time to come up with a melody, I jammed on it for a loooong time. You know, I made sure no one would bother / interrupt me, turned on the jam track and played.
I went for melodies instead of "licks", tried to play something that was no "Vandenberg-cliché", tried to stay away from typical licks.
I once read something by Vai which pretty much said "Go on and play till you get to the point where youīre bored of your typical standard-licks. Play on then. You will hopefully get to a point where you actually PLAY, CREATE and come up with new stuff".

So thatīs where the melodies in "Canyon Of SPirits" came from. And itīs one of the songs Iīm most proud of. It has no shredding in it whatsoever.
I tried to think of the images it was inspired by... american-indian stuff, canyons, big landscapes... indian rhythms and flutes...

Another example is "Hidden Creek", another song from my upcoming CD. Itīs based on a little lullaby I once wrote for someone. I wrote it on acoustic guitar, just a little melody on top of two chords I liked ( The Asus2 plus the same chord with an F# in the bass ).


That one inspired me to wrote very different melodies, more relaxed and on the backbeat, with lots of rests.

Finally, regarding faster stuff.... My song "Cab To Queens" definitely is inspired by players like Howe and Nuno. What I did: I went to a rehearsal room with my drummer, and we jammed. I thought of cool grooves, and thatīs the riff I came up with:


Finally, I would say: listen to James, heīs right about listening to all kinds of different music. Let that inspire you and "pull you out of the rut". Try to come up with simple stuff you like, then build on that... change it, add stuff etc.

If you wanna go the theoretical way, pick some stuff you like, and analyze what you like about it. Try to use that to come up on your own, not a rip-off but something with the same intention...

Try to be inspired by something... a picture, something you once saw... "Hidden Creek" is inspired by a beautiful small creek I used to sit at in Atlanta, and "Cab To Queens" is inspired by the atmosphere in NYC...

All this might sound a bit odd, but its tough to put it into rules or stiff guidelines.
Hope this helps

07-12-2002, 01:59 PM
Cheers for the advice, i feel inspired allready cheers :)


07-14-2002, 12:07 AM
Awesome advice....

07-22-2002, 05:28 PM
A little note from me.

All musicians suffer from "depressions". I have just had about 10months of a total desert when it comes to writing. Everyone has those periods. I've just learnt to just let it flow. Eventually you come up with new ideas (atleast if you listen to alot of music) and so on. Then you find your self sitting up late one night and recording. The morning after you discover that you have written something great ;) I LOVE that feeling. hehe.

The main thing is not to stop at all, keep playing. It might be boring. But just learn new tunes or so to keep your self "fresh".


07-22-2002, 06:21 PM
One of the things I did when I was younger was this:

Get into a quiet place and imagine a guitarist onstage playing. Don't try to 'hear' anything yet. If fragments of your favorite 'songs' float through your head let them pass through. Just keep this person in mind. Sounds will pass in and out of your mind, don't try to hang on to them. Do this for at least 15 minutes a day. Have the 'image' and his/her band be playing the most insane stuff you have ever 'seen' (don't try to hear anything - but at this point don't completely block out everything - listen to it as it goes by - most importantly you should 'see' the hands doing things you didn't think possible). At some point you will notice the player doing things that you have never heard before. At this point really start to let the sound creep in. The longer you do this, the more 'new' stuff should seep in. After a while you will be hearing entire gigs of music that you have never heard prior to this. Guess what... The player is you and the music is yours.

The way this happened for me was this: there was a local 'fusion' guy in my town when I was 16 years old. This guy was heavy. I still haven't heard things like what he was playing. When I was 18 he left town and went to Berklee. I used to wonder what he was playing now that he was in the guitar player capitol of the US. So I would sit around trying to imagine what it could possibly be. For almost a year I thought that what I was hearing in my head was his stuff. I had never heard it anywhere else, so by gawd, it had to be his. Well, he came into town during a break and I heard him play. His new stuff didn't sound anything like what I had imagined. A few days later I realized that I was the player that I was hearing/seeing in my head. From that moment on I just sought to clearify/bring into focus the player that is inside my dreams. It has worked so far... I really hope this brings some peace/piece to your situation. If you have any questions on my diatribe, let me know...



07-23-2002, 03:10 PM
Wow. That's an interesting idea. I HAVE to try it =)

07-23-2002, 05:47 PM
Yeah, this is damn cool - never thought about it in this way.

Thx Matt


07-23-2002, 08:05 PM
Hey Matt , have you recorded any stuff I'd like to hear it!!!!!!!

07-23-2002, 08:44 PM
I think here ya will find what you are looking for:

MAtt Butler's End of the World Orchestra (http://www.mp3.com/mbq)


07-23-2002, 11:06 PM
My most recent stuff is here:http://www.biodigitalmusic.com

The other link is my older stuff...


07-23-2002, 11:07 PM
I am glad you guys dig the idea, by the way!