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Julie JD - Writers Block

Julie JD
April 18, 2011

This week my advice is about every artists worst nightmare...writer's block. We all do it and it happens to the best of us, but you just have to figure out what works best for you to break it down. Sometimes you can't think of any words or sometimes every riff you write is sh*t but you can't get down on yourself. That is probably the worst thing you can do because getting depressed isn't good for any body. My first tip is about writing crummy riffs, my solution is to change instruments. If you usually play guitar try the piano instead. It may take some music theory to transpose from one to another, but if you know the basic notes you should have no problem.

A good thing to remember are the basics of song writing. The most widely basic chord progression can help you. It consists of three chords I,IV,V. If you are not familiar with music theory this may look like gibberish to you so I will briefly explain it. When you have a scale each note in that scale has a specific name. The first one being your tonic note, the fourth being sub-dominant and the fifth being dominant. Still don't get it? Well, let's take a basic scale like C Major C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. So your tonic note would be C, your sub-dominant note would be F and your dominant note would be G. The key is in the names of the scale. By experimenting for instance playing them in different orders but you will always start with your tonic note and always end with your sub-dominant note leading into your dominant note. Seriously, by playing around with these three chords you can come up with a song.

As far as lyrics go, sometimes it takes two years to write a good song. Just because you write something doesn't mean your stuck with it. They are not written in stone and artists are always re-writing their songs. I would say your first draft doesn't even have to make sense. They are just words that you are putting there that would fit good with the music so you get a basic idea of how the melody goes. A thesaurus and rhyming dictionary can become your best friends. One last tip, which is also a common problem amongst song writers is the words follow the riff melody. DON'T DO THAT! It makes your song boring. There is nothing wrong with walking away for a little while and coming back to work on it.