Guitar Songwriters - Creating Your Own Compositions

When you think of joining the ranks of guitar songwriters, you should really take into account the full spectrum of writing music including lyrics and all and not just guitar. Songwriting, by no means, is truly an easy task, neither for lyricists nor guitarists.

Writing songs really takes a lot of listening to identify what is really appealing in a guitar tune and what isn't. Of course, there are tons of terrible songwriters out there that are highly publicized, but they think economically and create based upon guitar tunes that have already been created.

I call those composers "cookie-cutter" artists or bands.

You don't want to become an artist like that.

And here's why:

* You'll never get any respect from the songwriting community.

Your fellow songwriters will be much more willing to contribute and help your efforts when they see you have valiant intentions. If they see you're just trying to be like everyone else and make money, they won't bother with you.

* You're appeal will last a very limited time.

Most of the time, a great band with original ideas and talents will emerge and hundreds of other artists will ride their coat tails with a similar songwriting style. Eventually you begin to notice the "other" bands slipping between the cracks and getting lost under everyone else's similar efforts.

* In the end, you're just selling your talent short.

You know better than anyone what you're capable of as a songwriter or guitarist. Would you really be happy with yourself knowing that you composed something that wasn't really your idea?

I know that I wouldn't.

When I sit down with my guitar and paper and think that I want to start composing, there's a certain process that I go through. It's not too difficult, but it does take some time to really become aware of your own stylistic features and the features of others.

My Process.

1. Pick your genre.

If you have a favorite genre of guitar tunes that you listen to or a style that you always seem to be playing, then this step should be easy. Find the genre you enjoy and that you have the most listening experience with.

If you don't have a lot of experience listening to the music you want to compose, then you need to study! Get out there and listen! Get on to Myspace Music, Purevolume, or ReverbNation to check out artists in your preferred genre.

2. Learn at least three cover songs from beginning to end.

What's the point of this step? The only way you can learn the subtleties of a genre and how it's played is if you experience what's already out there.

If you want to play guitar tunes like Linkin' Park, Limp Bizkit, and The Deftones but have never played anything like it before, then you need to practice their EXACT songs. Learn their chorus structures, their verse techniques, the lead compositions, and be meticulous about detail.

3. Identify stylistic details.

Now that you've walked a mile in another artists shoes by practicing their guitar tunes, you should already be picking up on their common composition traits. That is, what is common in each song throughout the entire genre you've picked to write in?

Take some notes if you have to. Write down what truly makes this genre original from anything else that you would have chosen in the first step.

4. Apply what you have learned.

Take those notes and all the characteristics of the songs you've learned in the genre you've chosen and put them into implementation.

I'm definitely NOT telling you to copy a progression and a lead riff to its exact specifications as another song and claim it as your own. That's not what song-writing is about.

Songwriting should be about identifying the appealing attributes in a genre while combining them with your own personal characteristics to create a strong composition. Of course, you'll improve on this skill with time like any other.

I'll have more detailed posts on song-writing later to really help you cook with the specifics of the talent.


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