Listen! Tips For Composing, Part 1

Hi there! I'm a new teacher for, and I'm an 18-year-old, French, big, fat, hairy guy, so don't get angry if my English is crappy. Don't wait around for hot speed licks and scales in my columns, my purpose here is to help you find original ways to play, and to help you develop originality. I hope it won't bother you too much!

This is the beginning of a trilogy of column containing some tips in order to help you to compose songs, riffs and and other stuffs. I'll give examples and tips from my own experience, hopefully it will work for you. Anyway, this advice is directed at guitarists composing all alone, since describing the band composing process would be far too hard for me in that each band is very different (each guitarist is also different but it's not the same, don't mess with me, please.)

Classic situation: you are in your bedroom, sitting on your bed with your pink Ibanez plugged into your 2 meter tall rack system, and trying to compose your next single. But as you play, you realize all the ideas coming from your strings are very similar and you can't get out from under the cliches. Instead of giving up music for cooking (though I sometimes prefer a good kebab to a crappy song), read this advice, you may find the answer.

Tip number one: Listen to what you have in your brain! It may sound quite abstract, but in fact it is very simple. You must have complete silence in the room you play in, then after a few seconds, sing the litlle melodies coming into your mind. You will hear them arrive! Try and find stuff that you like to hear and sing, and then play it on your guitar, and you will quickly realize that composing from a source other than your guitar is very inspiring and prevents you from composing 100 times-heard cliches . To practice, try and play songs you've heard once or twice, on the radio for example, without listening to them (though trying to play while you're listening is a good way to practice as well). Find the chords, the riffs and the melodies -- of course you will make mistakes but quickly you will be able to play a song you've heard only once -- a week ago! Then you will be able to play your own melodies coming from your brain, and this is a great way to create.

Tip number two: Art! Hey guys, music is not the only way to express one's feelings, and before Hendrix there were artists! Through painting or litterature you may find a feeling that touches you, and that you will be able to express through your music . Look at a painting by Dali. I'm sure a stupid Primus-like melody will come to your mind from that mad art! Look at Boticelli's Venus. Can't you hear that glorious happy melody at the same time -- light, and so beautiful? Books can also help you : Edgar Allen Poe's "Black Cat" can bring out nasty creeping riffs from your guitar. Homer's "Illiad" will surely help you to compose that 20 minute epic song you have been trying to create for so many months (Manowar already did it on their album, "The Triumph Of Steel".) Try to imagine the music the writers/painters had in their brain when they created their art. Moreover, a little bit of culture will surely makes your lyrics more interesting than, "I am a viking, I'm going to war with my giant sword between my legs."

Tip number three: write the lyrics before you write the music! Moreover, it will prevent you from having to support your super heavy riff with an ode to your twentieth girlfriend over it. Read the lyrics loudly, and try to imagine what music would fit well with it. It's a similar process with literature, but there you really know the author's intention. Each word may suggest a different chord. Don't hesitate, and then your lyrics will not just sound like a pretext to compose riffs.

That's about it for this time, but I'll be back soon! My trilogy's advice will go from the most to the least abstract. If you find this first column hard to understand and apply, read my next article, you might be more inspired! I wish you a Merry Christmas, beware the one-legged, red-haired, green snakes from Sri Lanka and don't forget to check my stuff out and contact me.

Beurks is an 18-year-old French guitar player, who, in his own words, is a, "big, fat, hairy guy, who speaks crappy English."

His focus is not or hot speed licks and scales, but on ways to help you develop originality.