Now that you have decided to create your own songs you may wonder where you get that moment of inspiration from? You may want to write instrumental songs which do not contain any vocals and lyrics. Logical isn’t it? Because you play guitar and making music is all you do. On the other hand you may want to write songs which do contain lyrics and vocals. If you have never written any lyrics before it may be a less obvious choise for you to take. Similar story for the vocals: If you have not sang before you may not feel comfortable about singing. Today’s blog will deal with the inspirationprocess, where to get it from, how to nurture it and how to develop it. What kind of songs you will write is up to you, you need to make up your own mind about this matter. Your choises may change over time as you get more experienced.
—-Own More Than One Guitar?—
Neil Young once said that every guitar contains at least one song. This is very true, as each guitar is unique in sound and feel. One guitar may inspire you to create a very delicate piece of music, whereas another one may inspire you to bring out the Rockmonster in you. When writing songs bear this in mind: Play different guitars for a while, keep them around you, put them on a stand in the room where you usually play, make it as easy as possible for yourself to play your guitars. If you own a few of them, make a habit of playing them regularly, do not get into the habit of: “Oh this is my all-time favourite guitar” If you have guitars you do not like for whatever reason, do not keep them, sell them, as someone else may enjoy playing them. Make sure your guitars all work well as they should, no obvious problems with pick-ups, volume-and tonecontrols ect. as your guitars should serve you as a moment of inspiration and joy and not a headache.
Try to admire the differences in guitars, their different feel and sound. Try avoiding an attitude like: “I really love this guitar as it is so EASY to play, the neck is so smooth etc. Guitar players who have this approach to their guitars often overlook the unique quality guitars have: Each of them sound- and feel different. It is an art to find out what your taste is, and to find guitars which match that taste. I will create more blogs on this particular subject but for today, I only want to make you aware of the different feel and sound of your guitars, and to use this for your creative powers. Why are all guitars different? A few reasons, again too many to discuss in one article. One reason is the different factories around the world, and the tools which are being used for building the guitar, these change from time to time. It is true that all guitars of a particular period in time will feel and look somewhat similar. Sunburst colours do look different throughout the times. There are the particular 1970s colours, and you will see this amoung all brands. It is due to the kind of paints and finish which were being used etc. Quite and interesting subject in itself but too deep a subject for today’s article.
— Pick-Ups:Single Coil Electric and Humbuck Guitars—
If you have one of the above, educate yourself how your pick-ups work what they stand for and find out about the other pick-ups: What makes them sound and feel different? Next thing is to play some of those guitars equipped with pick-ups you do not own yourself. Maybe borrow one of a friend before you buy one yourself. However you go about it, once you own one of each, listen carefully to their sounds, play the same thing on one guitar, use the other one and listen to how different is feels and sounds. You may want to write a song just using that one guitar, because it sounds so thick and dark. The guitar may inspire you to write a really mean riff. Let your electrics inspire you in sound, and use that sound as a starting block for your writingprocess, more about this later on.
—Play Electric Guitar without Using the Amp—
You must be joking Eddie! Do you do this yourself? All the time!! and I will tell you why: An electric guitar without the amp will speak through its strings and woods. Tune up a few electrics, play the same musical idea on each guitar. What do you hear? Changes are it will sound different with each guitar you play. Now use your amp, and those differences will be exaggerated through the pick-ups and tonecontrols of the amp. Playing an electric without an amp will also improve your tone as you need to work on it, you actually make the sound, not the pick-ups and amp. Once you amplify the guitar, the pick-ups and the amp will interact with your tone. Only inexperienced guitarplayers tend to think their amp is responsible for their tone and volume. Do not be fooled: You create your own tone, it starts with you, your mental state of being and your fingers, from there the amp and the pick-ups of your guitar become an extension of you, not the other way around!
—Acoustic-or Electric Guitar—
Try using both guitars as they are both different animals. If you have never played an electric guitar changes are you will miss the bigger bodyshape of your acoustic, you may even treat the electric just as another acoustic. A lot of beginners fall into this category, because they do not experiment with the amp, pedals and tone in general. Why not? Partly personality, partly not knowing what to look for in sound and electric guitar in general. There must be a reason why we eneded up with an electric guitar on this planet. The answer is volume, once people knew this they started looking for more, and tone was the next thing people started manipulating. Jimi Hendrix pushed the envelope in the 1960s, he was not the first one to use effects, but he was the first guitarplayer who openly admitted to the world how fond he was about using his effect pedals.
An easy way to manipulate the tone on the electric guitar is to use your tonecontrol. In itself the tonecontrol is a mini-wah. I am really fond of using it, as you have your own build-in wah. Play around with it, if you like it become curious in a wah pedal, which really is a tonecontrol you can manipulate with you feet to change the tone of your guitar instead of using your fingers to work the tone control.
—Let Your Sound Tell You What to Play—
Once you have a particular sound with your amp, guitar and effects, use this sound as a springboard for creating riffs or a chordsequence. Do not think too much about what you are doing as the sound may be just right for what you are playing now, play same idea on an acoustic and it may not make any sense at all. You may only play a few notes, but so what?, it sounds wonderful so use it for writing a new song with. Document how you create that sound so you can recall the sound a few days later.
—Night Time Playing—
Night time is the time when all around is becomes quite and dark, a perfect moment as the human brain tends to relax and work in a different way: It is less critical and just want to create not matter how it comes out. During the busy hours of daylight there are all kind of critical voices in our head at work, voices which tell you how to play, how not to play, how to behave ect. All pretty normal stuff really, as we operate in a world around us, a world which puts rules on us on how to behave and act as we are with other people, but a nighttime this critical voice inside us is less active, use this to get to your fun moments of joy and playing. Record what you come up with, some of it may be pure nonesense, but there may also be some great moments. Use these ideas as a starting point for a new song.
These are just a sample of some of the things I use, there is a lot more, but again, I will create specific articles in future which will deal with this subject. There will be blogs on how to use your capo creatively, how the use of open tunings can open up a new world, the wonderful world of distortion, what Equalizer pedals can do for your amp. All of these topics can stand on their own, but really they are all about the inspiration and the joys of sound coming from your guitar.
For now, have fun, do not be to critical as you are only human, but at the same time stay focused on what it is you want to do.
Hope to see you soon to read the next article which will be about setting goals for yourself and how it can improve your guitarplaying.