What do you do when you can't finish a song?

Discussion in 'Education' started by AlmostNormal, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. garfinkle

    garfinkle Noisemaker

    Feb 25, 2014
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    Now there's a song that shouldn't have been finished.
  2. Thankful

    Thankful Platinum Record

    Feb 14, 2014
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  3. DarthFader

    DarthFader Audiosexual

    Sep 28, 2014
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    Erm.... loop the last twelve bars and fade out. Then, put the track on your back burner and start a new one. What you'll gain from structuring a brand new track will (eventually) feed back into ways to finish the shelved track without copping out.

    Don't think of it as abandoned without hope. It's merely maturing in the cask.
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  4. fleschdnb

    fleschdnb Ultrasonic

    Jan 31, 2014
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    i hear what you are saying..but in my own personal experience, the type of writers block he is referring to comes from lack of inspiration and-or enthusiasm for a track he is writing. If i dont have those two things, it means i need to move on.
  5. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Hello my friend .
    There quite a few things I have to say on this topic .

    The first is a type of mental image .
    Picture what an intro is like
    Picture what a verse is like
    Picture what a chorus is like
    Picture what a bridge is like
    Picture what a outro is like.

    Then you can see in a specific situation
    What you have so far, and what you need next to work toward finishing .

    Next to delve into the details portion a bit more .

    Is what you have 1 layer or melody?
    Or do you have a whole song section with all instrument layers just not the test of song sections?

    Next what branch of music is it?
    Is it modal based or tonal based or atonal based?

    Let's say if it was modal based .

    Say it was in the key of C major .
    And the song is F Lydian .

    This means you have 7 chords .

    F Lydian FGABCDEF

    There's 5 main flavors

    Try each of them 5 over top a FAC in bass.

    Now mixing up your chords .
    Make a main melody and chords under
    That's your chorus of the song .

    Next break it down to be less exciting and more simple that will be your intro.
    Now make a companion melody and chords but lower in sound and using less chords less excitement that's your verse
    Now make a make melody with chords
    Which sounds lot different
    That's your bridge.
    And lastly take your intro but make a variation of it that's different but similar that's your outro .

    If there's anything more you'd like me to day regarding specifics tayloered to you personally
    I'm happy to help.
  6. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Let's look at how a type of basic music theory could be used to write a complete song.

    Take the key of C major for this one .
    2 DFA

    There 3 functions ( locations )
    Tonic CEG, EGB, ACE...( Relaxed home
    Subdominant DFA, FAC..( little movement away
    Dominant GBD BDF. ..( tension far from home

    So 7 chords in 3 category.

    Let's explore the tonic home .

    These 3 chords are the main character and home relaxed consonant .

    Let's see how to travel through them .

    EGB the B slides up to C , CEG the G slides up to A

    ( Or go in the reverse direction

    If though something is happening
    It's all tonic so it's establishing the main character .
    In order for the story to develop ,
    You need to leave home.

    This brings the subdominant
    DFA, FAC
    These 2 chords make the character leave home with motion .

    Take what we had so far .


    Now in the end we can add subdominant .


    That moment we get to the FAC, FAD
    Now the story has taken off.
    But to get to the adventure we need the
    GBD, FBD

    This is traveling far from home a battle with the enemy

    Take what we had so far


    Now we add this .

    FBD, GBD


    Now that we established home and main character then left for adventure, hit the main climax fighting enemy we need a victorious win
    ( Means going back home once again


    It's a simple example but hopefully one that expands your imagination .
  7. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Let's say you wanted to write a song using atonal music.
    With this language branch of music
    12 notes of equal worth
    ( Equality based music (
    You never repeat the same note until you use all 12 first .
    It's like using notes and chords like drums .

    First layer is the melody .

    C up to G# up A up B down F# down E down D down C# up F up G down D# down A#
    up C long ring


    E down B up C down G up D up A down F# down F
    Up G# down C# up A# down D#
    Up E long ring.
  8. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    To boil it down to one sentence.
    ( If it even can be ...)

    The secret to finishing music is to have every possibility in your minds eye regarding any specific form.
    So depending on the backbone structure you set in place at the beginning, you want to be able to mentally visualize every option .
    ( Because when you write a song you end up using a couple options or maybe a few out of mAny thousands .)

    You can even go as arbitrary or abstract as you want for a main scafolding of the song.

    Say you not even considering using
    Tonal modal or Atonal separate languages.
    To pick one .
    Your just mentally picturing a intro ,verse,chorus,verse,bridge,chorus,outro
    All you have to do is picture the main thing you already have done and make the variations.
    Make 25 melodies for 1 chord then pick a few of them to use.
    Or you have a beat .
    Make 25 variations of the beat ( sensible to song sections)
    Then just pick the best to use that song.
    Do this for everything and you'll never have writers block or run out ideas again .

    My advice learn the 3 languages .
    Learn tonal language
    Modal language
    Atonal language

    Because say you chose tonal language
    Then key of C major for the song.
    Just by understanding how it works your options
    Seen to you .for ex

    Key of c major

    CEGB Cmaj7
    Is the center focus

    You have 2 variations Emin7 EGBD and Amin7ACEG

    But just even looking at one Cmaj7 CEGB

    You have thousands options with just that each unique and different yet all compatible with each other.
    ( It's like how in your spoken language you can say thousands sentence to describe 1 idea .
    But each sentence is different each other )
    Music same way .

    Music is delivered to us by sound but is not sound itself music is deeper than that.
    Just in the same way as this sentence I am typing right now is not about the visual shapes of the letters and the visual of the words.
    It's only delivered visually.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2019
  9. Olymoon

    Olymoon MODERATOR Staff Member

    Jan 31, 2012
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    I understand that you're doing this with good intention, but I doubt that this is the place/topic for such a long theory exposé.
    Many musicians, knowing theory have problem to finish songs, so it's more about the mental position and the structure process than about specific chord progression/melodic thinking (what you call languages).
  10. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Yes I totally agree.
    Sorry if I didn't communicate so easy to understand at first sight .
    I was trying to say that in cases where a person is just going on intuition and not a specific form ,
    By mentally visualizing
    A intro
    A verse
    A chorus
    A bridge
    A outro
    Visualize them in terms of variations of what portion the person was able to complete so far.
    And that if they can make several variations of the completed portion which they already achieved .
    Just in terms of how they visualize the separate forms of a song .
    In this way no matter if a language was used or not
    There is always a way to overcome the difficulty of incomplete music.
    I hope that is a little more helpful.

    Then the second portion
    Was just a recommendation to learn the 3 languages
    In so far that they give a way to see thousands options for any one thing a personal has written
    An anology
    Would be with spoken language
    Imagine a person has a topic of interest .
    They have come up with a decent sized portion of it to talk about and it spans the topic, however they feel it is not complete it too short even.
    They could expand the length of each bullet point from intro till end.
    ( Using all the same knowledge which they began with ) using variations of the original and perhaps going into more depth on each bullet point as a result.
    Subsequently having more material and finally making it feel completed to themselves at the end .

    When it comes to music , say you had a person
    Had no knowledge of the languages they played and wrote and composed entirely intuitively.
    Each melody or rhythm or progression they created they were able to easily come up with 50 variation s on equal footing of that melody rhythm or progression each time they made one.
    My philosophy is they would have no need to learn the music languages because they have everything they need to express themselves forever.

    I know it may seem like I wrote a lot in these few comments .
    But my perspective is the op is asking about the topic
    " Writers block"
    I believe I offer a solution to this topic
    For all people for the rest of time.
    The solution to writers block is variation .
    By using the same ability the person used to create the completed portion of which they were happy with .and that leads into music theory in the sense that the only reason it exists at all and the only reason the musical languages exist, is to show you every possibility .( To those that cannot intuit infinite variations on their own
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
  11. The Observer

    The Observer Guest

    Every country in the world has songwriting masterclasses.
    You can probably google that very title. That may be the most sensible solution.

    Many of them are run by well-known songwriters. It's always a good idea to get the information from people who have made a career from it at least as a starting point.
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  12. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    Some pretty good advice , however
    My point of view ( I'll present it like this )
    Is that there is no scientific connection between what people do to make money , And how music works itself.
    For example if you look at the billboard charts
    Those people have success .
    But the music they are making is entry level music.
    It's a fancy nursery rhyme.
    ( Not saying the thing they made is bad ){ they set a goal and it accomplishes that goal sales }
    It's very under developed .
    They use about 5% of music knowledge
    So what I am saying is making music for the purpose of selling and making money
    Is mostly about cultural things, people things.
    Things like popularity what's in Vogue
    What the person looks like, what has sold before,
    What I mean is the music portion is almost on existent .
    3 chords a couple notes nothing happening.
    A lot into a beat and a lot into the clarity of the sound sound fx, ( timbre)
    What I am saying is there no music in there barely.
    It's all a cultural high school popularity thing who you know being the cool person.
    There's nothing musical involved.
    ( Compared to studying music itself.)
    People who are successful with music put their energy into popularity , it's all focused on money making ( not connected to how music works
    Advirtising, ( not connected how music works.
    Making beats that push air to dance
    ( Not connected to o how music works other than the placement of sounds in time that's 1 tiny portion of music as a whole )
    When you look at the complete picture all the details of that situation.
    The inner workings of how music works
    Is barely existing.
    Then that 1 percent it is there .
    The music portion is worse than what 1 week of music education would give you.
    Any billboard chart song is a nursery rhyme level of music
    Like " happy birthday to you"
    Or " nah nah n n nah nah *
    Like little kid infantile.
    But it gets worse it's not nursery rhymes about eating green beans.
    It's nursery rhymes about sex!
    Not going in love with your soulmate with dignity
    It's nursery rhymes about treating human beings as if they are rubber sex dolls with no dignity
    Nursery rhymes for sociopaths .
    I myself value above all other things the motions of
    ( In no particular order)

    So in summary
    " Selling music "
    Being " successful "
    Has no music involved much less than 5 hours of music education will give you.
    What sells is nursery rhymes with sociopathic
    Content, treating humans beings in the song that
    You are the only human being which exists ,
    Others are there for you to treat like a rubber sex doll.
    This is prostituting music.
    You are selling nursery rhymes
    ( Underdeveloped music that adults , sophisticated minds have no use for )
    Music that only very young children are impacted by.
    Then taking pedophile and sociopathic visuals and philosophy and content as the words for the nursery rhymes .

    If you care about music at all this is opposite of what you really want .
  13. MMJ2017

    MMJ2017 Audiosexual

    Mar 12, 2017
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    How to get good at music.( Simple explanation lol

    1.write a song for your mom mother's day ( only for her ears.( Or dad father's day
    2.write a song for your best friend for only them to hear talking about what's meaning ful to you
    3.write a song for your wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend. Talk about or play about what they mean to you how they improved your life

    This approach will transform your musicianship and your life.
  14. samsome

    samsome Ultrasonic

    Apr 4, 2015
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    when I can't finish a song I I I, I I I, let it rain over me
  15. oldskoolproductions

    oldskoolproductions Ultrasonic

    Sep 8, 2013
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    First of all, writer's block sucks. When I get stuck I fall back at what I do best. I pick up my guitar and write parts and Ideas. I record them into my daw and convert them to midi. I'm a horrible piano player, so this helps me alot. But overall I try to create the arrangement of the whole song at the beginning of the process. Typically Pop Structure: Intro - Verse - Chorus - Verse - Double Chorus - Bridge/Breakdown - Double Chorus. i will even lay out arrangement markers in my DAW so I know when the the next part is about to start.

    Then once I have all the basic chords or basslines, then I get working trying to make it interesting trying different sound patches and FX.

    Sometimes, I will start with a Loop (Bass, Chords, Melody, Drums or vocal) then I build an Idea from that loop then delete from the track once Im happy with it.

    If your melody or bassline has a good vibe then you should be able to come up with something to write after it. Even something as simple as a one note groove. Experiment with different Rhythms and learn a couple scales on your keyboard (Penatonic Minor and the Major scale) for melodies and basslines. Also try to write songs in the same key, this way you can learn the chords and notes from that particular scale. A Minor and C Major use all the white keys on your keyboard. Don't forget you can alway use midi to transpose the notes into different keys once you've finished creating your parts.

  16. The Observer

    The Observer Guest

    I read all of that.

    My point while possibly too short is to find a masterclass with their favorite artist as it gives them an opportunity to get inside their head. An in-person class with someone the person is influenced by, is inspirational for anyone.
    It can give a whole new burst of life, creativity and aid in unblocking the mental barriers that were stopping them before :)

    EDIT: Your approach at a theoretical level is sound, but it also is reliant on if the person commenced the piece that way and alternatively if they did it all by ear, as the resort to turn to when the ears no longer wish to cooperate., because they would rather finish it asap, rather than wait for more inspiration.

    'The odd notion that an artist does not think and a scientific enquirer does nothing else is the result of converting a difference of tempo and emphasis into a difference in kind.'
    (John Dewey, 1934, p. 15)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2019
  17. Jay Weed

    Jay Weed Ultrasonic

    Jan 4, 2016
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    Try modulating to another key or restate a key melody in the 5th and use I IV V to give it another way of working. When the end is needed borrow standard blues endings from classics. That don't work then start writing another song with the same basic content as the song you are trying to end and then connect the two songs together and make one out of them and maybe something comes out of that.
  18. Rorer

    Rorer Kapellmeister

    Sep 13, 2019
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    "What do you do when you can't finish a song?"
    The trick is to let the particular song go, and move on to the next song.
    It takes some time to learn that.
    Eventually, you go back when you grow older to that song and think...

    Well... It's finished :)
    Nothing is forever.
  19. Olymoon

    Olymoon MODERATOR Staff Member

    Jan 31, 2012
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    Someone said: Art is 10% inspiration 90% transpiration.
    At some point there is work to be done.
    If you abandon a song once you don't feel the magic you will end up with hundred of "once where magic" short ideas, and none finished.
    Also, forcing yourself to finish a song will educate and prepare yourself to finish better the next one, and the next one etc...
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  20. ( . ) ( . )

    ( . ) ( . ) Audiosexual

    Jul 29, 2013
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    can't agree more...