Put Down Your Weapon

Put down your instrument and unleash your creativity. By staying away from your instrument when you are writing melody, you can actually free yourself from some old restraints. If you usually write with your instrument, this will open up new possibilities for you.

Write a melody first, in your head or out loud, without any chordal instruments nearby. You can be in the shower, in bed, hiking, commuting, at your day job, etc. If it helps, record it into an inexpensive handheld voice recorder. If you don’t have one, you can phone yourself and leave yourself a musical voicemail.

Once you are happy with the melody, only then should you go to your instrument to start finding chords/accompaniment. You’ll be surprised how well this works. You might find yourself writing more interesting (or at least different) chord progressions than usual, as well as more daring melodies, new voicings, even new rhythms. Try it and let me know what happens.

Why does this work? This is only a theory. We are creatures of habit. After learning certain patterns, we tend to repeat the patterns. Maybe that’s the way the brain works, I don’t know the science of it. For myself, I learned certain picking patterns on the guitar and I practiced them over and over. Now my fingers seem to go there by default. If I write a song while holding the guitar, I tend play a familiar pattern. Maybe it’s muscle memory.

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One Response to “Put Down Your Weapon”

  1. WaywardNowHome Says:

    That makes sense. I only started writing songs recently so I haven’t had much experience doing anything other than playing a few chord progressions and adding melodies to them. I’ll have to try this out!

    The only thing that might be a problem is finding the best chord to accompany the melody. 😛

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