Composing music is an art that has many benefits to one’s musicianship. It will help you become a better improviser. It will add a new dimension to your soundtracks.

Your technique will improve.

Everyone wants to hear a new recording of original music. Composing music will also improve your listening abilities and learn to appreciate all music.

Writing your first tune might be kind of intimidating. You may question yourself and think that there is too much to composing music or that I don’t know enough stuff to even begin making my soundtracks. Remember that there will always be more rules and music theory but don’t let that stop you. Why not let composing music be a personal thing like writing in a diary or something. Think of it as exploring sounds. Keep the sounds you like and get rid of the rest and make some tune out of it. Just ignore the fact that your tune will not be theoretically valid. I mean what’s theory other than an after the fact way of categorizing what was written. Basically, theory just describes your music in fancy terms written by musicians who trusted their ears. If you don’t know how to write down music, just put it on tape. Just get started and the more you do the easier it gets over time.

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Another thing I hear musicians fearing is the fact that your music is not original. Let me tell you that the most unique music written will sound like something else that’s been done before. The reason is perhaps you’ve been influenced by a certain band or artist and have listened to that type of music a hundred times over. Your sensibilities are filtering this and what comes out are things you heard before. This is the type of music you like most.

There’s no right or wrong way to begin composing music. You might begin with a groove on a drum machine or a chord progression that sounds cool or simply launch into a melody. Some ideas come out of improvising over chords. I’ve heard of some musicians putting sounds together to create a mood.

Some musicians compose at their respective instruments or away from their instruments and just jot down notes on a piece of staff paper Another great tool to have is some way of recording yourself. Recording yourself will help you keep a log of the best ideas and then sometime later listening back to them can jog the creative mind into adding more to it and gradually a tune emerges. Some composers can have three or four tunes “under construction”. Getting stuck in the middle of writing happens to everyone. Having a log of ideas can also help get unstuck. Don’t force the issue, if you get stuck, let go and come back to it at a later time, after all forcing the issue will only make you write something that doesn’t quite work.

One thing that worked for me was to start describing the tunes I wanted to write.

I want to write something that has a Pat Metheny vibe.

How about I write a tune that is kind of like a Chick Corea.

A funk blues with lots of 16th note rhythms.

Perhaps something in 6/8 time.

Having a general framework to bounce off is great because it sets your mind thinking about what it takes to capture the essence of that feel and try to sound like it. And by the way all of my soundtracks never really came out like a Chick Corea or Pat Metheny tunes they actually took on a life of their own.

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