How to write a song on guitar that will sound more original and unique? Try the following approach!
When I learned how to play guitar, my teacher gave me many pages with diagrams of chords and scales that I was supposed to memorise. It’s interesting how learning music can be so visual, and at least some of these shapes had symmetry which was easier to remember. But I didn’t feel inspired, so I thought can I come up with my own shapes?
I started playing with triangles, squares, and other forms. Some sounded great and others were a bit weird and different. I liked the odd ones, which felt like exciting and unpredictable discoveries. Initially, I used it for creating interesting melodies, and then tried to create chord shapes as well.
My approach to shape progressions
The starting point is to simply place the fingers on the fretboard and to create a certain shape. It can be similar to a chord or it can be a more complicated shape. Now play it and try to hear where it wants to go, or where it can go. Then, move that shape right-left-up-down-diagonally, and listen to the interactions while disregarding any “normal” chord shapes you may want to play as a force of habit.
In standard tuning, playing on different strings results in different combinations of sounds. It’s like the shape is shifting although it remains the same. Once you find a reasonable shape progression, do more experimentation to explore what else you can do with it. For example:
- Change the rhythm and picking pattern.
- Apply dynamics and articulation.
- Add melodic ideas and tensions.
These are just a few common variations we can think of in music. But if you go back to thinking visually, any shape can also be flipped and rotated. So if we alter that shape in some way, it will sound completely different. However, since it originated from the same form, it will bear some relation to the first shape. So this can be a cool idea for a B part.
Again, it won’t sound the same on all strings, and surprises (nice or unpleasant) will occur. So if something sounds too weird, it’s okay to slightly adapt the shape. After all, it’s music, not graphic design… Although limiting ourselves can be more fun.
Now it’s your turn to write a song on guitar
This is just one way to compose music through visual experimentation and improvisation. Can you use this approach to compose music? Can you think of more cool visual approaches to write music? I’ve just opened a safe space where you can share your thoughts and attempts with a mission to enhance creative thinking on the guitar and to inspire others and to get inspired. Sign up for FREE here: https://creativeguitar.college/unlock-your-guitar-creativity/ and share your attempt there!
Here’s my attempt:
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