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Okay so this is my first post on this forum so I don't really know the etiquette or whatever, but I'll just go ahead and explain my problem.

I've been wanting to compose music since before I can remember, and I play piano and guitar and I know music theory and all that jazz so it's not like I don't have the necessary tools. But every time I go to my piano to compose something, anything, I feel blocked, like I can't put what I hear in my head down on paper. Not in terms of rhythm or anything. I can hear the completed song in my head, but I just can't, or maybe I don't know how to properly emulate it.

There's also an issue I have where I have trouble making music just for the sake of making music, and usually when I come up with an idea it has to be attached to a scene of some kind, or there has to be some kind of visual I have in my mind before composing, so that makes it even harder for me to actually start making stuff. Does anyone else have this problem? How can I get past these blocks in my head so I can actually write music for once? Thanks in advance!

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But I create scenes for myself.

For me it isn't necessarily a scene, it can also be an idea of some sort. Like the people from Beethoven area.

I don't really understand why having a scene bothers you. For me it's a tool that shows the direction and the development of the piece.

If you're worried about what people are going to say about it, remember that you don't have to tell them the exact idea.

My Battle piece describes a scene when a knight goes to battle... and then falls off his horse to the nearest bush around the middle, Yet nobody knows a thing about that.

I think.

Anyway, about writing the exact thing you have in your head- I sing it to myself and then sits on the piano/computer until I get the (not necessarily exact) notes.

If you're worried about the color- it's something I've never learned to do. I just keep my basic idea and give it a new color.

You know, there have been so many times when people told me I got to come immediately and I just couldn't because I wanted to finish shaping my idea. 

I have lots of recordings in my phone of me singing my ideas, from the times I just didn't have the time to finish writing them.

Just try to find the notes and you'll be fine. Or so I hope.

Anything else... let me think... 

if you're worried about developing your basic idea... well you can read about it or ask people here I'm just not sure that that's what you asked for.


I hope that my answer is good because I''m afraid I might have got a little bit off the topic.

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On 12/1/2017 at 5:24 PM, Rabbival507 said:

My best personal solution for these is probably: sing it to yourself. When you're at work, or on the way to work. or waiting for the program to load XD

That way, your subconscious will keep working on that, and in a while you'll come with an idea for more.

Other than that... Try to start small with one or two instruments, and add the others step by step. 

Another idea is drawing yourself a line- when it's high the music is at climax or close to it,

and when it's low almost nothing happens, exepct for maybe a quiet bass line.

Coming up with the form of the piece will help you develop it.

Also, try to think of a story to your piece, it might be helpful.

When I do that it really helps me developing idea.

I hope that was helpful.

I wonder if you noticed

that the lines keep 






Also this

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Maybe you're trying to do too much at once. Harmony, rhythm, colour, tempo, melody, feel, orchestration, dynamics, yada yada yada... it's a lot of stuff to consider.


Try eliminating a lot of it. Limit various elements and focus on one thing.

  • Take an existing harmonic progression, write a new melody for it.
  • Take an existing melody and re-harmonize.
  • Take a piano piece and re-orchestrate it for a string quartet.
  • Take a piano + soloist piece and write some accompanying background figures for it.

Or whatever.

Artificially limiting yourself will force you to focus on one or two elements, you'll learn a lot along the way. You'll also write some terrible stuff. Embrace it. Eventually good things will flow. Don't expect any of these exercises to be actual, presentable pieces - it's homework. It's practice. They're musical workouts. You have to get in shape before you try and run the race. 

So, don't worry about being blocked. Knock away one block at a time, be patient with yourself and don't expect great things right off the bat.

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Ever composer goes through exactly what you describing.  Mental blocks, difficulty in putting what is in my head to paper (or computer screen) etc., I experience this constantly.

Honestly, I wish there was an easy way to do it, but for 99.9% of us, composing good music is hard.  My advice is to just write and know that much of what you write is not going to be up to your standards off the bat.  One of the great American composers (I think it was Samuel Barber though I can't find the exact quote) one said that most important tool for the composer is the eraser.  In the end, it's always easier to take a bad piece and keep working on it and honing it to something better, then to come up with something great immediately.  Study music that you like and emulate or flat out steal what you think works well and put it into your earlier efforts as you try to get better.  Sometimes to try to get inspiration, I'll arrange a piece I like for a different ensemble as a way to learn from the music up close, or write a set of theme and variations where your compositional process is more focused.  Save everything you write, no matter how small it is; sometimes coming back and looking at an old work in progress or fragment can be a source of inspiration.


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Great advice from robinjessome and bkho, but something else to mention is to not stop listening to music of all styles. All of them... Medieval organum, to Beethoven string quartets, to Patti Page or Elvis... you should always be learning the roots from which you're writing on, listening for things you find cool, things you want to expand on, or even things you don't like, because then you'll learn new tools to try to emulate your scenes.

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