Tip #68 – Boxed Melody

Continuing with the idea of limitation to unlock creativity, take into the idea of boxed melody.

Basically, this means keeping the span of the melody to a relatively close interval (at most a P5) over a set bass pitch.

Below is a commonality of limited melodic range found in blues harmony. Play around with setting yourself some criteria of limitations as to which pitches you can use over each unique harmonic root. Don’t always make it tonal, too. Experiment and have fun!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #3

Here is a little reminder of a tip to use when going back and revising your lyrics:

Aims for emotional/psychological consistency. Meaning, the emotional connotations and suggestions of the words (literal or symbolic) all portray roughly the same thing. This might be tough and useless if you are planning on writing an epic poem of a song – but for short singles, this is really effective.

For example: if your song is about happiness and love and you say “I’d kill just to be with you my love” – well, there is some inconsistency. You have a song about love, but a word in the middle the suggests anger.

Look to be consistent ahead of your rough draft by making a word bank of words, and research common symbolism in literature as well as music.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

How To Beat Writer’s Block – Tip #6

For this activity to get the creative juices flowing – I want you to think about opposites in life.

There is a yin and yang to everything. Dark and light. Good and bad. Tension and relaxation. Both sides now to come together into one.

In music, there is a great deal of tension and release to make the music interesting as well as flowing in growth/shape. But how can you come up with some cool ways of opposites to mimic tension and release?

Take two completely opposite music genres (in your opinion) and make a Venn diagram. The outer circles will obviously be used for listing aspects of the genres that are strictly unique. As for the section of overlap, that will be common traits shared between both genres. You might be surprised by how much they overlap!

Used the overlapped traits as the basis for your composition (or completely disregard it – your choice). Then, label one outer circle your “tension” and the other “relaxation.”

Now, try composing your music using your new traits of “tension and relaxation” found in the opposites of genres from different ends of the spectrum.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #67 – Dead Thumb Influences in Part Writing

In the past I have been very vocal about many things; in particular, advising that people should not write music to their own performance ability.  I caution against this because it places creativity in a limited space, it doesn’t challenge the composer/performer to grow, and it boarders the high probability of regurgitation of common predictable themes.

That being said (in all irony), I will be talking about taking influence from different blues fingerstyles of guitar playing to inspire part writing for compositional purposes.  While this will limit the compositional ability as to what can be done using the physical limitations of the described guitar style, I do encourage people who are reading this to “think outside the box” and experiment to how these style can transverse over into new creative applications.

Today, I will be talking about the “dead thumb” playing of blues music that is predominantly found in the Texas and deep Southern areas of the United States.

Dead thumb may seem boring, but it provides the important drone of the tonic found in blues music.  Basically, it is hitting the root (and only the root) every beat, or in the swing rhythm.  Occasionally, there might be a pattern of alternating between the power chord and M6 voicing of the root.

In this tip, imagine yourself playing in that style and understand what is physically possible as well as typically normal.  Mentally practice this, and then write/play/annotate/record it.

Remember, always be creative above everything else.  While keeping to rules and limitation can help focus on certain aspects on your composition, never go for less than what you are capable of.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #66 – Utility Thumb Influences in Part Writing

In the past I have been very vocal about many things; in particular, advising that people should not write music to their own performance ability.  I caution against this because it places creativity in a limited space, it doesn’t challenge the composer/performer to grow, and it boarders the high probability of regurgitation of common predictable themes.

That being said (in all irony), I will be talking about taking influence from different blues fingerstyles of guitar playing to inspire part writing for compositional purposes.  While this will limit the compositional ability as to what can be done using the physical limitations of the described guitar style, I do encourage people who are reading this to “think outside the box” and experiment to how these style can transverse over into new creative applications.

Today, I will be talking about the “utility thumb” playing of blues music that is predominantly found in the Delta area of the United States.

Utility thumb means that the bass note, provided by the thumb hitting the lowest note of the harmony on the guitar, is done on occasion.  It is approximately needed at least once a measure, and usually hits on an offbeat.  So, it is very reserved and only played when needed.

In this tip, imagine yourself playing in that style and understand what is physically possible as well as typically normal.  Mentally practice this, and then write/play/annotate/record it.

Remember, always be creative above everything else.  While keeping to rules and limitation can help focus on certain aspects on your composition, never go for less than what you are capable of.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #65 – Alternating Thumb Influences in Part Writing

In the past I have been very vocal about many things; in particular, advising that people should not write music to their own performance ability.  I caution against this because it places creativity in a limited space, it doesn’t challenge the composer/performer to grow, and it boarders the high probability of regurgitation of common predictable themes.

That being said (in all irony), I will be talking about taking influence from different blues fingerstyles of guitar playing to inspire part writing for compositional purposes.  While this will limit the compositional ability as to what can be done using the physical limitations of the described guitar style, I do encourage people who are reading this to “think outside the box” and experiment to how these style can transverse over into new creative applications.

Today, I will be talking about the “alternating thumb” playing of blues music that is predominantly found in the “Piedmont” area of the United States (east of Appalachian Mountains).

Alternating thumb is pretty much as the name goes.  The thumb alternates playing different bass notes on the guitar (usually in a pattern from low to high) while the index and middle finger play syncopated lines in the treble area.  This occurs on every primary beat, or in a “slower” equivalent of every other beat.  Counterpoint can be made with the division between what the bass is playing and what the other fingers are.  Plus, the thumb can alternate with the fingers to form a conjunct melodic line in moving motion to another harmony.

In this tip, imagine yourself playing in that style and understand what is physically possible as well as typically normal.  Mentally practice this, and then write/play/annotate/record it.

Remember, always be creative above everything else.  While keeping to rules and limitation can help focus on certain aspects on your composition, never go for less than what you are capable of.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #64 – Natural Influences from the Harmonic Series

Sometimes, musical influence can come from nature, natural phenomenon, events, science, math, etc.

How about basing a piece, a scale, a harmonic progression… whatever you can think of, around the Harmonic Series of overtones.

The harmonic series comes from the production of sounded overtones which each fractional division of a vibrating string’s wavelength. It is an infinitely divergent series of wavelengths, pitches, and corresponding notes produced. Below is a small account of the first 12 overtones:

It should be noted that mathematically, some of the overtones do not fit exactly to what is should be in the tempered 12-tone system of Western notation. Those with extreme and noticeable deviations from the Western “norm” have been marked with a downwards-arrow symbol above the designated pitch of interest.

Regardless, one could take this phenomenon and use it as a scale, the underlining harmony to a progression, a start to a 12-tone row, etc. Be creative and have fun with it!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.