Quick Take- Just Write Something! How To Deal With Composer’s Block

I can say from experience that having creative blocks is The Worst.

It’s a scenario we know all too well. You sit down to write a piece of music. Ten, twenty minutes pass. You’re still staring at a blank piece of sheet music, or an empty project in your DAW. Eventually, you get distracted by cat pictures on Facebook (which we all do). Then an hour or so passes… and… what were you trying to do again?

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This picture was quite distracting today.

First of all, put your phone on the other side of the room. Get rid of any distractions. Sit down, and write something.

Sometimes, even when we¬†do eliminate our distractions and sit down to write, we can still be plagued by the dreaded Composer’s Block. Happens to all of us.

As someone who is often tasked to write a whole lot of music, I can’t afford to come down with a case of the dreaded Composer’s Block. So if I’m not quite feeling creative, here’s a few things I do:

  1. Improvise- Often times, I start my writing sessions by sitting at the piano and just playing something. Anything, really. I usually explore interesting tonal shifts and lyrical melodies, which is a big characteristic of my music. Often times, improvising is enough to get me started on writing a piece.
  2. Play another piece of music- To get me inspired, I sometimes enjoy playing other pieces as well. Some of my current go-to pieces are “In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning”, “Gnossienne 1”, “Prelude 1”, and of course, various videogame tunes. I think about the harmonic progressions of these pieces, and what makes it interesting.
  3. Make a musical sketch- I’ll come up with a few interesting ideas for melody, harmonic progression, bassline, etc, and sketch them out. I force myself to finish these sketches in about 5 minutes, so I can sit down with Finale and start fleshing out these pieces. I’ve posted pictures of these sketches on my Twitter before- they’re usually super barebones but provide a foundation for me to build a whole piece on. Effective for orchestra pieces, which are inherently quite complex.

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Here is one such sketch!

Anyway, hope this quick post helps you out with any creative blocks you may face in the future. Remember, it happens to the best of us, but keep in mind that you can conquer it! Find out what works for you.

Let me know what you think of this article by shouting out to me @ACMenes on Twitter!

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