Expanding Creativity By Setting Limits

guitar instructions

I think we’ve all gotten stuck at times creatively- when trying a part to play on a song, or writing a song.

I feel sometimes that the ‘limitless’ possibilities of creativity can be a bit overwhelming; it can be difficult to find a good direction when there are many different ways to go.

And many of those ‘ways’ can wind up being blind alleys.

I’ve found that I will often set ‘limits’ for myself when I get stuck, and many times those limits can actually force good creative flow….

By ‘limits’ I mean a rule that you follow while trying to write or play a new part. Here’s some examples (and I would generally only use one at a time):

• I will not bend a string on this song.
• I will play on only the lowest octave of the neck.
• I will play this without my normal guitar tone. (If I always use distortion I will turn it off).
• I will not directly follow the chords to the song, I will focus on the root.
• I will not play single notes anywhere on this song.

I am not suggesting you use these exact rules- make them up to fit your situation. Because they are YOUR artificially imposed rules you can drop them or change them if it doesn’t work out.

References:

Guitar Improvisation Guide – http://www.guitarplayerworld.com/improvisation/


Here’s another example…. I had written a riff for a song I was trying to write- I had something that sounded like a good ‘chorus’ part, that was based around an a minor and G chords.

For weeks I tried to find the verse and bridge that would complete the song. I tried to change to all of the different chords and nothing ever sounded right to me. Whenever I switched away from the a minor or G, the song lost it’s feel. I was stuck.

Since no other chords fit with my chorus, tried creating a ‘rule’. Write a verse and a bridge and you can ONLY use A minor and G. And they all need to sound like distinct parts.

In about 10 minutes the song was finished and it turned out a lot better than I had expected. I doubt the song would have gotten finished if I hadn’t created a ‘rule’ to follow.

Hope this helps someone dig out of a rut…