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Long, meandering post incoming. If no one posts in response to this, I will simultaneously completely understand given its length and yet be horrified that I've typed so much and it hasn't even deserved a single reply. It's definitely getting into the brain fart category. :lol:

I was just going to reply to SpawnSC's song structures thread, and it got me thinking about those moments (I think most, if not all of us, get them) and figured it might be worth its own thread. Probably best if I just give an example, that way we'll know what we're talking about, and you can call me insane or a freak if you like :lol:

Ok, so I start off with a vague idea, like "I'm gonna go for a heavy, jarring, aggressive start". It almost immediately conjurs up a simple riff idea, about as long as, say, the Enter Sandman chorus riff. The riff, bass, keys and drums all pop into mind, and I get busy programming and recording. I play about with it and some variations spring up, and I get a decent structure for this riff and section.

By this point I'm starting to build up a bit of momentum, and I'm thinking of how the next section, sometimes next two sections, will go. Again, all the instruments seem to be presenting themselves to me, and it seems like all I have to do is decipher and transcribe.

When these moments strike (sadly, they're not frequent enough these days), I can stay up all night, just spawning section after section, until I've got an entire song down. It actually feels impossible to stop, like it's just a torrent I have to get out.

When this has happened, I've written my best stuff. It hasn't happened too often, though. It's a shame, 'cause not only do I enjoy it, but I'd also like to get a little more insight into it.

In those moments, it feels almost like I'm hearing a pre-recorded section. But it's strained. It's like I'm somehow mentally (or....oooh err, psychically) just about tuning in some sort of radio of ideas. I can't hear it with as much clarity as I'd like, but it doesn't stop me feeling like I'm 'hearing' a complete section, full of detail. The process of deciphering these ideas doesn't really feel like deciphering, and usually doesn't take long. They're not encoded or somehow obfuscated. But it has felt like there's some sort of layer of confusion to be got through, still. It's never or very rarely been 100% effortless.

Now obviously I don't know how the mind properly works. I'm not Steven Pinker. But I'm not sure I'm willing to believe that some sort of complete idea is in my head, waiting to be transcribed through a muffled speaker. I think it's more likely the detail and resolution that it feels like I'm transcribing isn't actually 'there'. I'm actually creating the specifics of it as I start to get it out.

This bit is difficult to describe (I guess it's almost getting into less of a musical area and more of a neuroscience/study of consciousness area). The best analogy I can think of is (and I apologise for how out there this is, it's the best I can do right now), it's like someone pushing some clay through a cookie cutter. The cookie cutter is comparable to the idea I can 'hear'. What's coming out of the cookie cutter has the broad shape that the end result will have. Like if it was, say, the shape of a giraffe. A giraffe is a giraffe. Once it's got the long neck, the head and legs, well, it's a giraffe. But as it's coming through, they're somehow able to add on the details, pick where the spots will go, sculpt the hair down its neck, the tail, etc. This part is like me deciphering the idea, getting it out into the real world.

Well, I'll leave it there because it's getting a little bit vague. But what's your take on this? Have you had a similar experience? Is it a state you're able to get into often? What are your thoughts on what's going on?

I should add, I'm a complete atheist, monist (physicalist) and positivist/empiricst. I'm not attributing any of this to any sort of supernatural phenomena, even if I've dipped into that sort of talk in places.
 

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NICE BLACKMACHINE YO
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Joking aside, when I get super duper creative, I end up hating what I write as I play it in my head afterwards. I write best when I have little sections, and then I play them out with the rest of the band, or other musicians, and then I often have to structure textures differently, and I end up liking it more.

I hate the way I play, and the way I write. :lol: But I hate how a lot of other people people write too...I'm a fickle bastard. :lol:
 

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I read most of that, and I definitely get those moments. I know that through EEG scans they've found that a musician who is improvising, an engineer who is mixing, and a monk in deep meditation all show the same brain wave patterns.
 

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Reverend Secret Flower
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Joking aside, when I get super duper creative, I end up hating what I write as I play it in my head afterwards. I write best when I have little sections, and then I play them out with the rest of the band, or other musicians, and then I often have to structure textures differently, and I end up liking it more.

I hate the way I play, and the way I write. :lol: But I hate how a lot of other people people write too...I'm a fickle bastard. :lol:
this sounds like me.

I HATE predictability and simplicity of course i know what and how i'm gonna play something i wrote so its predictable and shitty to me. But once i add some other layers to it, i can start to appreicate it a bit more. but ultimatly, i feel like i need another person(that doesnt exist in reality for me:lol:) to push me in directions that i never would have gone by myself.

I find i love the vast majority of what i write. But its not in the few days i'm working on it. Its usually when i dig it up after a few weeks/months. Then i realize i had something(once how to play it isnt in my mind and i'm focusing on the music and not the technicality)
 

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I totally get that all the time. :agreed: The first time I got that was with writing and I still get this with writing all the time. I remember times back in college where I would want to just edit some part of a story I was writing, but then would get so many ideas where I knew exactly what would happen next, how the dialogue should go, how something should be described, how the scenes should fit together, and the next thing I knew, it was 5:00am and I had written over 20 pages and didn't want to stop. :lol:

I get that with music too. I remember this one song where I was just messing around with a simple riff that I never intended to make into one of my band's songs, and I just threw down some simple drums and recorded the riff on top of it. But after hearing that, I started hearing other guitars that would go with that riff, so I recorded two more tracks. This made me re-edit the drums. Then I listened again and could hear atmospheric lead lines in my head. So I wrote those and recorded them. Then I listened again and was like "Wow, this kind of bass would work perfectly. Especially if I soloed it write after the lead goes up to the top of the fretboard.

I hadn't even intended to write a song. I just wanted to record one simple riff, but it ended up turning into a six minute long song with tons of layers of guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. I never ended up using it for my band because we didn't have enough musicians to play all the different parts (the intro had six different guitars. Sure some of them were doubled guitar parts, but it boiled down to 3-4 distinct different guitar parts), but that's one of those times where everything went perfectly. Another time I can remember just laying down an acoustic progression I liked, but it turned into me adding electric guitars, bass, drums, lyrics and vocals, two solos, and within the span on 6-7 hours, I had written a five minute long song from beginning to end.

It definitely happens, but you can never tell when it will happen. :lol:
 

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Is Actually Recording
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I work that way too, man, and I suspect a lot o us do. The weird thig for me is oftentimes it happens without a guitar.

The chorus to my old tune "alien love child" I wrote walking up to the front steps to my dorm after lunch in college one day. The verse was done, and I broke not knowing we're to go from there. Suddenly, the song was there in my head, and I think I picked up a guitar and figured it out on my first attempt hen I got to my room.

The chorus to another song I'm working on for my new album was very similar - I was in India, a guitar nowhere in sight, and suddenly this melody just came to me. It didn't quite work for the chords as I'd demoed them, so I just changed the chords.

Sometimes a melody is something that you really have to work on to make it come together, but a lot of the times it just happens. Hell, another old song I'm revisiting for my album, this very structured sounding melody line was something I improvised while writing the song. Ditto with another song from the new album - the riffing and verse/prechorus melody came together quickly, but it took me forever to find a chorus melody, and when I finally did it was when I'd stopped tracking and was just jamming along with the changes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I started hearing other guitars that would go with that riff, so I recorded two more tracks. This made me re-edit the drums. Then I listened again and could hear atmospheric lead lines in my head. So I wrote those and recorded them. Then I listened again and was like "Wow, this kind of bass would work perfectly. Especially if I soloed it write after the lead goes up to the top of the fretboard.
It's that bit I mean. When you say you could hear it in your head. What is going on there? And do you not get it with entire orchestrations at a time? Sometimes at night, usually after I've been in bed for 10-15 minutes and there's no way I'm getting out again, I get struck with some insane ideas, and I can hear everything; an awesome solo on top of a really cool riff. I keep meaning to try to get up and work on it, but it's always been when I have to get up early.

But this 'hearing it in my head' thing is what interests me. I don't get this sort of thing in any other sphere of life (maybe taking photos or for videos a little, but not the same degree), but it's interesting that you say you get it with literary writing, too.
 

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For music, there are two different ways I get it. One is the way you mentioned where I will hear an entire orchestration from the beginning with all the different guitar parts, bass parts, drums, and so on all together at once. The other one is where I hear just one guitar part, bass part, drum part, but after I make that, I then hear more parts layered on top of that, and after I record that, I then hear more parts layered on top of that.

When I really get in the right place with literary writing, everything just comes all at once and there's no stopping to think "Hm... what happens next?" or "Should I really use this?" It's more like everything is fitting together perfectly.

But this doesn't happen all the time. :lol: And I don't think there's any way to force it to happen.
 

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Had that moment where the riffs just pour out today and the main riff was one of the best riffs I've come up with in a long time, so I'm happy. :D
 

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Slow Money
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I'm very aware of that moment, and I get it all the fucking time, actually. Unfortunately, my playing is not nearly up to snuff with what I feel whirling around in the old skullbox, so I can't just learn the pieces, and my theory is not up to snuff either, so I really can't write them down either. I'm fair sure I've lost albums worth of material to this problem :lol:...

:/
 

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^ Once you've found the notes of the melody/riff floating around in your head just video (phone camera does the trick as it's usually always on you) yourself doing the riff at half the speed with the camera focused on your left hand. I can't tell you how much this has helped me to just get the riffs recorded, and then be able to quickly keep the creative flow going and come up with new riffs. Do the notation and layering after you've got your ideas down. :yesway:
 

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This happened in my band actually. When me and the other guitarist were coming up with stuff, we just couldn't get anywhere for a while (kind of trying to peg into a style that neither of us either loved or could get into). Once that was removed, we took another crack, and all of a sudden these half riff ideas turned into full songs and in the space of about 2 months we had 8 complete tracks.

I'm the same way in that I can hear the entire thing in my head before I even write it, including drum parts, vocals, and anything else special to go with it. The good thing is because a lot of the writing happens in Guitar Pro, I can get that down and hear it.

I tend to find I am great at taking an idea that exists (say the other guitarist has a riff or two), moulding them a little, and then ending up with half a track in no time. I can just hear where it is supposed to go and keep going. However coming up with something from scratch is difficult. I almost need a limit in a sense (this style, start with this riff and work up, this time signature etc) otherwise I produce nothing. I think that comes from the fact that there's so much that could be in the place of silence that it's difficult to know where to start.

I have had a few tracks recently that I've started at about 7pm at night writing them, and had them recorded them by midnight. None of these were simple or dumbed down, in fact some of the riffs are the most complex I've ever written. When it comes, it comes (giggedy).
 
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