Stuck! [plus link to what I've done so far]

Hi All,

Two Saturday’s ago I suddenly got the urge to write something and started on a new Cubase project called ‘Transparent’.

It can be heard here:

I think it’s off to a good start, but once again I seem to have run out of ideas.

It always seems to happen that way. I get an idea. Record it or write it in midi, get to around 1 mins worth of material, then get completely stuck!

What do you guys do in this situation?

Do you try to force it? Or wait until some more inspiration hits? I’m a little afraid of the latter approach as I might never get around to finishing it.

Do you have some guide lines in terms of structure that you tend to follow?

Also I have noticed that the above’s intro seems wrong. Like I need more time to establish the key in the listener’s ear? Is this a valid thing? And if so how does one go about doing this?

Sorry for the 101 questions, but I don’t want to see another promising start end prematurely.


So what you’ve got there is an intro…now you need a song (or instrumental) to finish it off, songwriting isn’t easy, if you can’t hear anything in your head to go over the arp that you have or anything it might lead onto then your in trouble…welcome to the club, it’s tough for all of us!!!

apologies to those people who find songwriting real easy…best to you and just keep at it…Kevin

What is your current understanding/experience of theory and orchestration? How long have you been playing an instrument and to what level/grade?

Hi Kevin,

That’s exactly the situation I’m in. No real ideas to take it forward. :confused:

From the sounds of what your saying though, that’s pretty normal - just got to keep plugging at it! :slight_smile:


Hi Jonathan,

I have picked up a few things about music theory, like how scales are constructed from their intervals, some progressions and how to assemble some chords - especially triads. But other than that I don’t really have a clue. Most of the stuff I have written has been more by luck than design.

In terms of instruments, I can just about play the guitar, but alas that’s it.

I have always been fascinated with Orchestras - though I have never seen one in real life (that is on my to do list). One of my favourites to listen to is Beethoven’s 9th - the 1st movement. There is something very magical the way it starts from almost nothing then works its way into a titanic struggle!

Presumably by orchestration you mean which instruments to use and when?

Sorry about my noobness :slight_smile:


I’m having the same problem all the time, but what I’ve found after countless of half completed projects is how important it is to be in the right mindset when you are composing/producing music. If you find some technique like listening to your favorite music, meditating or anything that makes you passionate and all the musical ideas flow freely in your head you will certainly find it easier to know what you want with your track.
Also what has improved my workflow has been being more spontaneous. Whenever I have thought too much “should I do this or that” the track has never got ready. So I just do things what feels right and try things out, throw away what I don’t like and keep what I want in my track (with some amount of planning of course). I guess it’s mostly about finding the balance between planning the music and just going with the flow and your problem is that you are planning too much.

Hope this helps, good luck!

You are off to a good start!

Just a thought…

this is very mechanical…unbolt a song, take it apart Take and listen to your fav, Beethoven’s 9th , listen to what he is doing and take notes;

  1. how many times is the melodic phrase repeated, what new thing is introduced each time (loudness, instruments, new notes, less notes, timing, etc. how many measures ie. 1234,1234,1234)
  2. Chorus;( or the new different type of music inserted into the piece) take notes; what’s going on, does it repeat, instruments, tempo, loudness, etc. how many measures
  3. 2nd melody, what’s going on here?

Song Structure: A,B,C,B,A,A or what ever.
(A=primary melody, B=Chorus, C= 2nd melody, etc.)

There are common structures that tend to make music comfortable to listeners by meeting their subconscious expectations…If you unravel Beethoven’s 9th this way, you will have a greater understanding of music. Then apply the lessons to your music. Beethoven was a genius, his music was simple and accessible by all, yet so complex, it is hard to imagine how he felt and put together all the nuances to make such great music.

Hope this helps in some way.

That does help Erik. After reading what you have written, I think I have been guilty of jumping back in with the wrong mindset. Too many real-life distractions vying for attention. I think before I start I’m going to need to listen to some sort of music to get in the mindset. That and make sure that time isn’t an issue. Hopefully that will sort things out!


These are good tips John. It had occurred to me to take notes whilst listening to Beethoven, but more often than not I get carried away by the music! I think some discipline is required here!

As for song structure this is definitely something I have never really considered. I tend to go with the flow. But when the flow stops that’s when I end up in trouble.

I like the idea of drawing out a song structure first, it kind of provides a framework and guidance as to what one should be striving for next, rather than doing things completely ad-hoc.

I have a lot of listening and learning to do, to try and determine what the common structures are and try to write one for this current piece.

Again, Thanks for the great advice.

Kinda gonna reinforce the thing about structure. Forget orchestrating anything until at the very least you have a solid A and B section (verse/chorus.) Right now you only have an A section. Remove all other instruments except piano or guitar (whichever you’re composing on) and then come up with a B section. You can then at least alternate between the two sections experimenting with different orchestrations on each repeat such as an entire A section with pizz. strings and woodwinds playing the melody for example.