Question: What is a good way to expand on a song idea I have created? After I create a riff or a chord progression, where do I go from there?

Tom Hess's Answer: There are MANY approaches you can use to expand upon a song idea, guitar riff or chord progression. Here is just ONE approach:

Create 5-10 variations of your original song idea by focusing on changing the way you use different musical elements. For example, take the original idea, keep all the notes (or chords) the same and improvise several completely different rhythms with it. This will leave you with many new variations that are similar enough to the original idea to feel “connected”, but not too similar to where it sounds boring to the listener. Apply this same process to the other musical elements (such as harmony, dynamics or texture) and you will put together many new song ideas to work with.

Read my songwriting ideas article series to learn many more approaches for expanding upon a musical idea.


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