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Stuck in a Musical Form?

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HalcyonicFalconX
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Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 03:32 AM Reply

In celebration of Purgy's permission for us to make music appreciation and discussion threads... here's one!

I've been taking a look back at my own music and analyzing it, and it has occurred to me that I commonly use the same musical form for many of my songs. Notably Ternary form. Half of the time, I'm consciously making a decision to use that specific form, but the other half of the time it just kind of happens.

Has anyone else found this happening with their music too? And which form do you use the most?

Discuss! :D

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 04:06 AM Reply

At 4/16/13 03:32 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote: In celebration of Purgy's permission for us to make music appreciation and discussion threads... here's one!

Awesome, first reply

Has anyone else found this happening with their music too? And which form do you use the most?

Discuss! :D

Uhh. ABAB is cool, but I go a bit weird with it. My last song was ABCDE. Just non stop progression :D. I really don't know much about musiks.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 04:24 AM Reply

Hey Halconic,

I use ternary form occasionally, and realistically there is nothing wrong with that. The form is appealing to a wide array of listeners, but there are definitely a few ways which we can consciously avoid it.

Basic example:Lets say that the song starts with a dark theme. (minor chords, not too dark) You might consider modifying one section to be congruent with a diminished vibe (place the focus on diminished octave shifts so that you can get creative with the voicing of the other chords you are using in this section), gravitate back to the "I" but sneak it in so it doesn't appear cliche. At this point we have three distinct sections instead of two and the sections can't be confused with ternary form.

It is so difficult to get past being stuck in a particular musical form because your own ear gets used to the specific mood that you create in the songs you are writing. Step back from the music you are writing for a minute and don't be afraid of a second opinion even if that opinion comes from an unexperienced musician.

With every genre I write, I try to experiment with a different form. In my older electronic music, I utilized Rondo Form, which at the time was kind of unique and unheard of because the general concencus was that techno was repetitive and boring. When I write, I don't consciously decide which form I'm going to write in because I feel like that will limit where I can go with the music. The form that the piece takes on will reveal itself to me when it's done.

I could go on. I love this thread already <3 and I can't wait to read what the other forum members have to say on this topic.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 04:25 AM Reply

They say that the most common commercially-produced musical form is A-B-A-B-C-A-B-B (with A being verses, B being choruses and C being the bridge). Buildup levels would increase up to C, and then wind down for the next A and then they'd be climactic in the next B. If this is the structure every producer uses the most, then that's what I call being stuck in a musical form...

That having been said, one of my all-time favourite songs has this structure.

Now I don't know if I actually do get stuck in a musical form, because half the time I don't know what form I use. O_O


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 04:31 AM Reply

Good topic.
It's funny but the way I write depends on what I'm writing for.
Heavy metal will have a structure like you mentioned (although not always, some of my metal has been pretty unique in that sense). If I'm writing for a game I tend to avoid repetition at all costs unless it really needs it, if I'm writing a theme for the game or a character for example. If I do repeat something it's never exactly the same, I'll try to do a "reprise" (repeat but with different instruments/arrangements or with emphasis on a different element of the composition).

Have you tried writing one genre as if it were another? That always has interesting consequences from structure to arrangement. Take a piece of classical and make it into electronica, take electronica and make it into metal. Good fun.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 04:50 AM Reply

At 4/16/13 04:25 AM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: Now I don't know if I actually do get stuck in a musical form, because half the time I don't know what form I use. O_O

Pretty much.
If I have to put it in a way, most (if not all) of my songs are A-B-C-C. Or something similar to that.
(A being the intro, B being the buildup, C being the verse/chorus thing with little to no difference in the melody in all 3)

HalcyonicFalconX
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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:00 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 04:24 AM, frootza wrote: Basic example:Lets say that the song starts with a dark theme. (minor chords, not too dark) You might consider modifying one section to be congruent with a diminished vibe (place the focus on diminished octave shifts so that you can get creative with the voicing of the other chords you are using in this section), gravitate back to the "I" but sneak it in so it doesn't appear cliche. At this point we have three distinct sections instead of two and the sections can't be confused with ternary form.

Actually my favorite way to break out of it is taking the same melodic line and completely reharmonizing it with different chords entirely. :D But what you mentioned definitely works, I believe that's basically the textbook method.

It is so difficult to get past being stuck in a particular musical form because your own ear gets used to the specific mood that you create in the songs you are writing. Step back from the music you are writing for a minute and don't be afraid of a second opinion even if that opinion comes from an unexperienced musician.

Yep, those who are Skype buddies with me will know that I will ask them for feedback on songs. ^___^ I agree with you wholeheartedly on that, and personally I also think that every musician should take into account some of the opinion of the masses.

With every genre I write, I try to experiment with a different form. In my older electronic music, I utilized Rondo Form, which at the time was kind of unique and unheard of because the general concencus was that techno was repetitive and boring.

That's quite fun, although it does sometimes result in songs that don't fit the new genre and instruments trying to do what's impossible for them. Although I suppose that could be managed as long as you take those into account or something.

Although in terms of genre, I already mix genres so much that I don't know what to categorize most of my music anymore. xD

When I write, I don't consciously decide which form I'm going to write in because I feel like that will limit where I can go with the music. The form that the piece takes on will reveal itself to me when it's done.

What if that form is always the same form? xD

I could go on. I love this thread already <3 and I can't wait to read what the other forum members have to say on this topic.

Thanks for the discussion! :D

HalcyonicFalconX
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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:02 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 04:25 AM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: They say that the most common commercially-produced musical form is A-B-A-B-C-A-B-B (with A being verses, B being choruses and C being the bridge). Buildup levels would increase up to C, and then wind down for the next A and then they'd be climactic in the next B. If this is the structure every producer uses the most, then that's what I call being stuck in a musical form...

It's the commercially optimal form. :P I suppose it's probably because you can get that certain length of a song without boring people too much, although I don't know why they keep only that form. They could very well do A-B-A-C-A-B-A and still repeat that main melodic motif over and over enough to get it stuck in the consumer's head. *shrug*

Now I don't know if I actually do get stuck in a musical form, because half the time I don't know what form I use. O_O

Time to analyze your songs! :P

HalcyonicFalconX
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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:03 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 04:31 AM, MetalRenard wrote: Have you tried writing one genre as if it were another? That always has interesting consequences from structure to arrangement. Take a piece of classical and make it into electronica, take electronica and make it into metal. Good fun.

Fun indeed, but I mix genres a bunch already. xD

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:17 PM Reply

stop listening to music for a week, then make a song like it was your first one, with no influences or whatever


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:28 PM Reply

Most of the times I approach making music as if I were writing a story. You don't write the same thing twice in one page and another. So I generally avoid repetition and have the song flow like a story, sometimes making reference to earlier melodies among other things in new sections. Sometimes I do repeat sections, such as having an intro,a pre-verse, a verse, a bridge and the same verse again for example, because it's the core of the song, however I do not repeat it again, maybe make reference to the melody in a new section as I've said before. I find excessive repetition to be very boring and predictable.

As someone said before, it also depends on what kind of music you are writing and for what purpose. If you are writing music say, for an animation, and the author asks you to write a piece that loops then repetition is gonna be inevitable.

HalcyonicFalconX
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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:31 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 12:28 PM, Braiton wrote: Most of the times I approach making music as if I were writing a story. You don't write the same thing twice in one page and another. So I generally avoid repetition and have the song flow like a story, sometimes making reference to earlier melodies among other things in new sections. Sometimes I do repeat sections, such as having an intro,a pre-verse, a verse, a bridge and the same verse again for example, because it's the core of the song, however I do not repeat it again, maybe make reference to the melody in a new section as I've said before. I find excessive repetition to be very boring and predictable.

I've actually done that twice before and I really do enjoy doing it. Unfortunately I haven't had the time to work on music for myself lately...

As someone said before, it also depends on what kind of music you are writing and for what purpose. If you are writing music say, for an animation, and the author asks you to write a piece that loops then repetition is gonna be inevitable.

Also probably why I found a lot of my recent songs to have similar structure, seeing as the majority of what I've made in the last year and half was entirely for EBF IV. xD

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:32 PM Reply

Constantly returning to a musical form that you're comfortable with is something I think a majority of musicians do regularly. There's nothing wrong with this in my opinion, because it allows you to master a particular form, grow as an artist, etc, etc.

However, on the other hand, using the same form over and over again can hamper the creative process, and can also have the opposite result in terms of growth. I think it's important to explore different musical formulas, structures, and arrangements from time to time, even if it's just for fun...but there's nothing wrong with sticking to what works either! :)


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frootza
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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 12:38 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 12:00 PM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote:
At 4/16/13 04:24 AM, frootza wrote:
Actually my favorite way to break out of it is taking the same melodic line and completely reharmonizing it with different chords entirely. :D But what you mentioned definitely works, I believe that's basically the textbook method.

I like doing that too! Reintroducing the same melody over different backgrounds. Sometimes I feel like this is cheating, because if I find a melody that sounds good but is only 8 bars, I feel like I should be working harder on expanding it.


Yep, those who are Skype buddies with me will know that I will ask them for feedback on songs. ^___^ I agree with you wholeheartedly on that, and personally I also think that every musician should take into account some of the opinion of the masses.

Cool! You should Skype me sometime. I'll shoot you a PM.

That's quite fun, although it does sometimes result in songs that don't fit the new genre and instruments trying to do what's impossible for them. Although I suppose that could be managed as long as you take those into account or something.

Although in terms of genre, I already mix genres so much that I don't know what to categorize most of my music anymore. xD

That is good. I've always hated having to put music into a box which is why I was a fan of the "Progressive" genre for a while. Lots of artists are trying to move past writing music that is stuck to one genre label, but the industry needs to sell to different demographics.


What if that form is always the same form? xD

Start writing your songs in reverse! How do you do most of your writing? Sequenced, piano, humming, sheet music? I do use all three, but I usually compose everything in my head.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 01:01 PM Reply

My music is very methodical and structured. I very often have an intro that leads to the main melody that dies down into a softer section that then builds back to the main melody eventually, and then I end the song. It just works so well as a structure in my opinion. I do try and vary though, and obviously this is the kind of structure that only truly works well for longer songs, so when I have to make shorter ones I'm a bit more creative with the structure.

And yeah, always get second opinions from other people, even if they're not musicians. I take into account the feedback I get from musicians more, of course, but I still value the feedback I get from regular listeners. One of my friends happens to be very passionate about music and has a great ear, even if he's not a musician. He has also listened to a lot of my tracks and will be able to pinpoint when I'm using elements and structure from previous songs of mine.

The key is to get lots of opinions, not just one other opinion. Once you start seeing similarities in the criticism even if it's from different people, then you know that there's certainly something to consider in what they're saying. Case in point, I send my works in progress to like 10 people I have on Skype. The more I talk to someone on Skype, the more music I'll send him/her for feedback. So if you don't like my music you should probably try to avoid talking to me :3.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 01:25 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 01:01 PM, Step wrote: And yeah, always get second opinions from other people, even if they're not musicians.

The key is to get lots of opinions, not just one other opinion. Once you start seeing similarities in the criticism even if it's from different people, then you know that there's certainly something to consider in what they're saying.

Great advice Step...I should really follow it. I blindly post songs without ever consulting anyone beforehand. Kind of embarrassing to admit that.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 01:28 PM Reply

My songs will fairly randomly return to previous ideas after introducing alternative ones, and I occasionally end on a completely different ending, so my song structure is predictable, but will vary between A B A, A B C A, A B A C, A B C A D, A B C B A, A B C B A D, etc. Thus, the way I build my songs is consistent, but ends up resulting in a different overall song structure most of the time anyway. The easiest way to adjust your song form is to simply include a third alternative melody instead of just a secondary one to get A B C A. You can also come up with a specific ending idea like I did here to get A B A C.

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 01:31 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 01:01 PM, Step wrote: My music is very methodical and structured. I very often have an intro that leads to the main melody that dies down into a softer section that then builds back to the main melody eventually, and then I end the song. It just works so well as a structure in my opinion. I do try and vary though, and obviously this is the kind of structure that only truly works well for longer songs, so when I have to make shorter ones I'm a bit more creative with the structure.

Oddly enough I find it easier to use different structures for longer songs, and shorter songs I'm usually stuck with really simplistic structures.

The key is to get lots of opinions, not just one other opinion. Once you start seeing similarities in the criticism even if it's from different people, then you know that there's certainly something to consider in what they're saying. Case in point, I send my works in progress to like 10 people I have on Skype. The more I talk to someone on Skype, the more music I'll send him/her for feedback. So if you don't like my music you should probably try to avoid talking to me :3.

So if we want to hear A LOT of your music, you're saying we should add you on Skype? :3

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 01:56 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 01:28 PM, Blackhole12 wrote: The easiest way to adjust your song form is to simply include a third alternative melody instead of just a secondary one to get A B C A. You can also come up with a specific ending idea like I did here to get A B A C.

I think all electronic music follows this form. Generic but simple.

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 04:46 PM Reply

Well sure yeah, I tend to do intro, kinda main part, calm part, main part, very long calm part, main part, outro (which I suppose would be ABCBCBA? Nice and symmetric I guess...)

It's fun to change things up... having a super short intro or none at all (just going choo choo main part from the start motherfucker) can sound great for example.

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 16th, 2013 @ 08:59 PM Reply

I really adore programmatic music where I can just ramble for extensive stretches of time. :D

Theme and Variations is definitely my favorite 'form'. I normally do an A1-A2-B-A3 sort of setup where A1 is an introduction and A2 and A3 are variations, and B is a very contrasting section (in a loud violent song, a quiet part, like the eye of the storm). I find many of my main menu pieces for games are like this. It really creates a good break for the listener so his/her ear doesn't get worn out from too much noise.

I definitely never think about forms in my music... Normally I start and end a piece/movement on the same chord or at least section, yet I often have exceptions to this. For example, The Kingdom, Movement 1 is A B A B B, movement 2 is A B C D... so it varies broadly.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 17th, 2013 @ 12:01 AM Reply

I suppose something like A-B-C-B?

I haven't really paid attention to it :[ I sort of just make whatever comes to mind... generally I run out of pure inspiration about halfway, so I find myself trying for some sort of pattern.
Typically, I prefer making music that just moves along, unlike a regular song. A-B-C-D-E, etc. I find those more fun to make- although tiring- since each segment is different from the previous, and there are no repeating sections. Probably my best example of this is the song in my sig (---> "that one"), still, I find those increasingly difficult to make recently.
But to answer the title question of this thread, no, I don't think so.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 17th, 2013 @ 03:15 AM Reply

I usually aim for ABAC or ABCB.
Going ABCDE really gives up all the hooks imo, which I find detrimental if trying (and shouldn't you always try) to create a recognizable and catchy song
Regardless of genre

I see you progressive hippies rising your ugly heads on this statement! Stay down, god damnit!

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 17th, 2013 @ 09:40 AM Reply

At 4/17/13 03:15 AM, NikeTheSword wrote: Going ABCDE really gives up all the hooks imo, which I find detrimental if trying (and shouldn't you always try) to create a recognizable and catchy song

Yeah I don't always aim for that, not really creating music that could potentially have lyrics or have repeating parts for the sake of sounding catchy.. not to say I make it boring :P Not even I want to listen to boring stuff, why would I waste time creating it then? I just make whatever comes to mind, and if it ends up having repeating parts, then so be it, you know? Depends on why you make music and how you plan to use it, I suppose

I kind of like imagining scenes/various scenarios in my head and then making music to go along with it, just for fun. For me, ABCDE isn't always the way to go, obviously, but I think it's more than possible to be done right.

I looked back and it does appear I give ABCB a little too much love >.<

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 17th, 2013 @ 10:41 AM Reply

I actually just tried to fix this problem for myself by trying a new form for the NGAP 10th Anniversary contest. I'm trying a rondo ABCAB form with key modulations. What i've found is that trying to write the same melody/progressions in new keys opens up a lot of new possibilities, and I'm really enjoying working with the form. If you want to push yourself a bit, it's fun to try!

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 17th, 2013 @ 05:00 PM Reply

I'm really, really bad for this. Pretty much every song I do ends up in the same format... I dunno what the name of said format is... But I pretty much always do something along the lines of A-B-A-C-B-A.

I've been trying to break this habit... with little success.


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 18th, 2013 @ 05:06 AM Reply

At 4/17/13 09:40 AM, alternativesolution wrote:
At 4/17/13 03:15 AM, NikeTheSword wrote: Going ABCDE really gives up all the hooks imo, which I find detrimental if trying (and shouldn't you always try) to create a recognizable and catchy song
I kind of like imagining scenes/various scenarios in my head and then making music to go along with it, just for fun. For me, ABCDE isn't always the way to go, obviously, but I think it's more than possible to be done right.

Absolutely, but still I insist that ABCDE is reserved for exactly making it for a certain scene or plotprogression or somesuch. ABCDE track alone won't have that "remeber this?"-factor. Still, I'm talking from VGM P.O.V.
Absolutely no idea how progressive fans remember their favorite songs for example? :)

Also, looking at most of the posts here comes to mind that we're all Form-junkies and we can't get rid of that habit O_o

BUT ABCB is my favorite noooooo don't take it away from meee nooo I need itz!!!

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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 18th, 2013 @ 10:15 AM Reply

At 4/18/13 05:06 AM, NikeTheSword wrote: Absolutely, but still I insist that ABCDE is reserved for exactly making it for a certain scene or plotprogression or somesuch.

Exactly! That's the only thing I really reserve it for... :P Other than just fooling around and having something decent come out of it.

Also, looking at most of the posts here comes to mind that we're all Form-junkies and we can't get rid of that habit O_o
BUT ABCB is my favorite noooooo don't take it away from meee nooo I need itz!!!

i guess it's time we break out of our form :|
On to a new path~!


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Response to Stuck in a Musical Form? Apr. 18th, 2013 @ 07:41 PM Reply

At 4/16/13 04:25 AM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: Now I don't know if I actually do get stuck in a musical form, because half the time I don't know what form I use. O_O

This is pretty much how i feel too. I just do what I think sounds the least boring. Usually I start with an awesome progression, and honestly, I could just play over it forever. i usually am forced to change it up to make it listenable to other people besides myself.