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While I don't often fire up FLStudio when I do I find myself hitting the same problem time after time; I'll come up with a small 4 or 8 bar riff I'm happy with and then somewhat hit a wall when I find out I can't seem to figure out how to progress things.

So I was wondering how you guys out there do it?

Do you fire up a program and just mess about until you hit something and then run with it?
Do you go in with a tune/riff already in mind and an idea of where you want to go?

Or is it, like most things, just a matter of practise; playing around, seeing what works, and over time getting a feel for how you can combine things, what works well and how to progress?

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For me, it is probably a combination of all the things you have mentioned.

Forcing myself to be creative hardly ever works and I hit the same concrete wall like you do.

But the best ideas usually hit me when I'm not near the studio at all - I try to compose as much of the music as possible in my head so I can just sort of "pour it out" when I get to the studio.
This isn't completely involuntary, though. When I'm doing music for a project, I spend much time just thinking about it and trying out different ideas with my "inner ears". That's why you'll hardly ever see me leave the house with headphones on, I'm listening to my own radio. :)
When I think I've got something good, I put it on loop in my head until I can put it down somehow, if I fear I could forget it. I carry a mobile recorder with me for that purpose.

Of course, this doesn't always work. But it's the most fun way of working for me because when I actually sit in front of my screen'n'speakers, all I have to do is assemble the music that's already there!

Also, this probably [i]wouldn't[/i] work if I hadn't done (and still do) dozens, probably hundreds, of "4 or 8 bar riff" songs where I've experimented with sounds, rhythms, harmonies and melodies.
You have to know your tools or you'll be slowed down when you strike oil with a great idea.

Moritz Edited by Moritz P.G. Katz

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I'm more of a speed writer. I write for melody, structure, and mood.

I often do what you kind of described. I write a short part, a 4 bar piece, 8 bar. I start with a simple idea and I build upon it. I build solely on that section until it's 50 tracks and it's super epic. Now what? Well, I start deconstructing it. I start taking out elements and spreading it around. Maybe the piano part will serve as an intro. Maybe the string part will serve as a break. But I almost always start writing this way. And sometimes your stuff just plain sucks. Well, ditch it and move on, we all have bad days. I find that if I sit there on one idea complaining of "writers block" I'll never get anywhere.

I was in the middle of a project a few weeks ago, and I felt like I was writing the same thing over and over. This was for a film, by the way. I was just completely stuck on a part. Frustrated, I just moved onto a different cue. That one actually worked. The next day, the cue that caused me trouble just came to me. Everyone wants to think that composers just magically write music that all sounds amazing, but MAN it is very, very difficult to be creative all the time.

Try getting out of your comfort zone, use different plugins, approach it different. Don't write a 4 bar piece, write an odd time signature with focus on melody.. I find that I do things a certain way all the time. Which works for me 80% of the time. But when I get stuck. I have to take a step back and readjust.

There are many ways to improve upon your skills, and it comes slowly with time! This is just me, everyone is different :)

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