Writing tricks & exercises for bands

Sometimes, the thing a group of people need to spark their creativity is to create some artificial limitations. When the possibilities are limitless, it can leave you not knowing where to begin, but by creating these little rules, it can help milk the creative juices of those in the room.

What things can you think of, or have tried yourself? Share them in this thread!

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Try building a jam around two chords. By limiting the number of notes, it forces everyone to focus more on varying up the rhythms.

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No blues scales!

Force people to get out of those lazy sounds by vetoing any blues scales!

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Only two instruments at a time!

Use eye contact to communicate to work out where one begins and one ends. When not playing, take in what’s happening with the others around you

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Swap instruments!

Obvious one here, try using a different instrument, see what sounds you come up with.

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Sometimes the hardest thing is to find a spur for a lyric. There are random phrase generators on this very internet that can give you things to work with, just keep hitting generate on them until you find something that piques something in your brain.

Or just hit generate over and over again until you have three minutes worth of words, then James Dean Bradfield them into a melody.

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Play as quietly as possible whilst still being audible.

Make the drummer and bass player agree on patterns and stick to them.

Bass and drums only at same time.

Bass and drums never at same time (can).

No instruments at same time.

All instruments only to play on drum hits

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I think David Byrne runs this random phrase generator:


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Rock it, everyone. I know you will

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whatever you believe you need, it will always be the flat 5th

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Suck each others cocks

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Can’t think of anything to sing about? Try writing down you feeling about food, or recipes of just talk about nice cuisines, then rearrange what you’ve written in iambic pentameter.

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Knew I should have studied Latin

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An old band I was in would set at 2 minute timer and we would jam for that time and do phone recordings of it, we would do about 7 or 8 of these in a writing practice. As you knew you were limited you generally tried to make it snappy rather than let something build like you would with typical jams, and obvs if something was good you could work on that particular passage separately.

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Get a DJ in to take your sound to the Mathew’s Bridge

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