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What inspires or motivates you to play your guitar or write music?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by 4pickupguy, Sep 9, 2020.

What inspires or motivates you to play your guitar or write music most?

  1. Life events / circumstances?

    59 vote(s)
  2. New artist/album discovery?

    29 vote(s)
  3. A new guitar, amp or pedal (new sound)?

    31 vote(s)
  4. New musical advancement in technique or theory?

    35 vote(s)
  5. An upcoming gig or new band tune?

    26 vote(s)
  6. A concert or club performance by somebody?

    13 vote(s)
  7. Something you read on a guitar forum?

    6 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Saxonbowman

    Saxonbowman Tele-Meister

    Jul 11, 2019
    I play in the hope I might get better.

    Realistically, I spend time going down YouTube rabbit holes. I might hear a composition or tone that gets me inspired to try something new. Gear sometimes follows that when I’m trying to play some music I’ve found. I don’t write tunes but I’m trying to learn to improvise.
    timbgtr and 4pickupguy like this.
  2. Beachbum

    Beachbum Friend of Leo's

    Mar 11, 2009
    Sand Land
    If you had asked me 50 years ago I'm sure I would have told you that it was all of those things but today I'm gonna have say that there's a jukebox playing in my head and it's just what I've always done and always will do.
    Hey_you, twangdude, Aristeas and 3 others like this.
  3. thebowl

    thebowl Tele-Meister

    May 19, 2014
    New Jersey
    I don’t have the slightest idea.
    Aristeas, Marc Morfei and 4pickupguy like this.
  4. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    I don't really need external motivation but I need focus. That comes from working on new material. Working in a new style is always motivating. I'd been playing mostly country. I found a TDPRI post about blues in the Dorian mode. I started working on a composition to learn the mode. After I learned the mode, I started working on a Dorian mode rendition of Jimmy Reeds "Caress Me Baby" that didn't sound like a white guy singing a black guy's blues. The next thing that got me was a Beyonce love song that I heard as an acoustic cover by a synth pop band. I worked out a way to preserve the flavor of the cover on a single guitar. What's common to all of this is the mental resources used to learn new and unfamiliar material. I'm an engineer by day. One would thing I'd try to relax my brain after work but I can't turn my brain off. I only can redirect it.
    Flip G and 4pickupguy like this.
  5. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

    May 12, 2013
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I guess what compels someone to play is different than what inspires them to play. The compulsion to play is the ‘drive’, Inspiration is the desire to play.
    Jay Jernigan likes this.
  6. DjimiWrey

    DjimiWrey Tele-Meister

    Aug 15, 2020
    i'm often "inspired" by atmospheric conditions; the insulation and and inner isolation of a foggy day or the moody changes in the color of the sky, and of course, love and heartbreak
    Mike Eskimo, 4pickupguy and Aristeas like this.
  7. rangercaster

    rangercaster Poster Extraordinaire

    May 8, 2008
    Knoxville TN for now
    I just like playing guitar...

    I rarely write any more ...

    I am a great interpreter of other people's songs, however ...
    Ebidis likes this.
  8. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

    Jul 25, 2011
    Houston, TX
    It's kind of none of the above - I just do it because I can't imagine not doing it. I agree that sometimes a new or different guitar will inspire different music, new to me music and that's always fun. Sometimes it's just the thrill of stumbling into something that sounds good to my ears, and then pursuing it to see what happens. From the very first, when I picked up a guitar, I was plunking out my own music. Still doing that after, what, 54 years?

    Some would say that's the very definition of crazy. Maybe, but I'm still having fun and still can't imagine not doing it.
    timbgtr likes this.
  9. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Mar 31, 2009
    Plundertown (Gasville) OR
    Only my egocentric idea that anyone anywhere might ever be interested enough in anything I have to say or play. Hey, it could happen!
    elihu and hemingway like this.
  10. MilwMark

    MilwMark Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Apr 29, 2013
    near Arnold's
    Two very different constructs for me.

    Writing songs? - life.

    Writing playing my guitar/write parts? - new band tunes.

    New gear has the OPPOSITE effect of anything productive musically, for me. It just puts me in this useless spiral of playing the same riffs and tinkering with gear/settings. Farthest thing from creativity imaginable.
  11. jondanger

    jondanger Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jan 27, 2011
    Charm City, MD
    I was driving a few weeks ago and this quatrain about writing popped into my mind:

    Desperation’s boring
    And inspiration’s corny
    So we only write
    When we get high or we get horny

    Not sure I’m going to be able to work that into a song, so if anyone wants it - it’s yours.
    rag1 and P Thought like this.
  12. envirodat

    envirodat Tele-Meister

    Aug 19, 2019
    With writing I do that when I want to frustrate myself and realize how gifted people are who do this. With playing, sanity inspires me. After a 25 year break from playing, I started again and rediscovered just how much playing regularly keeps my sanity. So I guess the answer is playing is the reaction to life. It soothes the soul and makes me smile.
  13. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 14, 2012
    London, UK
    Mental instability (the need to "express" myself) and my massive stupid ego.

    Probably amount to the same thing.
  14. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Oct 11, 2017
    None of the above. With me, it starts as a buzz in my head, progressing to an idea. Then, I will obsess on that idea until it comes out through my fingers.
    LAPlayer likes this.
  15. timbgtr

    timbgtr TDPRI Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    I'd say "none of the above" as well.

    Increasingly over time, it's been simply that I love hearing what the guitar sounds like. I just love listening to them. Next, and should be a higher priority, is getting better at it. Finally is learning new songs, for me particularly working out American songbook chord-melody arrangements.

    Because there's so much good stuff there, and because I'm a pretty terrible singer, I don't feel a strong push to write.
    Flip G and envirodat like this.
  16. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2007
    MV, CA
    When I get a fat check from work and things will be easy for a time, the family is good, bills are paid and I wake up with nothing in particular to do......Suddenly I have time to be reflective and out comes the guitar.

    Also, when I have too many bills, the family is freaking out, and I have a long list of things I need to do....Suddenly I need a moment to not think about the situation and out comes the guitar.

    So pretty much any excuse and out comes the guitar.
    4pickupguy, LAPlayer and elihu like this.
  17. gitapik

    gitapik Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

    Jan 16, 2010
    New York City
    A regular practice routine is a must in my world. Got drummed into me since childhood on all my instruments. So if my technique is off due to lack of practice, I get distracted. Very difficult to play with fluidity and almost impossible to write. But if I’m in practice; things are much much easier. So I get inspired when my hands are strong and nimble and I don’t have to focus on my technique (or lack of).

    Playing off of ideas from band mates during rehearsals and friends I jam with is often inspirational. I love to collaborate on original material.

    Then there’s the “life events” thing. Until my daughter was born; I tended to be “inspired” to write when I was bummed out. Went to momma to ease the pain. Lotta sad and introspective solo guitar tunes. Got more upbeat when my kid took me outside of myself.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
    4pickupguy likes this.
  18. GearGeek01

    GearGeek01 Tele-Meister

    Jan 26, 2007
    When I was in my teens I would write a lot of lyrics. Back then I would use a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary to create phrases that often ended in a rhyming word. My high school geometry teacher (who I thought was an asshat) wrote on my report card one year "If he would spend as much time on his math as he does on writing songs in class he would be a better student."

    Now I'm in my 50s and I'm not all that inspired to compose new songs anymore. Not sure if my brain is just old and dull or what. Buying a new pedal sometimes creates a new song or a way to voice old chords.

    I gain no inspiration from "new artists" as IMHO we have none worth a damn in 30 years. To me, Joe Bonamassa and John Mayer are not innovators, they are just copy cats of music already invented. I think all the best rock and roll was created in the 60s and 70s, I leap-frogged right over the big hair/eye liner/spandex/whammy bar music of the 80s. I was studying jazz with studio musicians an dTed Greene in the 80s so the 3 chord whammy bat schtick was pretty boring to me. I really hated (and still do) Eddie Van Halen. To me it was just a bunch of flashy noise making by a drunk kid out of control socially. Then a whole herd of guitar players became Eddie clones and that genre of "heavy metal" was born. Not for me, ever. I can't listen to it any longer than I can listen to country or rap, LOL.

    I stopped playing "cover music" over 30 years ago. I figured out that (for example) what record companies were looking for wasn't a good cover band (howbeit Van Halen is one of the world's best cover bands...)(You Really Got Me, Ice Cream Man, Pretty Woman, etc, etc, etc). Record companies "the industry" was looking for original, so I stopped "learning it just like the CD." At the time I had switched from being a jazz purist to a blues purist, instead of listening to nothing but jazz in the 80s, in the 90s I would listen to nothing but roots blues.

    No to Mike Bloomfield, no to Peter Green, no to (especially) Eric Clapton (who I hate), no to John Mayall. No to these late-bloomer white boys mimicking the real thing.

    Yes to Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Blind Boy Fuller, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Albert Collins, anything Willie Dixon (bass) was involved with, B.B. King, Howling Wolf (voice), Koko Taylor (voice), (especially yes to) Buddy Guy and Junior Wells (harp), Sonny Boy Williamson II (harp), Little Walter (harp), Lead Belly, Son House, T-Bone Walker, Big Bill Broonzy, Lightning Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip james, Elmore James, (especially) Otis Rush, Freddie King, Albert King, Bobby Bland, Sonny Terry (Piedmont Blues), James Cotton (harp), Pinetop Perkins (Piano)... I could fill up the bulletin board here with REAL blues guys.

    "You are what you eat" so to speak... and for many years all I ate into my ear canals was this kind of blues. Then, instead of trying to rip them off like Clapton has done for decades (makes me puke every time he says "Robert Johnson" like he's the only one on Earth that ever heard of freaking Robert Johnson)... I developed my only individual and original blues sound. Yup, just another white boy ripping off the black man's music, but I didn't come in through the Mike Bloomfield, Peter Green, Eric Clapton (who I hate), John Mayall white boy camp.

    I purposefully took contract jobs in Mississippi twice, played with the street musicians on Beale Street in Memphis. Had a gig outside of "Tater Red's Lucky Mojos and Voodoo Healings" on Beale Street. I had a regular gig at a restaurant in Clarksdale, Mississppi on Saturday nights. I spent my weekends doing my own research up and down the Delta, experiencing the climate, levees, cotton fields, freight rains and as much as that region as I could soak up.

    This was my inspiration... I wrote 40 blues songs while in Mississippi.

    At midnight, in front of the Mt Zion Church, standing on (one of) Robert Johnson's graves, I wrote a blues song.

    I visited the "crossroads" of 49 and 61 across from the Barbee Cemetery (just north of Clarksdale, MS) where Robert Johnson (according to legend) "sold his soul" to the devil in exchange for musical ability. I took a quartz stone from that intersection and had it made into a necklace I wore anytime I played the blues. (No, I didn't sell my soul, my soul belongs to Jesus and always will).

    Rock and roll and heavy metal and really jazz didn't fit me, but I found out the blues fit me like a glove. Not long after that I had a blues duo with a harmonica player and we played blues 6 nights a week around (of all places) Asheville, North Carolina.

    In the process of all this I copyrighted 30 songs at the US Library of Congress. The first 10 were offerings to God, and had a Christian theme ("put God first" was my idea) then the next 20 were all blues songs.

    Then life got crazy around 2002. My wife was f-ing her ex-boyfriend for the last 4 years of our marriage (I figured out), so we got a divorce. I couldn't find work in my contract job, and the blues duo broke up. Something about all that silenced my creativity. I think a person can only go through so much emotional pain before they break. I withdrew into a shell and started calling myself "Lonewolf." My next of kin all turned out to be my worst enemies, so I "left the pack." I haven't talked to a "family" member in over 10 years. As in the wilderness a wolf will leave the pack and become a Lonewolf, the purpose in nature is so the (usually male) wolf goes off and starts his own pack and becomes the Alpha male (leader) in the new pack. I guess that is where I am today.

    Now my Christian songs sound more like Pink Floyd than the candy-striped stuff you hear on the radio or in the concert-style worship centers called "mega churches" and I don't really think they are ready for Pink Floyd at church. Plus, I left behind playing or learning cover music decades ago and to play in church these days you have to be a cover band kind of guy to "play it just like the CD". So much for my skills in blues or jazz improvisation. If anything I may be a good street musician with a message. I played for a mega church for a while that had 18,000 in attendance on the weekends over 5 services... I never jelled with the genre of music and I really don't like doing cover music at all.

    Doesn't mean spiritual/Gospel/Christian songs don't pop out of me. Sometimes with a hint of the blues, or jazz, or Pink Floyd, haha. The acceptance of the electric guitar has come a long way in the church since the 70s, but still has a long way to go. My opinion of it these days is that these mega churches usually have a really good looking female (or male) lead vocalist, in their 20s, who jump around the stage, with a 20-something not all that talented guitar player using a Line 6 Helix playing ditty little lines that take very little talent to play "just like the CD"... I did cover band music when I was 15 or 16 years old... I just took my abilities some where else. I wasn't satisfied with 3 chords and a Pentatonic scale. Plus I don't really like the genre of music played by these bands in the popular mega churches. Its like bubble gum pop to me, and I never liked bubble gum pop when that music was popular. Then they have their "Dove Awards" to mimic the "Grammy's"... I think the whole scene is more like cashing in on making a profit using the Bible as an excuse. That's my opinion and as far as I'll go on that topic here. I'm only saying this to show why I DON'T play that kind of music.

    Mostly what I do these days is some kind of solo stuff, maybe with a looper or backing tracks, with an electric guitar. I don't like acoustic guitars and except for an old cheap Hohner acoustic somebody gave me, I don't ever buy acoustic guitars. I'm just an electric guitar guy. I learned to play straight ahead jazz (like Joe Pass's solo stuff) so getting a nice finger-style clean sound for me is great. I can make an electric guitar sound like an acoustic guitar.

    I also have 25 electric guitars (oops, sold a couple, sorry 22 electric guitars... well, 21 electric guitars and 1 bass). I like guitars with special switching and sometimes the sounds I make out of a new guitar's switching turn me on to a new creative wavelength.

    I've been playing steady for 45 years, so I have a lot of stories to tell. The OP said "Please elaborate for us." So I got my index fingers pumping with that as a muse and this is what I came up with this time.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
    4pickupguy likes this.
  19. Rusty Spanner

    Rusty Spanner Tele-Meister

    Apr 29, 2019
    Beautiful Downtown Burnley
    Three chords played in right order make me feel like I've discovered the meaning of life.

    If only I could remember WHICH order......
    4pickupguy and Aristeas like this.
  20. THX1123

    THX1123 Tele-Meister

    Aug 24, 2006
    What I write tends to be inspired a lot more nowadays by the styles and abilities of the drummer and bass player. I've found that identifying and consciously playing to strengths from the get go makes things turn out better.
    The drummer writes songs. They are not complex, but they are not intuitive. It can be challenging to play them as he wrote them because he is not starting from the band perspective. The results are usually worth it. But it doesn't seem to work for my songs if I try to make them play something that is outside their strengths. I find it an interesting challenge.
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