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I've been using this approach a lot lately and thought I'd share. It's especially useful to overcome writer's blockade or to start out writing.

If you want or have to write a tune on the spot, but can't come up with anything decent try the following. Sit right down and write out the next thing, that comes to your mind, be it a silly string of motives or clichés or just part of a tune you just listened to. It doesn't matter. If you can't or don't want to write, just be sure you got it worked out well in your head.
Then start by taking out maybe 50% of the notes. Your melody most probably doesn't have "breathing spots", that what I address in the first round. Most music needs breathing spots even if it's played on piano. If you've cut out some larger spots this way, remove all (apparently) meaningless passing notes and cut the line down to it's bones.
If you don't yet have chords you can add them now and see how the notes movements connect the harmony. You could want to change certain note lengths to increase or decrease tensions related to the cords. You may have come up with a repeating motive or not, both are fine of course. Now you can add passing notes to the existing melody, be it to add some rhythmic motion or to make the line more lyrical.

I think the advantage working this way is, that you can turn your superficial musical experience (tunes you've heard, a style you want to write in) into a very personal composition, just by the process of transforming.

I'm not saying this is the only way to write music, most of it is still intuition for me. However by purposefully thinking in non musical terms I could work around quite some obstacles with this technique and find new, exciting and original material.

What do you think?

What is be your approach to writing?
 
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