FingerpickPro as a Compositional Aid

Even if you play keyboard well or even play guitar well, FingerpickPro can be a helpful compositional aid. Explore some methods to help you get out of a rut, or simply find some new ideas.

Stuck in a Rut

When composing for guitar (or any instrument really) it is easy to get into a rut, whether through your fingers defaulting to familiar ways of playing, or always using the same chords, or simply drawing on a limited stock of ideas. So, perhaps we need more inspiration?

Mechanical 'Inspiration'

We commonly have the idea that inspiration requires great imagination, but ironically it is often helped by 'mechanical' methods. What does this mean? It can mean adopting some arbitrary limitation and just playing within that. For example, you might try to compose a song using only one chord. This would stretch your ability to devise variations within that restraint to maintain interest. In the case of a virtual instrument like FingerpickPro you can use the computer to do some of the work for you.

Get the Computer to Do the Work

In the case of FingerpickPro it could be as simple as using chords you don't normally think of using. Each Key Instrument has 36 chords, and each is just as easy for the computer to 'play' as another. Just create a short midi pattern and set it to repeat play. This allows you to bypass the tendency for your fingers to make the decisions for you by settling into comfortable patterns. And, instead of being distracted by having to play, and judge the aesthetic quality of what you are playing at the same time, you can separate these two things. Let the computer do the playing while you sit back and listen. Simply change the chord select keyswitches and listen to the conjunction of sounds when less familiar chords follow each other in a particular picking pattern.

Try a Different Key

Then try the same exercise in a different Key Instrument, but using the same midi file/s. Listen for how it sounds different when using the different chords required for that key. The very structure of a guitar is already an asset for creativity because of its distinctive limitations. It's not easy to transpose a fingerstyle guitar piece because unlike on a keyboard the chord shapes are going to be all different. FingerpickPro makes it easy to transpose, while also revealing the limitations of a merely mechanical transposition.

When it comes to creativity, limitation is your friend.

Make Mechanical Adjustments

Then, while the midi pattern is repeating, make adjustments to things like changing a hammer-on to a pull-off or vice versa, when each note should start, and how long it should sound. Make these changes without any thought to what notes they are or what string it might be. Just make 'mechanical' adjustments and see how they sound. If you find something you find pleasing, keep it.