Composition Un-stickers

thinkingSo you’re writing a tune, you’ve got an idea or two but now you’re stuck!

Here are some ideas to try to help you move your composition forwards.

1. Use The Force

Don’t worry about it. Ideas have a habit of developing all by themselves. Who knows how :) Go and have a cup of tea and come back to it in a bit…

2. Use More Force

Ok, if that didn’t work, try these. Basically, you just pick one of these at random and then TRY it. They’re just prompts to move you from wherever you are now to some *new thing*.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter what the prompt is, you just want to change *something* and then work from there. But you have to apply yourself and mess around for a little bit.

Think of it like a maze and you’re just starting at a different place and you have to work your way out from there. Just like a maze, the result isn’t instant – you still have to work your way out :)

Now what follows is a big list.

You’re going to read it all and then think – ‘That’s nice, I’ll definitely do that in the future.’

You’ll never do it.

Wise up, dummy!

I know you better that you know you.

So here’s my suggestion:

Pick a number between 1 and 66.

Got it?


Now go to that SINGLE idea and USE IT!

And, if I catch you using another idea, I will insist that you eat whelks for one whole year before bedtime.

Ok, pick a number…








  1. Add a random chord. G diminished, let’s say.
  2. Delete some of it.
  3. Tie something together somehow.
  4. Repeat the last thing you did.
  5. Steal an idea.
  6. Riff
  7. Change the dynamic
  8. What could happen with the drums?
  9. Go faster
  10. Surprise the listener
  11. Keep the feeling the same but change something.
  12. Add another chord
  13. What would you do if you had to record this in an hour?
  14. Make it sound like drinking
  15. Imagine this is the soundtrack to a film, what’s happening?
  16. Make a plan
  17. Anagram – rearrange everything you have so far
  18. What’s the one thread through the whole?
  19. What are you wanting to hear?
  20. Make it sound jagged
  21. What would be weird?
  22. What would be nice to improvise on?
  23. Use an interval
  24. Record your idea on a phone [quick and easy] sing how you want it to go next
  25. Make it complex
  26. Use a rhythm
  27. Go up a fret
  28. Slide
  29. Layer another idea into your idea
  30. Think perspective – what’s in the background/foreground?
  31. What are the elements?
  32. What was the last book you read?
  33. Use space to connect things
  34. Ask the other musicians
  35. What would Miles say?
  36. Start on a wrong note
  37. Play twice as slow.
  38. Use repetition
Try a sequence
Can you displace something?
  41. Inverrt it
  42. Make it smaller
  43. Make it bigger
Fragment something
  46. Combine two of these ideas
  47. Transpose that bit
  48. What sounds are around you now?
  49. Start from a different place
  50. Play chords.
  51. Play noises.
  52. Strum
  53. Play a semitone away from all the chords.
  54. Don’t resolve.
  55. Leave huge gaps.
  56. Play a conversation.
  57. Ignore everybody.
  58. Mix senses
  59. Make the next bit nothing to do with the last bit
  60. End all the phrases the same
  61. Is this bit tension or release?
  62. Focus on the negative space
  63. Move your hand
  64. End all phrases different
  65. Don’t end ide…

Ok, if you just read the article and didn’t actually apply it to your composition, that’s ok for now. No whelks immediately.


For that you must pay…

You’re charged to add ONE OF YOUR Un-sticker ideas in the comments below…