I've always loved music, since I was a little toddler listening to Papa play his fiddle every morning, which inspired me to pick up the violin at age five. Since then, I've always been looking for new songs to learn and now, at age 15, I'm at the part where I want to put my feelings into my music. Can someone help me figure out how to get my feelings into my violin? Every time I pick it up and try to play out my inspiration, I just end up playing songs I already know. This is something I really, really, want to get into. If you have had similar problems and got past please tell me how! I have a special message to get out... THANK YOU!!!

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    Hi @Anna! I think it's great that you are so passionate about this and I think this site will prove to be a great resource for you. One of the top priorities here is keeping questions and answers specific, clear and direct so that others can easily find the information later. Your question is simply too broad and cannot be answered in a direct, concise manner. There are a lot of passionate, experienced people here that would love to help you, but you will need to think of a more specific question to ask (like "what is the best way to start composing?") – WillRoss1 Sep 17 '19 at 2:51
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    I know it can be little tricky when you are just starting out to even know what to ask in the first place. Your best bet right now is to browse through the existing questions and answers for anything you find interesting. When you think of something you want a specific answer to, search for it. There's a good chance it has already been asked. If it hasn't been asked already, then by all means, create a new question and we would love to help! – WillRoss1 Sep 17 '19 at 2:59
  • Possible duplicate of How can I learn to compose? – Tim H Sep 17 '19 at 8:17
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    Or possibly: music.stackexchange.com/questions/3010/… – Tim H Sep 17 '19 at 8:23

Not a quick easy one to answer, at all. You've been playing for ten years, so you know a fair bit about how music work on your instrument. You know a lot of songs. That's part of the trouble. You've learned songs in their entirety, and they're embedded in you and your playing.

You need to leave them aside for now, and start making your own music. (I know you said that, but...) For starters, choose a key, and just fiddle about with its notes (yes, literally!) avoiding any hints of tunes you already know in that key. Come back to the root note every couple of bars or so, to remind yourself that's where 'home' is. When you play a phrase that sounds good, play it again, either straight away, or soon after. Keep making little phrases, and try to fit them together in different orders. It's somewhat like we do when talking.

Something that works for some is picking up your instrument when you're in a mood. Could be ecstatic, really angry, lonely, fed up, comical, sad, the list goes on. Notice how you play at those times - prolong them, or even put yourself in a frame of mind - like an actor might have to do.

Record yourself - but certainly not playing tunes you know. Hum a snippet and then play it. Make it serious, sad, jocular, and decide which is best. All this is just a start, mainly to move you and your playing away from other people's music into your own. Good luck.

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One angle to come at this from would be to analyse those songs you already know well and try to understand how they make you feel like they do. What are the rhythms? What are the scales and chord progressions? How do the melodies move? What playing techniques are used? If you can learn to think of the songs that you know in more abstract terms, it will give you a set of techniques that you can use in your own songs.

I also agree with Tim's idea about starting simple - I think on an instrument like the violin, you can start with just one note, and try to play that note in an expressive way, using different rhythms and bowing techniques. When you feel able to do that, progress through a scale as Tim suggested, then start thinking about progressions and development of themes, and you will be able to start turning little ideas into a song.

You could also try writing some lyrics first, and see if that inspires you to turn them into a melodic form.

If all that fails, try to find a nearby crossroads....

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Most "original works" are nothing more than variations on a theme. What you remember as the favorite songs you have learned are the gateway to new composition. Rather than "avoid" them at all costs and try to be original using a template I'd start by editing one of your favorite songs. This is really the key to understanding the creative process. It is a feedback loop, we learn something, repeat what we learn, integrate it into our subconsciousness, then start using it and editing it in creative ways.

Avoiding this will not work for all people, maybe some, but most creative people understand the value of this feedback. Keys are not necessary for creative music, melodic themes are more important and many themes that you create on your own may not obey standard music theory, especially if the music of your childhood (your papa's fiddle playing) is not rooted in western music. If there are middle eastern or Turkish influences, or far east Asian influences, then your favorite melodies may not fit into the Major scale.

If you really want to understand how express feelings with music then think about the feelings that ceritain music invokes within you. Do some of the melodies you know make you feel happy, hopeful, sad, energized, etc? Try to identify the part of the melody that really does it for you in terms of changing your mood. It's no secret that within western music theory we have a standard set of rules for mapping feelings to scales, modes, and keys to some extent. But in my experience playing with what you know on your own will lead to a deeper understanding and a more personal attachment to the songs you write.

All the advice so far is good and correct, and different things work for different people. But in my opinion you could benefit by dissecting the songs you know into small melodic themes and then using those as building block by either (1) writing something using them in a different sequence or (2) rewriting the individual themes with something of your own and putting the song back together. This approach is used a lot by improvisational musicians in blues and jazz to create new ides on the fly.

Practice and patience will get you there. Don't be judgemental of yourself if you keep defaulting back to an old song, try to use that song to your advantage.

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