I highly enjoy playing the guitar on my free time, but I lack a singing voice and I'm not in a band. Therefore, it is instrumentals I am most interested in learning. I've learned a few over the years in the genres blues, rock, folk and classical and occasionally played them live.
Lately, I've started to become very interested in composing something myself completely from scratch: an instrumental piece for a single guitar. What I mean is, I don't necessarily want to start out from any of the traditional chord sequences from blues, rock or folk but rather try to find something fairly unique. I imagine my first humble composition will set out from a chord sequence of my own construction and then embellished from there. Perhaps a chord-floating-into-melody-and-back kind of deal, along the lines of "Little Wing" or "Under The Bridge"?
I am very confused over how to get started. I guess what I'm most insecure about is how to find a good chord sequence for the song, which I guess is typically square one in the composition process? After that, I can imagine embellishing away by modifying chords, adding coloring, changing voicings, breaking chords apart, making a melody crystallize and so on, but it is my insecurities about how to come up with the underlying chord sequence which really holds me back.
Here is some kind of attempt to express what I'm wondering:
1. Is it a good/common starting point to just try around with simple majors and minors as a first attempt to establish some kind of first draft, and then move on to changing some of the chords into variants such as sus:es, 6ths and so on? Or might that be a dead end?
2. Or is it the choice of scale that is the natural starting point? In that case, how do I know which chords "work" with that scale?
3. Is it wise to just start completely from scratch? As I understand it, chord sequences that "work" as a basis for songs could be of just about any nature, but perhaps there are some typical standard approaches and general pointers as to how to structure them, some universal truths about what "works"?
4. Sometimes when studying chords for existing songs (something I know I don't do enough) I find myself wondering "why that chord there, on what basis did the artist decide on that one in particular?", "why does it sound good?". This usually happens in situations when I see a really strange chord somewhere. I'm just confused, where does a decision to use an obscure chord come from? A calculated choice from an extensive mental library of chords or just a random experiment that just seems to work out?
Sorry for the messiness of the above, but I'd greatly appreciate input and tips from anyone with some experience in composing their own songs. Answers referring to any of the specific questions above or just general suggestions, tips for books or websites or accounts of your own strategies in composing songs and creating chord sequences are very welcome. Thanks!