- Play around on an instrument until you chance upon something that sounds good.
- Transcribe the rhythm and inflection of words.
- Notate sounds from your environment: bird song or other natural sounds, machines or other man-made sounds.
- Use imagery. For example compose a thunderstorm — calm, wind, premonition, lightning, thunder, hail, rain, calm, rainbow.
- Steal. (Good composers borrow. Great composers steal.)
- Transform a motive. Compose variations.
- Try numerology, e.g. use a phone number or the letters of your name.
- Use chance, e.g. flip a coin or roll dice.
- Don't worry about being absolutely original.
...there is no new thing under the sun.Ecclesiastes 1:9
On one level, everyone who writes anything knows that pure originality is impossible. Everywhere you look, the ground is already camped on.
So you sigh and pitch your tent where you can, knowing someone else has been there before.
Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature Like a Professor. New York: Quill, 2003.