I entered a guitar contest by David Wallimann. It's about coming up with a good and catchy melody over the backing track provided by David. It's not so much the competitive element that attracts me to such contests, but the fact that they are always good for meeting fellow guitarists. It's very interesting to see and hear how others approach such a task, and it's also good to get feedback on your own work. Please check out this post of mine for more deeply philosophical thoughts about guitar contests ;)
I thought it might be interesting to share with you how I come up with ideas for what to play. I work the same way when I do studio jobs for other people. So I get a mix-down of the song I'm supposed to play on, sometimes accompanied by a lead sheet showing the song's structure and the chords. Then I would just listen a few times, but without consciously concentrating on the music, more like listening to background music. I keep on doing this until some phrases and ideas pop up in my head. Sometimes this goes quickly, other times I need to listen a lot of times. But for me it's important to just "let it happen" without trying hard to find something. This will usually give results that I'm more satisfied with. After filling up my head with ideas I start playing along with my guitar to see how I can realize those ideas. I will discard some, come up with new ones, and as soon as I think that I got something good I start recording. This will definitely not be the final take. At that point I'm just collecting ideas for listening back and choosing. I would usually record 3 to 10 takes, and the higher the number of the take, the more similar the takes become, that's at least the normal development. Depending on how much time I have, I would listen back and then just sleep over it, listen back the next day, record a few more takes, and ultimately decide which one will be the final take. Of course, sometimes I would combine several takes, if I only like certain parts of the different takes. I don't do this, however, when I record videos (such as for the guitar contest), because with the video I prefer a single take. In that case there are always things that could be improved, but it's also healthy to give up perfectionism in certain situations. Of course, for expensive studio productions you get paid to be a perfectionist!
Anyway, here's my entry. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Sebbe, one of my students, also entered the contest. Check out his version!