Writing A Melody
Introduction by Jim Liddane
The melody is an integral and fundamental aspect of a song, playing a crucial role in its overall impact and appeal.
Just think of a few songs the melodies of which could (and frequently do) stand on their own as instrumental pieces...
"Yesterday" - The Beatles.. "Over the Rainbow" - Judy Garland... "Imagine" - John Lennon... "Hallelujah" - Leonard Cohen... "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Queen...
"Stairway to Heaven" - Led Zeppelin... "Hotel California" - Eagles... "What a Wonderful World" - Louis Armstrong... "And I Love You So" - Don Mclean... "Moon River" - Andy Williams... "Wonderwall" - Oasis... "Can't Help Falling in Love" - Elvis Presley... "Unchained Melody" - The Righteous Brothers... "The Sound of Silence" - Simon & Garfunkel... "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - Simon & Garfunkel... "Time After Time" - Cyndi Lauper... "What's Going On" - Marvin Gaye... "Fast Car" - Tracy Chapman... "Someone Like You" - Adele....
The list just goes on....
Melody is not everything, but getting the melody just right can mean everything.
• A strong and catchy melody has the power to capture the listener's attention and stay in their memory. Memorable melodies are often easily recognisable and can make a song instantly identifiable. They create a hook that draws people in and leaves a lasting impression.
• Melodies have the ability to evoke and convey emotions in a direct and immediate way. Through the use of pitch, rhythm, and phrasing, a melody can express a wide range of emotions, such as joy, sadness, excitement, or nostalgia. It enhances the lyrical content by adding a layer of emotional depth and resonance.
• A well-crafted melody can be singable and easy to follow, encouraging audience participation and engagement. When listeners can easily sing along or hum a melody, it creates a sense of connection and involvement with the song. Singable melodies often become memorable and facilitate audience interaction during live performances.
• The melody provides a structural framework for a song. It establishes the main musical theme and guides the progression of the composition. The repetition and variation of melodic motifs help to create a coherent and cohesive musical journey for the listener. The melody often determines the overall form of the song, including verses, choruses, and bridges.
• Melodies contribute to the uniqueness and individuality of a song. Just like a fingerprint, each melody has its own distinct characteristics and melodic contours. The melody helps to differentiate one song from another and gives it a recognisable identity.
• Melodies can be culturally significant and associated with specific genres or musical traditions. Certain melodies become iconic and representative of a particular era or style of music. They can evoke a sense of nostalgia or cultural identity, adding depth and richness to the musical experience.
While the melody is essential, it's important to acknowledge that the success of a song often relies on the harmonies, arrangements, instrumentation, and production elements working together harmoniously. These components, in conjunction with the melody, create a cohesive musical experience that captivates and resonates with listeners.
Songwriting, or writing songs and creating melody, is about doing two main things - telling a story to your listeners in a way that creates an emotional experience, and crafting the chords, groove, and melody to deliver and effectively enhance that message.
Singer-songwriter and Internet Business Coach Jamie Leger gives you some handy tips.
Melody, in every genre of music, is the bedrock, and probably the single most important factor in what people would call a "great song." Whether it's a timeless classic, or a mind numbing "flavor of the month" pop-hit, Melody is what makes a song memorable.
Being memorable and having an impact on the listener through some profound transcendental connection, is the key to writing a great song.
The following are five well-worn and time-tested tips for how to write a melody that sings, and rises above the noise of hackneyed and mediocre.
Melody Tip #1 - Sketch Out Template Ideas With Dummy Syllables
Sometimes you'll get lucky and the right melody will effortlessly come to you already attached to the right lyrical phrase... For the other times, you're going to have to work for it a little more.
Dummy syllables such as la, or da, or na, etc. can be very helpful in sketching out your melodies.
Exercise: Choose a rhythm pattern or drum loop that you like, record a simple chord progression to that groove using either piano or guitar, and then sketch out an interesting and inspiring melody using dummy syllables. Play with different rhythms and timing on different beats, as well as tone and sequence.
Melody Tip #2 - Study Popular Melodies, & Write a New Song With That Melody
Learning popular melodies and melodies that your ears really enjoy, is a fantastic way to analyse the patterns and understand the simplistic beauty of a really great melody. By doing this enough, you will also sort of embed a natural intuition for good melody after a while.
Exercise: Go and select your favorite hit song or favorite songs melody. Break it down, note by note. Then go and lie on your back, or sit in quiet meditation. Visualise the eight notes and as your mind auto-play's that melody, imagine each of the corresponding notes in the scale are lighting up. Do this for 5-10 minutes. Then ask yourself the following questions.
Can you see the pattern? Why does it work so well? Is it simple or complex?
Next, go and take that melody and write your own song with it. Create a new chord progression, groove, and lyric around that melody.
*Remember, you can't actually use this song for anything other than a learning exercise because you are using a copyrighted melody, but it is still a good exercise that will help you get better.
Melody Tip #3 - Remember, Repetition Is The Key To Catchy
People remember through repetition. People remember through repetition. People remember through repetition.
Get it? That's why almost all great melodies are fairly simple and extremely repetitive.
Take Miley Cyrus' "The Climb" for example. It's the same 6 notes at the start of EVERY line of the chorus, leading up the payoff line, "It's the CLI-MB."
Now I'm not saying that Miley Cyrus defines the gold standard for high quality music, or master melody craftsman. But I can assure you there were some heavy hitters in on crafting that song and melody. Anyway, it's a great melody.
Exercise: For your next song, focus on repetition for the first couple phrases, then maybe a slight variance in phrase, and then a payoff phrase. Implement this into either your verse, or chorus, or both.
Melody Tip #4 - Plunk Out Interesting Melodies Using Single Piano/Guitar Notes
When you think about your favorite or most memorable melodies, you can-almost without exception easily hum or whistle the melody and most people who were familiar with the song could name it back to you.
There is something to be said about that. A great melody should be able to be played on any instrument and still be the main focal point that the listener pays attention to.
Melody Tip #5 - Make It Feel Good & Make It Singable For Non-Singers
This is one of the biggest factors for writing a memorable melody. Your melody should be infectious. It should be repeating automatically in your listeners head, hopefully throughout the rest of the day.
If it's too technical, or complex, or using notes most people cannot hit, then you'll significantly lose the potential for that catchiness that makes people feel good and enjoy singing along with it themselves.
Exercise: Go and ask your friends to sing the melody and ask for their feedback in regards to being memorable and catchy, as well as easily singable.
The good news is that if you have followed the advice from the previous tips, you should have most of your work already taken care for this one as well.
So there you have it. Five fantastic tips for writing a better melody! Now, don't forget the most important part of this whole thing, and put this into use while it's still fresh. Get up and go DO the exercises, and until next time,
Jamie Leger is a Singer-Songwriter by night and Internet Business Coach for Experts (authors / speakers / coaches / consultants) and Music Entrepreneurs (songwriters / artists / bands / producers) by day.
He helps people turn their knowledge and experience into content and turn their content into cash by building an audience and a profitable brand- through private training and step by step instruction.
He has been making music in his home recording studio and writing content for hundreds of industry magazines and various online publications since 2004.
Jamie Ledger's Website
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If you have wandered onto this page by accident, then you may very well be wondering what "The Knowledge" button above is all about.
ISA • International Songwriters Association (1967)
"The Knowledge" is a free multi-part course which takes you from thinking up the basic idea for your song, through using AI or Artificial Intelligence to help improve your writing skills, to penning the title, the lyric and the melody. It then covers plagiarism (what to do if you're told your song sounds like another one!) and copyrighting your song, so that you can take action if your work is stolen.
Finally, it deals with selling your song, promoting your demo, music publishers, putting your songs on the web, and in movies, or on television, getting the money in, raising cash to fund your career via crowd-funding, before setting up your own music publishing company so that you get to keep all of the money! And that blue button at the bottom of each lesson simply takes you to the next lesson.
If however you would like to go back to Lesson 1 and start the course (it will take about 90 minutes to complete), then just press HERE!
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Writing A Song •
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