How to compose a melody?
How to compose a melody?
Music touches the strings of the soul, it is impossible to live without it and it surrounds us every day;
but listening is one thing, composing it’s another. Creating a melody requires another path and not just a technical one.
Melody is a progression of notes with intervals, the basis for words. It is not complex, but requires good musical preparation, a lot of exercise and creativity.
Basic knowledge to compose a melody
It is clear that to compose a melody it is necessary to have adequate musical knowledge: the more basic theory you know the easier it will be to understand the musical concepts to be implemented.
Music follows a pattern, a shape, which determines the position of each individual note and the intervals that will elapse between them. In composing a melody, it is not necessary to have a pattern, but it can be very useful to have a starting point. Usually, you will also notice it in the music you listen to daily, the pattern of a melody is A A B A, or two verses, a refrain and another verse. Put more simply: for two identical sections that are repeated there is a refrain, followed in turn by a section identical to the first two. At this point you will all be listening to a song or humming it to realize the truthfulness of the statement. But this is not the only existing melody structure and, in any case, you can always decide to be innovative and try something different.
In the composition of a melody, in addition to the basic knowledge of music, it is necessary to know the musical genres. It is important because each genre has a style and therefore you will have to adopt one when you make up your melody. In this way you can understand if there are particular structures, shades and progressions to consider.
Remember: the intervals, the pauses are equally important: whether you play your own song or do another one you will need rest, so in a melody, scattered here and there, there must be pauses.
An important help in composing a melody comes from listening to other songs. Make a playlist and listen to all the songs very carefully, but in this case be careful not to get caught up in the emotions, be rational and take notes on the changes of the notes, on the structure, on the pitch and on what you like more than that melody.
These are all technical tips that must be put into practice by listening to your emotions and fully experiencing the musical creative path, because this is what it is about.
Creating the base of a melody
If you intend to create a melody, avoid the mistake of starting from the lyrics. Thinking about words first and then adjusting music is much more complex, impossible for beginners. The words have their own rhythm so, afterwards, it would be necessary to adjust the melody to this rhythm.
For the realization of a basic track it can be very useful to improvise (it will seem strange but it is very useful). Many famous melodies were born by accident, so if you have an instrument, try it, improvise. Start with a simple idea, three or four notes around which you can develop an entire melody.
If you are used to play chords, it is from there that you have to start.
This is a very common practice among those who play the piano or guitar.
Try humming on the chords and slowly add the desired complexity. Still don’t think about the text.
In creating the base of a melody, it can be very useful to take inspiration from existing songs. Taking inspiration is not copying, but starting from a fragment to create something completely different.
Form a motif: a motif is a set of notes that takes shape. Many songs repeat the same motif multiple times with multiple variations.
How to embellish a melody
After creating the base of a melody, you can embellish it. You need to write a bass part to accompany it. This does not mean that it is necessary to have a bass in the group or to know how to play it. The bass line is an accompaniment that constitutes the “vertebral column” of the song and can be performed by any instrument that has a lower extension. The bass line can be simple or complex, fast or slow, the important thing is that it adapts to the melody you wrote and supports it.
If you have not already done so, at this stage, you need to write the chords, because they are the chords that will give the piece fullness and complexity. In case you decide not to do it you will have a bare melancholy melody.
To write the chords you have to start by establishing in what key the melody was written. Some chords adapt better to one key rather than another. For example, if the song is in C, the chord must start in C. It is the same song that will require the change of chord, the important thing is that you try to position the changes at the important parts or at the passage points of the melody. Usually the chord changes are positioned on the beat movements, at the beginning, or almost, of a measure. You can also use transition agreements that lead to another agreement.
If you want to create a more complex melody you have to take into consideration all the sections of the song. A melody may be enough to fill most of the song but many songs also have parts that break with the melody itself or that I introduce a second one. Think of the refrain (also called “bridge”) or something else. They are variations that introduce excitement and anticipation, make the song more involved and profound. If you want to make a melody of this kind, consider these tips.
Writing a melody can be very useful to make others listen to it. Play it and ask for their critical judgment. You will not necessarily have to follow their advice, but listening to others may take into consideration facets that you have not considered. If more than one person poses the same objection to you, it may be appropriate to change something in the melody or accompaniment. In any case, take advantage of any advice and any criticism.
There are many programs on the web that facilitate this process, but to create, give life, something good is necessary to be prepared. Besides the technique, it is true, you also need creativity, genius, but alone they are not enough. Listen to others, listen to other productions, understand what makes them special, emulate them, but never copy. Learn, follow instinct, analyse. Blend your rational and emotional part and give life to your melody.
It is an internal journey that starts from you and reaches the ears of others. Enjoy it!