How to Compose a Melody: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

Table of contents:

How to Compose a Melody: 15 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Compose a Melody: 15 Steps (with Pictures)
Anonim

A melody consists of a series of scales. Scales are notes that can be "sung" in a song, i.e. the main voice stands out above all the background noises and the accompanying voices. Any kind of song you write needs a melody. With a solid foundation in the basics of music and a little practice and tricks, you'll find that composing melodies is easier than you think.

Step

Part 1 of 3: Enriching Your Knowledge

Compose a Melody Step 1
Compose a Melody Step 1

Step 1. Study music theory

If you want to compose melodies well, you need to understand the basics of music first before you take serious composing. Of course, this is not a mandatory requirement. However, the more you understand music theory, the easier it will be for you to understand the musical concepts explained.

We will use musical terms in this article to make the concept easier to understand. Some musical terms will be explained here, but there are others that are difficult to explain in simple sentences. If you don't understand common terms like beat, bar (a time segment that contains multiple beats), and bara (the repetition of beats in each time segment), you may need to read a lot to learn these terms first

Compose a Melody Step 2
Compose a Melody Step 2

Step 2. Choose your song form

The form of the song is the same as gender, but in the field of music. All musical works generally follow a certain form, which will determine which part will sound how, which part this and which part the other, and where the changes. You may be familiar with this concept when you hear popular pieces of music, where there are choruses and stanzas. While you don't need to follow these form rules, they can help you follow the flow when composing your own melody.

  • The form commonly used in songs is the AABA pattern. This means the series consists of two stanzas, one refrain, then another stanza. In other words, one part that follows a certain series of tones, then another part with the same series of tones, then a different part, then returns to the series of tones as in the first part.
  • There are many different shapes, so do some research first so you can find the best one. You can consider the patterns AAAA, ABCD, AABACA, etc. Or, of course you can break out of these shape patterns.
Compose a Melody Step 3
Compose a Melody Step 3

Step 3. Study the available genres

Some genres of music have a certain style and if you want to succeed in creating that distinctive “like” sound, you have to compose the melody in a special way. Read material about music genres before you start writing songs, so you can identify the genre's unique features in terms of structure, chords, or progression.

For example, the key progressions for blues and jazz take certain forms. Jazz music uses certain chords very often, so you need to learn jazz chords before you start composing a jazz melody

Compose a Melody Step 4
Compose a Melody Step 4

Step 4. Think about the musicians and singers who will be performing your song

Whoever is performing the song you wrote will, at some point, need a break. The musicians' fingers need rest and the singers need time to catch their breath. You have to understand where to pause in a song and when to add momentum to the song. Try to lay these parts evenly and make the frequency such that the song can be performed well.

Compose a Melody Step 5
Compose a Melody Step 5

Step 5. Learn the details of your favorite songs

One of the things you can do to help improve your melodic writing skills is to start creating breakdowns of some of your favorite songs. Collect some songs with beautiful melodies and listen carefully. Usually when we listen to our favorite music, we will be carried away by the song, right? But this time, you will be mapping out the song, so you have to concentrate!

Write down when the notes in this song change. How did the song peak? How do you feel when you hear the keys? How is the melody accompaniment in the lyrics? Which is the best part of the melody? Which part is not good or what can improve this song to be better? You can transfer these lessons into your own composed melodies

Part 2 of 3: Creating the Base

Compose a Melody Step 6
Compose a Melody Step 6

Step 1. Try not to start with the lyrics

If you have a natural talent for writing lyrics, you're more likely to start writing lyrics. However, this method is a bit complicated and is not recommended, especially if your music education background is very limited. If you start with the lyrics, you will need to compose the melody based on the natural rhythm of the words in the lyrics and this can be very difficult, especially for a beginner. However, if you still want it this way, feel free to start the process by writing the lyrics.

Compose a Melody Step 7
Compose a Melody Step 7

Step 2. Have fun

This may sound silly, but in fact many of the best melodies are born from someone who just carelessly hit notes on the piano. If you have an instrument that you can tinker with, try this method. Just play around, create fun patterns or just sound the notes however you like, until you find something that sounds good to you.

If you don't have a musical instrument, you can sing or use an electronic instrument on the internet. You can find many free piano programs on websites and in apps available on your mobile device

Compose a Melody Step 8
Compose a Melody Step 8

Step 3. Make changes to simple ideas

You can take the very simple idea of composing a melody, just a three or four note progression, and turn that idea into a whole melody. For example, take a group of notes that you got while playing with an instrument earlier. From there, think about how you can move on to the next melody.

People with a natural musical talent often come up with song ideas in this way, just as a painter is looking for ideas for a painting. If you are this type of person, always carry a voice recorder or a book (if you know how to make musical notes) with you

Compose a Melody Step 9
Compose a Melody Step 9

Step 4. Start with the chords

If you're used to making chords, you can come up with a melody by playing with them. This is common for people who can play the piano or guitar, as these instruments rely heavily on chords. Follow the same process we covered in Step 1, but this time using chords, until you find a series of sounds that you like.

  • You can find websites that can play your chords, if you don't own an instrument or don't really understand chords.
  • Try humming the chords and crocheting them to make the melody more complex. Since you can't hum more than one note at a time, you'll be humming each one in a rhythmic way. When the notes are combined, without you realizing it, the sequence becomes a beautiful melody. Don't worry about the lyrics, after all, professional musicians almost always compose the melody first and sing random words which will be replaced with beautiful lyrics later.
Compose a Melody Step 10
Compose a Melody Step 10

Step 5. Borrow parts from existing melodies

Stealing the melody of someone else's song may sound like a very bad idea, but it's like the process of growing some plants for your garden by transplanting other plants. You can take a melody “spot” from another song and turn it into a completely different song or melody of your own composition. If you just take a progression of four or more notes and make enough changes, your piece can still be called original. However, remember that you are creating something completely different.

A good practice is to borrow melodies from different musical genres. For example, you want to write a piece of pop music. Try borrowing some melodies from rap music. Want to write a hip-hop song? Borrow some melodies from reggae music

Compose a Melody Step 11
Compose a Melody Step 11

Step 6. Build your melody based on a motif

A motif is a series of notes that make up the “idea” of your musical piece. Many songs take a motif and then repeat the sequence of notes, and change it slightly to make it a melody. If you're having a hard time composing a melody, this is a great option, as you can start composing a melody using this set of notes at the very beginning.

One of the best examples of this method is “Allegro con Brio” from “Beethoven's Symphony No. 5”. Beethoven took only the basic motifs, then repeated it many times and created musical works that are famous throughout the ages

Part 3 of 3: Making Your Melodies Shine More

Compose a Melody Step 12
Compose a Melody Step 12

Step 1. Create the bassline section

Once your melody is complete, you will need to write down the bassline for this melody. Yes, you may not have a bass sound in your song (for example, because what you wrote is a melody for a trumpet quartet). However, a bassline is more than just a bass sound. Bassline is the background sound for any instrument that has a low pitch. This bassline serves as the backbone of a song.

A bassline can be made simple or complex and sooner or later. In some genres of music, the bassline follows a specific pattern, as in blues music where the bassline is almost always on a quarter scale. The important thing is that the notes must match and support the melody you have composed

Compose a Melody Step 13
Compose a Melody Step 13

Step 2. Add the chords, if you haven't already

If you haven't started working on chords yet, you may need to add them now. The chords will make your song sound more complete and complex, although you can ignore them or use very simple chords if you want the song to sound more melancholy and simple.

  • Start by finding any keys written in your melody. Certain chords sound better with certain keys than others. For example, if your song starts in the key of C, starting with a C chord will sound more natural.
  • Changes between chords will depend on your song, but try applying the time to those changes to the main sounds or to changes in the melody. Generally, chord changes are made on the downbeat, at or near the bar. You can also use chord changes to move to another chord. For example, in a 4/4 song, you can put one of the chords on the downbeat of beat one and another on the beat of four, before going into chord changes that fall on beat one of the next bar.
Compose a Melody Step 14
Compose a Melody Step 14

Step 3. Experiment with other parts of your song

A melody will take up a large portion of a song, but many songs also have breaks or voids from the melody, or use a second melody. It may appear in the chorus or bridge, or a combination of several other passages. A break from a melody like this can add a bit of surprise or a dramatic touch to your song, so if you want to create that feel, consider applying a break from the melody.

Compose a Melody Step 15
Compose a Melody Step 15

Step 4. Try to share your work with other people

Play your melody in front of other people and ask their opinion. You don't need to apply everyone's opinion, but this process will actually help you to discover (see or hear) things that you previously didn't know/realize. If several people share the same opinion, maybe you should make changes or additions to your melody.

Tips

  • Listen to melodies by songwriters. Choose the one you like the most and try to find out what makes the song good to hear.
  • Learn the definitions of intervals, phrases, and themes in the context of musical composition.

Related article

  • Making Musical Artwork
  • Writing Scores
  • Creating Unique Lyrics for a Song

Popular by topic