The Three Biggest Myths About Writing Melodies

Updated: Sep 11, 2020

Do you know the 3 biggest myths about writing melodies?

If you want to create a catchy hook without boring melodies then you need to read this immediately because the myths and the TRUTH about writing melodies are inside this article.

Myth #1: The more complicated the melody, the better

The point of the melody is stating a theme of the song. There needs to be something tying the whole song together.

Using a simple motif and developing it can be far more impactful to the listener, because it is a progression of something they are familiar with and watching change through the whole song. Having something you know move and change through the song is a rewarding experience for the listener, just as seeing clues or foreshadowing in movies or books that aren’t beating the viewer over the head leaves the audience feeling smart for catching it.

This is a technique used in every pop radio song, where they actually steal motifs from each other, so that a new song sounds familiar. The effect is that it drastically reduces the time it takes for your brain to familiarize the song, and it gets let through the door with relative ease.

Myth #2: No one needs more than the blues scale or major scale

Sure you can hold a conversation with 20 words, but are those really the only ones you want to use? Would you want to paint with the same colour exclusively? It can be unnecessarily limiting.

Even the blues doesn’t rely exclusively on the blues scale. And music only makes progress by taking chances. You can stand in the shadows and blend in, but your music may not make the impact that you want it to by playing it safe.

If done out of an attempt to avoid learning because you don’t want to, that is just ignorantly holding yourself and your music back. A master craftsman has all kinds of tools at his disposal, not to use them all at once, but to have them when the job calls for it.

Myth #3: You have to pick a scale and stick with it

Sure there are a ton of rules in music, but you learn the rules so you know when to break them and how. Picking a scale or key center is a good start, but it is important to learn how to insert other things for effect, or more seamlessly.

You can make your music more interesting and exciting without resorting to completely wacky or jarring changes. Look for similarities in two different scales, and try to see ways you might interchange them in a melody.

The only difference between the Aeolian mode (Natural Minor Scale) and the Dorian mode is a b6 or a natural 6, respectively. Try interchanging the two and see what kind of a difference it might make in a melody based off of one of these modes.

Another idea is taking a melody from a major key and making it minor, or the other way around. You might be able to make a small amount of melody go a lot further by making small changes and expanding on them.

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