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Writing Melodies: Fundamentals Every Musician & Songwriter Needs To Know

Do you know the 3 critical writing melodies fundamentals musicians & songwriters need to start creating a catchy hook?

If you're a musician or songwriter who wants to start creating catchy hooks without boring melodies, then you need to read this immediately so you understand the fundamentals critical for your writing melodies efforts.


Fundamental #1: Map out chord tones

Whether starting with just a melody, or a chord progression idea, identifying the chord tones (or potential chord tones) can be a massive help. If you know the notes in the chord that will be playing underneath each part of the melody, you can gain more insight into how these notes will play off of each other, add more tension or create a stronger resolution.


This allows you to unify the melody and chord progression to make them move together, not just one slapped together with the other. It may take a bit of time, but looking for these notes hidden in your melodies gives you the option to adjust them in ways to benefit the song.


If you are starting with a melody first before a chord progression, remember that chords usually change at the beginning of a new bar. Getting an idea of where a few chords could be placed puts you on the right path to which ones might be placed there, based on what melody notes are being used at the time.


Even this doesn’t have to be set in stone, but can be a great starting point to use as a framework to play around with after the fact.


Fundamental #2: Identify "target notes"

Planning where you are going helps you aim in a direction and get there. Seems simple, but it's also a simple thing to forget when sitting down to conjure a masterpiece from thin air.

This is helpful in developing a melodic idea, adding embellishment, and providing yourself with more control over where your song goes.


The idea here is to look ahead to identify the juiciest notes that you could choose in a particular situation. Maybe there is a note in the idea you are playing around with, or perhaps you know a certain note would sound amazing over a chord change.


It is important to remember that a target note may not be a chord tone. While a chord tone played in the melody will fit nicely, experimenting with different non chord tones can have a whole range of effects, from beautiful, to haunting, to downright nasty.


When you know the important goal points to hit, you can now plan to approach them in the most fitting way possible, to the benefit of the song as a whole, the listener, and yourself by improving your writing skills to be more deliberate.


Fundamental #3: Find points of emphasis within the melody

Read these next sentences out loud, and think consciously about the emphasis you are placing on certain words and syllables. How you choose to do this creates context, makes certain points easier to understand, and ultimately makes your voice far more interesting to listen to because it's almost musical.


We do this almost unconsciously when talking, so why not adapt this to melody writing for actual music?


When you find points of interest or a really juicy note within a melody, it should be emphasized. Like the lighting and positioning of a shot in a movie scene, it helps to make this choice more deliberate, expressing its importance to the listener.


You go from kindergarten recorder rendition of Hot Cross Buns to musically crafting a message to have the most possible impact within the song.


Take a moment to sing your melody (even if there are no words) or play it on your instrument. Really focus on how you approach each note, and the focus that you give it. You will start to hear in your mind the notes within the melody that are asking to stand out more. So give them a platform.


Make sure the chords or voicings underneath don’t clash and diminish the effect of the note (or perhaps make them clash more if tension is the desired effect). Try to make the surrounding notes be just that; surrounding notes setting up the more important notes to be emphasized. They are more or less a means to an end, and a stepping stone to the knock out punches.


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