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Writing Melodies - The Beginner Musician & Songwriter's Guide To Melody Writing Success

Updated: Sep 11

Do you want to know the 3 simple steps every beginner needs to create a catchy hook?

If you're a musician or songwriter who wants to create a catchy hook without boring melodies then you need to read this immediately to get started correctly with your writing melodies efforts.


Step #1: Start as simple as possible


It all starts somewhere, so if you are coming from nothing, start with a single note. Stairway to Heaven, Mozart’s Symphony in G Minor, or Beyonce’s Single Ladies didn’t just fall out of the sky fully complete.


A building isn’t completed all at once, it's built in stages. And even before that, there are plans and blueprints, and those start from a simple concept or idea.

Take a small idea and develop it. Even starting with a simple two note figure could lead to incredible and unexpected results.


Step #2: Aim for chord tones


Use the chord tones as guides or targets to hit. Worry about the in between notes later.

When you plan a journey, you have an end goal in mind as the destination.


However, on the way there, you will need to hit several points along the way. Maybe to pick up some important items, or to access a better shortcut. You need to position yourself along the way to get to the right checkpoints, or the whole journey can get derailed pretty quickly.


Which chord tones should you aim for? Use your discretion, but here is some very general advice to at least start with:

  • The Root and the 5th of the chord are the most stable, but also the least interesting. They can give a bit of “finality” to a phrase, but don’t rely on them too much.

  • The 3rd and the 7th give more feeling to a melody by revealing more about the character or the chord. You wouldn't be wrong to hit a 3rd in the melody on every chord.

  • The 2nd, 4th, and 6th, (also the 9, 11, and 13) are “non chord tones” but can still be used. Choosing one over the other when approaching a chord tone for an emphasized melody note can make a big difference. Also can create a ton of interest and colour when used in the right circumstances.

Basically, don’t be afraid to experiment and try things.


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Step #3: Add embellishment and color tones


Now that a rough framework is coming together, you can start to go back and fill in the gaps and make things more interesting.


A painter will cover the canvas with several different layers, sometimes not reaching the optimal desired effect until the final touches are added. A melody is similar in its need for retouching, reworking, and adjusting until the whole thing works.


If you pick out the important notes that need to be emphasized before, this step is probably the easiest and the most fun. Find different ways to make subtle changes to the structure of the melody so that it isn’t the same the whole way through. It could be changing one approach note, or adding a little rhythmic pattern or trill, or trying some of the Extensions as an option to add some interest.


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