Crafting a catchy and memorable melody is never easy.
Your goal is to create a song that your listeners won’t forget, and it’ll be so contagious that even their friends will get your song stuck in their heads.
But where do you start? And how do you get your melody to line in sync with your chord progression? How can you portray the right emotion with your melody?
Below are eleven songwriting tips to assist you in your melodic voyage.
Read and enjoy the post!
Craft the perfect melody with these 11 songwriting tips
11. Stepwise motions and melodic leaps
Singing the same note repetitively can feel very monotonal, and eventually the listener will get bored.
Stepwise motion (moving up or down one note at a time) makes a song easy to sing along to, and also makes it easy to create a rhythmic groove to a song.
Stepwise motions are most commonly used in verses.
Melodic leaps involve a transition to a note that is more than one note above or below the note previous.
How you use melodic leaps can impact the effect it has on the listener.
Subtle leaps are effective in keeping your listeners interested when you have a long string of the same note.
High impact leaps are those that are 5 notes to an octave higher, and they really excite the listener.
Use occasional leaps in your melodies ranging from subtle to high impact. This is especially effective on emotive words.
10. Main melody range
All Artists want their fans to be able to sing along to their songs.
One way you can ensure this is by keeping your main melody within a range of an octave to an octave and a half.
If you check out the majority of songs out today (not just Pop music), the main vocal range is typically between G3 and C5. Any notes below or above are a rarity during the songs duration.
Just remember, if your melody is too difficult and too complex, listeners may find it difficult to sing along and remember.
9. Climactic moment
Build your melody towards a climactic moment in your song. This could be a high note, a power note, or the main melodic hook.
This is a part of the song that the listener will wait for, rewind and repeat over again because they love it.
A great example is when an Artist will repeat the same line again, but an octave higher.
It’s so simple but it has a huge impact on the listener. Mute the rest of the instruments on the track and just have the vocals booming, and you’ve got yourself a heart stopper!
8. Pitch variances in verses and choruses
When your song is being played, the listener needs to be able to distinguish when the chorus starts after the verse. This is usually done by variances in the pitch.
A chorus may focus on notes higher than in the verse. This will make the chorus feel more important, as it should be. For example a song in C major; the verse may focus on notes G3-D4, and the chorus may focus on notes C4 to A4.
Use this to your advantage when crafting your melody, and pay close attention to the transition from your verse to your chorus.
7. Find a natural rhythm
Allow the rhythm of your lyrics to flow naturally within the rhythm of your melody.
Forcing lyrics into a rhythm that doesn’t quite fit may sound awkward.
Pay close attention to where syllables fall in your rhythm, for example:
I want to be (pause) close to you. I know there’s noth (pause) ing but you.
Even though both have the same amount of syllables, if your rhythm has pauses, your melody may pause mid-word.
6. Repeat melodic phrases
Repeat melodic phrases throughout the song as it will make it easier for the listener to remember your song.
A melodic phrase is a collection of notes that form an idea within a melody. A song will have several melodic phrases, and they’ll be repeated.
This is usually achieved with an ABAB approach. In this approach, lines A have the same melodic phrase, and lines B have the same melodic phrase.
This pattern is commonly used for verses and choruses.
However, this isn’t the only approach you can use. Another example of an approach is AABAAB. In this approach, you have two consecutive A melodic phrase followed by a B melodic phrase which will differ from A.
Remember music creation should be fun and interesting, so don’t hesitate to experiment with different combinations of melodic phrases.
5. Repetition is key
Repeating the same notes too many times can sound boring, however there are a few occasions where this works very well.
Use the same notes on a phrase that expresses determination or strong opinions as it can have a greater impact on the listener.
If the same notes are repeated in a short fiery burst, it can give a dramatic effect, but use sparingly. If you overdo it, it can sound robotic.
4. Sketch out a melody
We all have those days where you know the emotional progression of a song but are struggling to interpret that into notes.
One method is to sketch out a melody.
You can do this by drawing a line showing the highs and lows of emotional stress displayed throughout the lyrics. Draw this out as a graph.
Now experiment with the contours of your graph by adding notes. Use this to craft your melody.
3. Find your melodic rhythm, then add notes
Sometimes I find it easier to read my lyrics using a rhythm that feels natural and tap it out using the same note or a drum beat on a score creator app.
You can then add notes to your rhythm afterwards by altering the notes up or down the scale.
The benefits of this method is that it’s easier to find melodic transitions that works well by tapping out the rhythm first.
One great method to try out is improvising.
Grab your phone, start a click beat, press record, and go for it.
Sing your lyrics at a rhythm that feels natural, and just go with the flow of how the person should feel when singing these lyrics.
When you play back you might hear parts you love that you can expand on.
1. Focus on the chords notes in your melody
If you already have a chord progression and are struggling with your melody, then here’s a handy tip for you.
To ensure that your chords and melody are beautifully in sync, on each prominent beat your melody should be a note from the chord being played.
If you’re playing the chord A minor in a bar, then the vocal melody should include A, C or E on the prominent beats. However, it is worth noting that the root and 5th note of any chord are always the most strongest and distinctive to use on the prominent beats.
This isn’t a strict rule, but when you’re just starting out its a handy guideline to follow initially.
It’s your turn
Crafting the perfect melody doesn’t have to be daunting.
As long as you have your listeners in mind you’ll create something so eargasmic that they’ll put your song on repeat all day.
Take full advantage of these tips, as with practice you’ll find it easier to create a masterpiece.
Good luck, and get creating!