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Beginner Songwriting on Melody is part 10 in a series on How to Write a Song. Melody is arguable the most important part of a song. We'll look at how to add contrast in different song sections both rhythmically and in terms of range.
Some people write amazing melodies by ear and can't read music. Often these songwriters can accompany themselves on piano or guitar. If you can read music you can learn to write your own sheet music using Finale Songwriter.
If you play guitar or piano reasonably well, you can do this. I play guitar, so this is my process of writing a music melody. I am a trained musician, but I always think the most natural melodies come organically by letting your ears and voice explore.
1. Chord Progression: I find a chord progression I like (for a review visit chord progressions 1, chord progressions 2 and chord progressions 3). This could be an existing one or one I have developed that touches all chord functions.
2. Dummy Lyric: I start to hum or sing whatever comes to mind. I often write down "dummy" words to fill space. I don't get hung up on the lyrics that come out. I look for words that roll off my tongue and are easy to sing. I generally finalize the lyrics after I have the melody and music set.
3. Chord Tones: Your ear will gravitate to chord tones 1, 3 and 5, but it's important to hit tensions 2, 4 and 6 as well. These tones add richness to a melody.
If you have no formal training don't worry! Use your instincts. What sounds good? What moves you?
4. Range Variety: In a verse, the melody tends to be the lower notes of the scale. The pre-chorus (if you have one) tends to be slightly higher notes in the scale. The highest notes of a song tend to be in the chorus. Try and save them, this is the climax of the song. Some writers save their highest notes for the bridge. Many writers build excitement this way.
5. Rhyhmic Variety: While you need variety in range of melody from section to section, it's also important to be aware of variety in rhythm of melody as well. For example, in the verse you may have a fast rhythmic melodic phrase. In the chorus you might want to have long sustained phrases.
Hit songs have melodies that are easy for people to sing along to. Don't let your listener get bored! Think about the songs you love. Analyze them! Use them as models. Copy what they do. This is how we learn!
WRITE YOUR OWN SHEET MUSIC
Those of you that are musically trained you may want to write your melody first and are able to build chords around your melody.
You should take a look at Finale Songwriter. It is simply the best and most professional melody and music writing suite that exists for beginner songwriting all the way to advanced songwriting.
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