Today I’m going to be talking about how you write a melody, hopefully how you write a good melody.
And I’m first of all going to be talking about the sort of theory behind it, such as it is, and then give you some practical tips which you will be able to use in your music.
So, within one hour of now, hopefully, you will have written a tune you couldn’t write now. That’s quite a big ask.
But I hope that by giving you one or two straightforward pushes in the right direction, you’ll be able to come up with something new and interesting and different, which you’re not currently doing or trying to write a tune better than your writing one at the moment.
Now, to my writing, Melody writing is something I’ve looked at before, and I will definitely be coming back to it again because there’s no 110-minute video, 20-minute video, which is going to crack this because it’s, in some respects, a lifelong study
But I do have one secret.
And that is why I’m in the car on my way to a shop, and I’ll explain what it is.
Those people have no idea they just appeared on YouTube.
Oh my goodness.
They walked out the load, they waved.
No, they’re on YouTube.
So here is the secret ingredient.
You can’t write a great melody without a Garibaldi biscuit.
So, without Garibaldi biscuits, let’s get back to the studio and get stuck in.
And so equipped with the sunglasses of doubt, because when it comes to melody writing, we’re going to need these.
And the biscuits of creative inspiration.
Let’s get stuck in now.
There are things in life which I’m really really bad at, like changing duvet covers, nightmares, trying to put that springy sort of green screen things back in their folder, yuppie things.
That’s a nightmare too, and actually doing nothing.
I’m very, very bad at doing nothing.
But fortunately, one thing I’m not too bad at is writing tunes.
And that’s what we’re talking about.
That’s a bit of a thumb up to that.
Let’s start, therefore, with the first rule of tune writing.
There are no rules.
This is a common problem. What people do is they listen to a lot of good tunes, think about what these tunes have got in common, and proceed by step. Therefore, a logical fallacy.
If I write a tune that proceeds by the base step, it will be a good melody.
Wrong, there are millions of really bad melodies which follow rules.
And therefore rule If you want a rule, which is a useful thing for getting to a finish point, the rule is not going to help you.
So what I’d like to do is refer you to Captain Balboa, from Pirates of the Caribbean, when he was talking about the pirate code. The code is more or what you’d call a guideline.
It’s the natural rules.
What we’re looking at today is more guidelines, the rules, but there are guidelines.
And the bit of melody writing I’m going to focus on today is repetition and variation.
So, first of all, we’ll look at the theory.
And then I will put my money where my mouth is.
Why put a credit card in your mouth guy?
It’s like one of those really literal stock image things where it says, you know, network, a man standing with lots of no way outside and things like that.
No, don’t be a literal guy.
Let us get the show on the road, casting off the sunglasses of doubt, and repetition and variation.
That’s what’s at the heart of this style of tune writing, which is really based around motifs.
Let’s look very briefly at an attune with which I suspect you’re familiar by a master of tune writing.
Okay, it’s the Imperial March.
You can see Darth Vader, you want my son or whatever.
Okay, now, how does that tune work?
Let’s look at the motif. It is not very complicated.
But what he does there is, if we take that basic motif, break it down into two halves, one is the tonal half.
And the other is rhythmic.
If you start by playing that motif, without the rhythm, it’s almost unrecognizable.
I can’t; no Darth Vader is marching towards me there may well, whereas if you just play the rhythm, I’d argue that there’s more Darth Vader in that rhythm than there isn’t the time.
So what I’m saying is that it isn’t just the notes you play, but the rhythm is a vital part of making your motif.
So then what does he do, this master of craftsmanship for whom the sunglasses, no doubt, never go anywhere near his forehead?
You repeat the motif.
But he starts Okay, we’re in SEMA. I put this in C minor, so it’s easier to understand what’s going on.
He repeats the motif.
So that’s the first time, now the second time you repeat it, he starts on G, which is the dominant of C minor.
So he’s starting on the top note of a C minor triad.
But actually, then what he does is he comes down keeping the same rhythm.
But he comes down in a flat minor chord.
So he’s playing with the chord shape as much as Okay, so you can hear that it’s the same motif, but he’s changing one element and leaving other elements the same.
So you’re changing the order of the pitches where it starts.
You keep those three same notes, but then, but because the rhythms are the same, it sounds like you’re getting the element of repetition, without boredom, because let me pull on the sunglasses of doubt if you just went.
Even a great opening can turn into a rubbish tune.
If you don’t add that variation, just repetition by itself.
I won’t do it.
Just repetition by itself won’t do it.
Just shut up guy.
So there we have it.
So far, so good.
But how you say to yourself, how, Mr.
Mitchell, am I going to apply this to my own music?
It’s a very good question.
And that’s what we’re going to come to do next.
Because I think there’s enough faffing about as we say.
It may be time to embark on writing some tunes.
Let’s see how we get.
This kind of thing is exactly what we do in some detail.
In this course, how to write music is my online course that takes you through every step of the process, how to get going with core progressions, chin writing, developing and arranging your music, six hours of exclusive video tutorials, of course, text packed with tips, and a supportive online community
Get more out of your music, and sign up today.
The way we’re going to start this is we’re just going to start playing looking for a motif. Most motifs you’re looking between, so as a rule of thumb, 4567 notes, some do that.
Now, I will play loads of these little motifs in-game.
It’s not that they’re wrong.
It’s not what sometimes it is.
It’s not that they’re bad.
Sometimes it is.
It’s that I just have not tonight them and this is an important one.
The X Factor in writing tunes music, in general, is your taste.
It’s what you like.
And you are the filter through which all this music passes and you make these selections.
So a lot of the time, it’s your taste that shapes the final product.
So there’s nothing wrong with any of these little motifs, they just don’t ring my bell.
Oh, I know what’s wrong.
We’re great men struggling with basic package shock.
I can’t Oh, that wasn’t on the agenda.
So I’m gonna have to cut into this.
Otherwise, I’m never gonna write anything any good today.
My secret ingredient right now is thinking and that’s the secret of writing a great tune.
I mean, it sounds a little bit like Little House on the Prairie or something that is such a Western Corporation.
Now what you’ve noticed happening here already, and oh, Blimey, creative inspiration, stock holdings.
Know, I’m gonna take off the sunglasses now. Can I think we’re heading right?
Now, this is a very common tune structure that you can use.
So, so far, you’ve got your four or five-note note motif.
Hope you’re playing this at home.
You’ve given it a bit of rhythmic interest.
It’s okay, we got that.
Now, we’re going to give this tune structure and the easiest structure in the world and the one which you’ll see all over the shop is phrase one ends in called one.
Phrase two ends on the dominant, which in this particular case is going to beg because we’re in C.
Okay, then we repeat phrase one again.
Back to the tonic, back to C, then we’ve got to have a final phrase, which brings us back down there.
So you got phrase one, which ends up on tonic, which is the home chord which is C phrase two, which takes you to the dominant phase three, which takes you back to the home and then something which rounds the whole thing off different to the other two.
Okay, that is the shape of an awful lot of tunes.
And you can use that shape.
And you can, there are all kinds of things you can do to make it more interesting.
But okay, so let’s look back at our tune.
Now, Western, I’ve gone to code three, which is E minor.
Now, this is going to be flat here. If I could be flat, that’s called four or four.
If I’m in C, code four is the F code for being fat.
And then down to code five, that is about if I’m gonna write a Western detergent detergent detergent.
Enough, move on, move on, move on, so that you can start to see the way. Okay, how else could I vary this tune?
Because that’s just one Whoa, whoa.
How are you very good, how you develop it is kind of the fun kicks in.
So all I’ve done there is rather than going up to F, I’ve gone.
And then I’ve moved chord-wise, I’ve gone to call three, which is E minor.
So I’ve started on the set moving prey this motif into a minor mode.
Okay, right, start again. Let’s do another one.
Better pull on these again. I’m not sure this is gonna work.
I mean, I know this can be slightly off-putting because I’ve done this for a very long time.
And my brain is sort of directly wired to the keyboard, which is really useful.
So I can think of tune in it sort of happens, which saves an awful lot of hassle. It doesn’t always work, but it sometimes does.
And I know a lot of us struggle with the keyboard playing thing or the improvisational thing.
I mean, so you don’t need to do that, you can.
You can pick up the phone and do that.
I mean, but more often than not, I’m sort of fine.
It’s fine, but it’s nothing that raises the forehead.
Then, let’s transpose it up to the chord for F.
Okay, shall I explain, sorry.
So it’s a very simple little mode.
It’s got a rhythmic identity, it’s got a melodic identity.
Now what I was doing here, this is, okay, so so I’m going up to so I’m walking that g up.
So it goes.
This is a chord of G, G, B, D, okay, and then raising the root.
So it goes flat, the natural D.
So you are okay.
That’s different, but better.
If I had, if I had big, if I had any hair, big hair.
If I was called Bob processing, that was a happy little accident.
I like that.
I like it, because it’s sort of palindromic.
It’s got a nice shape.
And actually, shapes are quite important with tunes.
Do you know what it sounds like?
Do you remember chariots of fire without Jesus running in slow motion on the beach, as they achieve it’s that kind of tune?
What do you think?
If you want help with composition, music technology, sample libraries, bring it all together so you can write better music, better songs, then subscribe, because this is what we do all the time and think the little tinkly Bell, and then you’ll get notified, okay?
There are lots of ways this tomb could have gone; it just happens to have gone in a slightly Chariots of Fire sort of way.
But if I do this, and that definitely deserves some sense of doubt.
Oh, you can’t just drop creativity on the floor.
What are you thinking guy, complete banana?
But I think you’ll see that the biscuits of creativity, inspiration, definitely work.
So let me just sum all this up, then there are no rules.
There are guidelines.
And right at the heart of a memorable tune is repetition and variation.
There’s infinite subtlety in there.
And you can pick that apart from weeks.
The harmony of your tune, the chord progression, is in constant conversation with the melody itself.
The rhythmic identity of your motif is just as important as the pitches you use.
So start with a small number of notes and create a motif with a rhythmic identity.
And then find ways of bearing.
The easiest way is to start with a phrase which ends up on chord one.
Then repeat the phrase but make it end on-call five.
Then repeat the first phase which ends up on call one again.
Then they find a way of producing a new phrase, which then ends up back on call one that that little pattern has been repeated, you know, for millennia, and you’ll hear it pretty much every day on the radio.
So I hope you found that useful.
I’d love to know what you think is your favourite biscuit, in the comments somberly underneath, of course.
And I’d like to hope that you can just follow your instinct.
Cast off the sunglasses of doubt and write a tune you’ll be proud of CSA.