Melody In Songwriting - The Basics
When it comes to melody in songwriting there are several things that are constant, whether you are writing melody for vocals, guitar, piano, or anything else.
The aim here is for you to learn the basics of melody, giving you a better understanding of how the process works.
This knowledge will then help you craft catchy, memorable and infectious melodies.
So what are the key factors that we need to know about writing melodies?
Melody In Songwriting - 3 Key Factors:
The first thing you should know is that you are going to need some level of repetition when writing your melody. You do, however, need to be careful not to be too repetitive. There is a bit of a balancing act to be performed here, but for your melody to really work, you need it to be catchy without being annoying. Therefor, you need to combine repetition with variety.
Some things you can do to make a melody repetitive while keeping up the variety include:
- Changing up the dynamics of the notes. Things like increasing or decreasing the volume of a note at different points in the melody will help to make it unique while repeating the same note.
- Make use of harmonic changes. For example, if you are writing on a guitar, throw in some slides. Try using chromatics and ghost notes as well.
- Change up the rhythm a bit. Increase or decrease the speed as you go.
- Alternate what instrument is playing the melody.
- Use sound effects.
Another consideration would be that you want your melody to flow along in a pattern of ups and downs. If it just steadily climbs up or down, you are basically just getting a scale, which is okay for a solo, but doesn't sound nice for the melody of the majority of the song.
2. The Shape Of The Melody
Most melodies tend to follow a pattern of ups and downs, rather than just randomly jumping all over the place. This gives a melody a nice, smooth, flowing sound. The more technical way for describing this is:
- Conjunct motion occurs when one pitch of a melody moves step-wise to another. This has a natural flowing sound. Conjunct motion occurs more often than disjunct motion.
- Disjunct motion occurs when one pitch of a melody leaps to another.
Generally speaking, melodies stay within one octave. Jumping between octaves too much takes away from how catchy the melody is and borders on making it annoying.
3. The Length Of The Melody
Finally, you have to consider the length of the melody. If it is too long, it is going to get too repetitive and become annoying to the listener. If it is too short, it isn't going to have enough repetition to be memorable. There is no set amount of time it should last, it varies by the song, but you need to make sure it sounds and feels right.
So when it comes to melody in songwriting, just keep these key factors in mind as you write and before you know it you will be writing melodies like the pros!