Writing Melody

Writing MelodyMelody

The melody or tune of a song is what most people hear when listening to music, the chords, drums, bass are very important in supporting the melody but the average person hears the tune. The best melodies are simple, easy to remember and easy to sing along with. However the goal of good melody writing is to make the tune simple but not boring or run of the mill. We will discuss how to write a melody, explain a bit of music theory

(I promise not too much!) behind constructing a tune and how to fit lyrics to melody.

The most common question I receive from ‘non-‘musicians’ is what do you write first, music or words? I like to do both and I would recommend you try both ways. If I’m writing with a collaborator who writes lyrics I would always write the tune to fit the lyrics. Sometimes if you have a chord sequence composing lyrics and melody at the same time is a good way to go. Even a combination of the two will work, remember there’s no hard rules to this. The melody is normally the primary reason a song gets recorded or not so make it the strongest you can.

Writing a Cappella:

A cappella means without musical accompaniment. Writing a cappella means composing melodies in your head and just singing them with the voice. Sometimes writing without an instrument can bring forward the strongest melodies.

As a beginning songwriter you can create songs without playing an instrument. With lyrics and melodies in your head, you can complete a song! How cool is that? Some songwriters who can play guitar or piano make the mistake of strumming some chords and letting the chords lead to the next predictable notes.

People sing the melody not the chords, the number one downfall of new songwriters is first playing chord changes on a keyboard or guitar, and then imposing the melody over the chord progression. Now chords are very important to add harmony which we will talk about a little later but if you don’t play an instrument don’t let that stop you writing great melodies.

Having said that, playing an instrument is very useful and knowing chord changes, scales and simple theory will assist you. Learning popular chord sequences will also be of great benefit.

Keep it Simple and Singable:

The goal of melody writing is to communicate a simple and singable melody that fits a perfect lyric. So how do we write melodies? (here comes the theory part) Say you have a chord sequence C Major-F Major-G Major These chords have the following notes in them;

C Major C-E-G

F Major F-A-C

G Major G-B-D

The scale would be C Major going from C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C when writing the melody for your song, you would select notes from within the chord you were playing at the time. So for example if you were playing a C Chord, the notes you would use would be C, E,or G. You can use notes outside of the chord but as a starting point you would choose the notes in the chord. I like to look at the syllables in the lyrics and decide what notes and rhythm I want to assign to them.

When you begin writing your own melodies try a variety of notes with different rhythms. Have fun with this and learn to rewrite melodies like you would with lyrics

Intervals in melody writing is a useful technique to learn. It will help you pick up new music and give you an understanding of melody. I hear you say what is an Interval? Good question, Intervals are the spaces between notes. So F-C would be a 5th because it’s a 5th in distance. To recognize a perfect fifth is to hum the starting of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; the pitch of the first “twinkle” is the root note and pitch of the second “twinkle” is a perfect fifth above it.

Writing Great Song Titles

Song Titles

Titles are so important when writing songs. The Title is like a great book cover, a great title can capture the listener before he/she has even heard your song and more importantly will help the listener to remember it. It’s the sales pitch for the entire song.

Purposes Of A Song Title

Song titles have to deliver a number of important factors. For example it is good if they can possess some of these qualities:

Evoke Emotions

Evoke Imagery

Be Of Interest

Be Memorable

Make The Reader / Listener Curious

Convey Something Original

Convey Something Universal That Everyone Can Relate To

Tease The Reader / Listener – Not Reveal Everything

Be Imaginative

Use A Small Number Of Words – 5 or less

Contain Or Reflect The Main Lyrical Hook (Importance Depends On Music Genre And Perspective)

1. Noun and Adjective Lists

Write down long lists of nouns and adjectives. Blend words from these lists to create pairs of words. In addition, also blend words within the same lists to get verb-verb and noun-noun word pairs. Select the ones you like and develop those word pairs or use those word pairs to create new word pairs based giving lists that go in new directions.

2. Research Other Media

Do some research. Read some online articles, newspaper articles and magazine articles etc. and use them to generate seed ideas for new titles and song lyrics.

Common Phrase’s that people say have not all been used in songs. Even phrases that are said wrong can be turned into great Song Titles ‘A Hard Days Night’ was Ringo’s remark/comment said to John Lennon and we know how that turned out.

A play on words or opposites works pretty well too, one of my own songs ‘I Mean To Be Nice’ is a good example.

3. Prose On A Topic

Choose a topic you are interested in writing a song about.

Proceed to write some free-flowing text inspired by that topic.

Explore any emotions and emotional perspectives, scenarios and conclusions that the story implies.

Use that text to then create phrases and word pairs to use as a seed idea for creating a title.

Great song titles will always have one or two of these ingredients;

Thought Provoking

Word Combinations

Visual Imagery

Humor

General Creativity

Connection to Events and/or People

Common Tools For Songwriters

There are a few basic tools that can be of help when creating titles and other aspects of writing a song:

A Pocket Sized Notepad

Pen, Pencil and Eraser

Post It Notepad

A Rhyming Dictionary (online and an offline book)

A Thesaurus (online and an offline book)

A Recording Device That You Can Speak / Sing Into

For the most part, if you’re searching (as you should be) for a way to say something in a fresh and unusual way, you’re likely to arrive at an imaginative title in the process. Concept and title are so wedded that, particularly in Country music, many writers don’t even begin to write a song until they have a great title/concept. It’s a very common and practical way to start. Sometimes, if you have the right title, the song practically writes itself.

So to recap – start with the basic concept that you want to form the song around, the mood, the voice, the scene, the emotion etc. Then find that great-stand-out-Title that will grab the listener by the eyes before the ears! A great title will in fact help you write a better song, from my experience if I have a great title to start from I want the music and lyrics to be great too.

Professional Tips on Mixing and Mastering Audio

Music mixing is a task that forms an important part of music creating. The procedure of penning down the lyrics, creating a tune, syncing the lyrics to the tune created, recording it and finally mixing and mastering it makes it a complete music track. Music mixing is often the task of professionals who know the technicalities involved in creating a perfect song. They are the ones who use modern software allowing them to have perfectly mixed songs at the end of the entire procedure. These are performed at specialised studios, but several companies specialise in online mastering and mixing where there is no need for you to go to a studio and instead get professional results virtually.

Any professional who is an expert in mastering and mixing audio, know the right ways to have a final mastered sound piece. Mastering too requires a particular procedure which when followed would give the best results. Here are a few steps that you could follow that come direct from the mouths of professionals.

• Choose fresh music – It is always advisable to bring about freshness to the music that you record. While you record music, ensure that you use the best devices to record it as the recorder plays a significant role in the final product. There has to be a freshness in the audio that you record as the mastering would get tougher if the recording is of poor quality.

• Learn not to appreciate your work – You may no doubt have the best-recorded audio but at times you need to be critical of your job. It helps in analysing the minute details and looking out for loopholes. You may appreciate your work as eventually it is your creation any if you do not find any loopholes in it, you can get someone who may critically analyse your work and provide you with some help.

• Match the volume – Imagine listening to a song where the volume of the voice recording is lower than that of the instruments that make up the tune. It would sound annoying to the ear, and therefore, you should ensure the fact that the volumes of the audio and the instruments are equal and not overpowering each other.

• Choose quality equipment – You may own a professional mixing console and the best mastering software that can help you mix your music well. They need not be the most expensive equipment but should be able to bring out the best in your sound recording.

Important Tips to Mastering Music at Home

The times when you have freshly composed a melody, you may feel it to be the best, but it isn’t the best yet. It involves an efficient procedure where you need to blend the melody next. After a certain point, you would feel irritated by the music mixing methods and happiness that originated from making music would vanish. Composing a tune is fine but mastering it is a task in itself which is tough. There are several experts out there who come up with wonderful ideas on music mastering but not always can you take help from those tips to create a mastered music.

You could blend the ideas and tips to make an easier way out for yourself if you seriously think of pursuing music mixing as an option. It helps you understand the techniques well rather than following someone blindly and not availing results that are satisfying. Here are a few expert tips that is made by blending several ideas from the experts to ensure that you can master music all by yourself without much of help from others.

• Ensure that you listen to more than one genre- You ought to listen to more than one type of music to make your sense of taste dipped in variety. It will show you how to create music without you being deliberately interested in it. You don’t have to like what you listen to as there are numerous things to listen to with every song that you hear. Technicalities such as blending the voice recording with the music, beats, notes, etc. can be learnt by critical evaluation each proceeding and simultaneously understand what the music is made of.
• Erase terrible quality sound – The primary lesson at any music school or is, whether you have a recording, and it is awful quality, and it doesn’t soothe your ear, and you are not content with it, discard it and get yourself a fresh one. Even if people claim that modern software can help you bring perfection to even the worst sounds, you will get terrible results if you hear them carefully.

• Complete the song before blending – It is important to complete the recording completely and then start the mixing and mastering process. Mixing and adding a different texture every time you pause with the recording would affect the recording quality and thus make you confused with the throw of voice after every break. While you apply the techniques of mixing in it as and when you stop the recording, you would notice the fact that there is a change in tonal quality if not the music.