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Melody troubles...

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by WhiteKnuckles, May 4, 2010.

  1. My current project may be hitting a bit of a rut in creating melodies for some of the newer songs we're working on...so we're all trying to come up with some fresh ideas. I know just enough theory to be dangerous, but not enough that a melody or solo would just pop out of a progression. I can create something passable, but it always comes out a bit pedestrian...and I'd really like to step it up.

    So I was wondering...how would you approach creating an interesting melody for a song?
  2. Understanding that the melody line and the bass line should share some of the same notes. Here is what I do for what ever that is worth. I gather my melody notes from chord's pentatonic scale.

    C major pentatonic = C, D, E, G, A The C, E and G are the chord tones and the D and A are two safe passing tones.

    To dicide which notes I go to the keyboard. That C chord is being played over or under a lyric word. Which note sounds best with the lyric word?

    One note per lyric word - understand Ma-ry and Lit-tle take two melody notes. The lyric will be in phrases, your melody should flow with that phrase, i.e. make melodic phrases.

    For me - works best on the keyboard and I like to tie melody notes to the lyrics being used. I start with the story that leads to a verse and lyric format, that leads to the chord progression and that leads to the melody. That may not work for you - start with what ever works best for you, it's a chicken or egg thing. When you finish melody, harmony and rhythm have to flow together.

    As long as the C chord and the pentatonic notes - C, D, E, G and A are harmonizing well and good, however, when the melody/lyric move over another chord then your melodic phrase should contain the notes of that chord's pentatonic, etc., etc.

    Melody is not a stream of notes, there need to be pauses - time for the melody to breath - two notes close together then a leap of at least a 3rd seem to work well - time those with your lyric flow. Those leaps and what you do after the leap seem to make the difference, IMHO.

    http://www.archive.org/details/exercisesinmelo01goetgoog Talks about leaping.

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15818.html Talks about wave action.

    Both add interest to the melody line.

    Good luck.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    also, listen to your favorite melodies and transcribe them. and don't be afraid to be simple when creating melodies. some of these "pedestrian" melodies can sound quite moving in the right context.

    also, if you have any singing skills or other instrument skills, use them. switching to another instrument or singing can sometimes help inspire you to do something you wouldn't think of to do on bass.

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