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Starting to creating own riffs and music

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Kutsu, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. Kutsu


    Jun 30, 2014

    What is the best thing to do if I want to start writing my own music? Should I learn all the scales or just play random notes with backing track?
  2. RayMan34


    Jan 3, 2014
    Arpeggios (Chord Tones)

    Learn those.
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  4. RayMan34


    Jan 3, 2014
    Heres some basics.

    Start by looking at your chord progression. Start with four bars of four beats.

    Just play the chord roots and work out how you want the bass line to feel. Roots are all over the fretboard, include octaves. Start with them first, you'll get a lot of mileage out of roots if you work with them properly.

    Then when you're happy try, 5ths (the 5th note in the scale). Thats just a start.
  5. Little something on chords and the melody line that needs to be over them, or put another way. Something on melody lines and the chords that need to be put under the melody.


    Music is melody, harmony and rhythm. Those three things should work together. Random selection seldom work.

    This may help:

    The following is a basic format you could use to write any song. Use as much of this as you need.
    Decide on a scale. Yes just one. I sing in D if this is going to be my song I'd write it with D scale notes for the melody and chords from the key of D will give me the harmony. If you do not have any vocalist in mind C is easy - no sharps or flats. OK I want to write a Pop, Rock or Country song so Major scale and major chords will be a good starting point.

    • Decide on a chord progression. Yes one of the cookie cutter progressions will be fine to get started. You can flesh it out later. Since this is my song I'd use a I IV V7 I or D, G, A7, D progression.

    • Now the rest is chicken or egg. I chose lyrics, chords then melody. You may want to go melody then chords and leave lyrics for last. It's your song do it the way you want. The order you take does not matter all that much. However, you should touch on everything that follows. I'll give the lyrics first method.

    • Get the story into verse format. Four line verse is a good format. You will need three verses and a chorus. Chorus is the hook, what you want them singing tomorrow. Rhyme or not up to you. If you are writing an instrumental piece you of course will not have lyrics to anchor your verses, etc. The repeating head (tune) is your anchor now.

    • Place your cookie cutter progression over the lyric words. This is my first draft approach. Start the verse with the I chord - you are at rest to start so the I tonic chord makes since. To get some interest into the chord progression we need to get some tension into the progression so move to the IV chord near the ending of the first line. Continue with the IV into the second line and near the end of the second line bring in the V7 chord. This increases the tension and acts as a climax. Since we have reached climax quickly end the 2nd line with the I chord. You moved the first two lines from I (rest) to IV (tension) to V7 (climax) and then resolved back to the I chord and rest. Repeat this for the 3rd and 4th line. I like to get two V-I cadences into my four line verse. Might as well use that same format for the other verses and what the heck use it for the chorus - remember you are doing a first draft.

    Verse format -- one way -- first two lines bring up a thought then the 3rd and 4th line of the verse react to what was said in the first two lines and then bring that thought to a close so verse number two can bring up another thought.

    • Play that progression and move the chords around to where they match the lyric words. Move them a little one way or the other - your ear will tell you.

    • Now it's melody time. I go to the keyboard for this - at any rate - one melody note per lyric word syllable. Ma-ry and Lit-tle will take two melody notes each. One note per lyric word syllable is a great help when writing melody. This paper on melody writing goes into detail on how to put together a melody line. http://books.google.com/books?id=HtywAAAAIAAJ&dq=Goetschius "Exercises in melody writing"&printsec=frontcover&source=bl&ots=pM82iNcwBT&sig=O2MKaY85Z3tcgTo8A-5AcRHyvn0&hl=en&ei=dk0ySsyVAqWgM4P9qZEK&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q&f=false

    • Which notes. Chord tones. The chord's pentatonic will give you three chord tones and two safe passing notes - more than enough to build a melody that will harmonize with the chords you are using. Yes your melody notes and your chord notes should share like notes - when they do you harmonize both the melody and the chord line. I find knowing the progression first then finding melody notes from within the chords lets me keep the chord progression's journey from rest, tension, climax, resolution and return to rest the verse should travel intact. Now I only have to find harmonizing notes for my melody from the active chord or it's pentatonic. Here is what I do. Recite a lyric phrase and see what chord tone notes sounds best over that phrase. Here is Mary Had A Little Lamb in C; notice it's one melody note per lyric word syllable:

    C.....................................Dm.......... .....C
    Ma-ry had a lit-tle lamb.... Lit-tle lamb... lit-tle lamb.
    E...D...C...D.E..E...E..........D...D..D........E. .G...G

    • That will get you a lead sheet, treble clef, chords and lyrics. A bass clef would be nice or just leave it as a lead sheet and let the bassist compose the bass line - how the chord tones are played - as he/she feels best.
    Sit back open a bottle of your favorite beverage and start on fleshing out your first draft.
    That is just about all that is necessary to write a simple song. As this is a first draft; use just one key. The scale notes are your melody, the chords made from those scale notes are your harmony. Your melody line and your harmony line should share like notes. Chord movement and chord harmonization keep you on track.

    What about rhythm - note duration? Yes that too must be taken into account. Country vs Reggae; rhythm for a Country song will not fit a Reggae song.

    Have fun.​
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2014

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