Written by Gary Ewer, from “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” website.
Gary Ewer is the author of “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” suite of e-books. Download them today, and discover how to turn your songs into hits.
Everyone knows that the more familiar someone is with a song, the more they tend to like it. The effect of familiarity works even (or especially) if you are creating something new. You want to have repeating elements within your song. It makes listeners feel “at home” with it, and they’re more likely to feel good about it. Here’s how you can use your new melody to its best effect.
The idea here is to create an initial melodic shape or idea that can be repeated in various ways throughout your song. Here’s one of many possible ways that might be done:
MELODIC IDEA AS A HOOK:
- Create a short 1 – 2 bar melodic idea that will serve as the start of your chorus.
- Use that short idea as your song intro, repeated, or as is.
- Use that same idea as a mini-bridge between the chorus and verse 2.
- Use the same idea as an ending, or repeated as an outro.
The idea here is that the listener becomes quickly familiar with the melodic idea, and it has the same effect as a landmark does in an unknown city: you feel more willing to explore the unknown city if you’ve got a familiar landmark to keep you from getting lost.
Here’s another way to use melodic shape:
MELODIC IDEA AS A MOTIF:
- A motif is simply a musical shape that is replicated throughout the song, but not necessarily in the exact same way. If it’s repeated exactly, we call it a hook. If you use the idea as an inspiration for other related ideas, it’s called a motif. So create a Verse 1 melody that has a distinctive melodic shape or rhythm.
- Identify one or two distinctive melodic and/or rhythmic ideas that go together to make that melody work.
- Find ways to develop those ideas when creating chorus and bridge melodies. As just one example, if the verse melody consists of two long notes followed by four short notes, try constructing a chorus melody that uses four short notes followed by two long ones.
- If the initial melodic idea consists of a rising leap, try writing a new melody that uses a falling leap.
A motif is less obvious to listeners than a hook. And that’s its charm and its power. The listener is only vaguely aware of a connection between the various melodic ideas throughout the song. As far as their concerned, there’s something that connects it all together without being able to be specific about why it’s all working.
Download all six of Gary Ewer’s songwriting e-books. They’ll show you why great songs work, and what you can do to get your songs working for you.