Robin Gibb once said that a great song is all about a great melody. It really depends on the genre, but most of the time I think he’s right.
When you’ve hooked a listener with a good melody, you’ve given them something to hum — something to remember. A great melody is a powerful way to keep someone coming back to your song.
On track to make songwriting a full-time or part-time career choice? Read “From Amateur to Ace: Writing Songs Like a Pro.” It expands on some of the ideas in “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting,” with chapters like “How Do I Write Songs When I Don’t Feel Inspired”, “How Do I write Good Vocal Harmonies”, and others.
Over the years I’ve written many blog posts that pertain to writing great melodies — how to get them to support the lyric, how to integrate them with chords, and so on.
If you’re trying to improve your melody-writing prowess these days, I’ve listed five articles that I’ve written over the past few years that I hope you’ll find helpful.
And if you’ve discovered your own melody-writing secrets that you’d like to share with others, please reply to this post in the comments below.
1. Making Sure Your Melody and Chords are Cooperating
Summary: So much of how much we like a melody is cultural, based on what we’ve heard all our lives and what we’ve always liked about song melodies. And one of the most important aspects of successful melodies has to do with how it works with the chords.
2. Freewill: When Melody Lines are Bass Lines
Summary: Regardless of genre, it’s not normal for the bass to be playing the melody along with the singer. It’s a distinctive sound when that happens, though.
3. Shaping the Melody In a Verse-Without-Chorus Song
Summary: How do you create a melody that works well in verse-only songs? Are they structured differently from verse melodies that lead to choruses? The short answer to the second question is ‘yes’ — at least most of the time.
4. Making Melody Your Song’s Most Important Ingredient
Summary: As a songwriter, part of making your song’s melody effective is to move your focus back and forth between the melody and the lyric, and making sure that the more emotive parts of your lyric aren’t getting downplayed by a melody moving in the wrong direction.
5. Tips for Developing a Melody-First Songwriting Process
Summary: The great classical masters of composition practically always did a melody-first method for writing music. By doing so, they ensured that melody was front and centre, with no chance of being neglected.
Written by Gary Ewer. Follow Gary on Twitter.
“The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” eBook bundle includes “Writing a Song From a Chord Progression”. Discover the best way to use the chords-first songwriting process.
While I struggle to come up with meaningful lyrics, I must always keep reminding myself … “It’s the melody, stupid!” Most listeners are attracted to a great melody or a catchy hook long before they become intrigued by the lyrics.