Marvin Gaye

The Secret Power of the Melody: “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”

The 1960s hit song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine“, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, was a Motown hit for several groups. Gladys Knight & the Pips released it in 1967, and it went to number 1 on the R&B Singles chart. You’re probably more familiar with the Marvin Gaye version, released in […]

synthesizer keyboards on stage

5 Top Tips for Getting Chords and Melodies to Work Well Together

Whether you come up with the chords and then create a melody, or have a melody that you want to add chords to, you need to be sure that the chords are properly supporting the melody. When chords and melody work well together, you have the happy circumstance that they both sound better than they […]

Singer-songwriter-guitarist

How to Write Song Melodies that Connect With Your Audience

For some songwriters, songwriting seems to be all about writing a great melody. Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Barry Gibb — these are all songwriters for whom the success of their songs is often easily attributable to the quality of the melodies they write. I mention this, because not all great songs need to […]

Songwriter - Guitarist

Fine-Tuning Your Songwriting

I’m a trumpet player, though these days I do more writing and conducting than trumpet playing. Back when I was starting out, I was in final rehearsals for a one-off orchestra I had been hired to play in. I noticed that the principal trumpeter had a small ring of brass — sort of doughnut-shaped –that […]

Derek & the Dominos - Layla

How Many Unique Elements Make a Good Song Tune?

Pop songs are typically 3 or 4 minutes in length. And because this is not a long bit of time we’re talking about, it can be a problem if you put too many ideas together when you write that song. Think of it as a kind of musical “economy.” You’ll use one melody for the […]

Louis Armstrong

What Makes Good Song Melodies Memorable?

A key part of success when it comes to song melodies is writing something that audiences easily remember. If it’s possible to consider beauty and memorability as two separate entities, it’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about a) what makes melodies beautiful, and b) what makes them easy to remember. You’re going to […]