Rush - Spirit of Radio

Comparing Vocal and Instrumental Melodies

In theory, there shouldn’t be a lot of difference between a melody that’s meant to be sung and one that’s meant to be played. Particularly in the pop genres, both kinds of melodies will usually display the following characteristics: The melody will usually move mainly by step (i.e., adjacent notes in a scale) with occasional […]

Rolling Stones

5 Tips For Turning a Bit of a Song Into a Complete Song

Most songwriters start the songwriting process by improvising on ideas. You may have nothing to start with, and so the purpose of that initial improvisation session is to come up with something catchy. Let’s say that you manage to come up with something short but great, something that might serve as an important fragment of […]

Bruno Mars - The Lazy Song

Making the Best Use of Motifs in Your Songwriting

For most songwriters, defining a hook is simple: it’s that catchy bit that makes up the main part of the chorus. It usually comes back over and over because that’s what choruses do — they reappear after every verse, and then again after the bridge. A hook is good if it has a melodic shape […]

Shawn Mendes

The Same Melody From Different Angles

This is something that doesn’t necessarily occur to casual listeners to pop music: the number of times we hear a melody that’s really just the same short 4- or 5-note cell that gets repeated over and over with different chords underneath. Like starting the songwriting process by working out the chords first? There are benefits […]

Calvin Harris

The Power of Patterns In the Writing of Song Melodies

You’ll sometimes see discussions amongst songwriters on the topic of how many notes a good melody should have. In other words, how much of a  range, when you compare the lowest notes to the highest ones, should there be when considering good melodies? History tells us that there’s no good answer to that question, because […]

guitar - keyboard - headphones

Creating Chord Progression Motifs

In music, a motif is a short fragment of music that gets developed and repeated throughout the length of a song. The repetition aspect of a motif makes it similar to a hook. But a hook generally repeats verbatim; it generally sounds the same each time we hear it, like “She loves you, yeah, yeah, […]