Here is a technique you can use to create and compose melodies. All you need is a few everyday items to create an unlimited number of melodic ideas. This will help you when you need to generate new ideas. Here is what you will need to get started:
- Staff paper to record notes
- Container to toss dice and coins
- Instrument to play the melody
- Optional – Notation Software
A die has six side. A pitch value is assigned to the corresponding number on the die. When the dice are tossed the result will be a number on the top face. Here is how to assign a pitch to the number
The Pentatonic Scale
Because there are only six sides the pentatonic scale is used. This will simplify the melody because you don’t have to worry about what to do with the leading tone or the tricky 4th note of a major scale. Major scales have two adjacent semitones. To make create a standard pentatonic scale simply remove the lower note of each semitone pair. Here are the note you will use on a music staff.
Every melody needs to have a rhythm. The coins are used to create simple rhythm patterns. Since a coin has two sides, head and tails, there can be only two choices for a rhythm note. Here is the coins rhythm assignment…
The 4 Measure Phase
A standard length of a musical phase is 4 measures. For this exercise you will use the 4 measure phase as a starting point. There are two notes that are already filled in the staff. The first one is the note G. This is a sub-dominate note that is often used to close the first series of notes. The next note that is already filled in is the C note. This is the tonic of the scale. It is a good idea to end a phase on the tonic. The tonic is the most stable and restful pitch on the scale. Think of it as home. Here is a sample 4 measure staff
How to Compose Melodies Using This Technique
- First of all gather all your supplies which include dice, coins, paper, pencil, container and instrument.
- Next, place all the dice and coins into the container.
- Then toss the pieces inside the container onto a flat surface like a tabletop.
- Now line up all the dice
- Then line up all the coins
- Then match up one coin to one die.
- Now going from left to right get the rhythm values from the coins. Heads is a quarter note and tails is an eighth note.
- Now get the pitch values from each of the dice.
- Then write the notes on the staff paper.
- Play the melody on your instrument of choice or enter the notes into your notation software.
- Finally listen for pleasing and interesting combination of notes.
- Keep in mind you may need to do this several times before you get a melody you like.
Compose Melodies – What Next
Once you have found a melody you like, you can then expand on the melodic idea. Use standard composing techniques like, repetition, sequencing, inversions and retrograde to develop the original melodic phase.
In conclusion, There it is a fun and simple why to compose melodies using everyday household items. If you came up with any interesting melody phases it would be fun to share them in the comments below.