Writing Melodies Is Now Easier Than I Imagined!
In the many arranging classes I have attended over the years, harmony is mentioned a hundred times more than rhythm. Which is mentioned a thousand times more than melody.
Can you see how melody is at the end of this food chain?
In the many songwriting forums I have checked out lyrics are discussed a thousand times more than chords which is discussed a thousand times more than rhythm which is discussed a hundred times more than melody.
Can you see how melody is at the far end of this food chain?
According to hit songwriter, Jason Blume, the The First Four Steps to Songwriting Success Are:
- Developing successful song structures
- Writing effective lyrics
- Composing memorable melody
- Producing successful demos
You can guess which of the four steps got the least detailed attention in Jason’s excellent
In his great book Melody in Songwriting: Tools and Techniques for Writing Hit Songs , Jack Perricone begins redressing that balance. His sections on melodic rhythm were useful. But it just left me thirsting for more melodic rhythm references that I could use. His sections on melodic contour are a useful introduction. But something told me that there are far more melodic contours than the four he mentions. So when I added up all these references, they told me heaps about lyrics and harmony and very little about rhythm and even less about melody. Which actually made the process of adding melody to my mountain of lyrics, that I’d accumulated over some years, no easier for me.
But thankfully, that has changed.
I have now found a place that taught me how to speak rhythm, using simple English vowel sounds that I have grown up with all my life. They base their approach on the premise that people generally do not read what they do not talk.
Notice how you can’t read languages you can’t speak?
So I am talking six rhythm vocabularies now that I didn’t know a fortnight ago. And writing the rhythms like a native. This firm grasp of rhythm has allowed me to get a better grip on song form.
Remember song form?
Form is what turns my formless ideas into a song. Being able to talk and write rhythm—in both standard English and notation—allows me to add rhythm my lyrics so that they sing. The rhythm learning resources are backed up with volumes of Rhythm thesauruses. You want a six note rhythm to go with a six syllable lyric? No problem! Take your pick from one of six vocabularies and scores of thesauruses.
Talk about melodic rhythm heaven.
The next thing I am learning about is melodic contour. Anecdotal research hypothesis that contour is more important to the majority of the listening public than exact interval or scale? Anecdotal evidence is the number of record and CD owners who can’t sing the tune of their songs. But they can sing the contours. When the melody goes up their voice goes up too. When the melody goes down they imitate that direction. When the melody stays the same, they can imitate that too! Assuming this hypothesis is useful, then songwriters should be paying more attention to contour than to chords or scales.I have found a massive online melodic contour library.
I’ve learned about 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6 note contours.
And they are all are organized into indexed, easily referenced, Thesaurus volumes.
Got an UDDUD melody and you want a variation on it?
No problem. Just look up the UDDUD contour section of the Six Note Contour Thesaurus System and take your pick from the hundreds of alternatives on offer. While others give lip service to the contour mantra, this place spells out the detail of all the contours an aspiring melody writers could use.
Another dimension of melodic pitch is melodic span.
Span just means the gap between the lowest and highest note of any melodic phrase. Most music listeners are not vocal performers and so rarely need to sing across a span of nine notes. The majority are comfortable in the one to six note range.
Which span should I write for?
That’s not big drama anymore. Because I have a reference of all the melodic spans (between one and nine notes) I can find whatever span I want and write a melody based on that. Melodic contour and melodic span are hardly talked about. If melody is hardly talked about, then melodic rhythm, melodic contour and melodic span is talked about even less. But not at melody writers All they talk about there is melodic rhythm, rhythm density, melodic contour and melodic span.
All they talk about there is melody, melody and melody. And melody writing, melody writing and melody writing. Which makes melody writing so much easier for me.
Melody is King
If you are seeking a melody writers nirvana, then you might be in luck. If you have a mountain of lyrics that you need to write melodies for but don’t know where to start, your first step may be here.If you’ve discovered the limitation of writing melodies to guitar chord progressions, then your melodic expansion may have just arrived.
Because there is now a place to go where all they talk is: melody, melody and melody. Where all they talk is melody writing, melody writing and melody writing.Where they love talking about melodic rhythm, rhythm density, melodic contour, melodic span and other melodic secrets.
This is the place for melody nerds, melody nutters, melody enthusiasts, melody evangelists, melody missionaries, melody promoters, melody converts, melody fanatics, melody dreamers, melody lovers, melody fans and melody believers! This is the place where melody is king, queen, prince, dictator, president, prime minister and conductor! This place is the number one melody writing site for songwriters.
The primary focus here is melody, melody and nothing but the melody!
Melody is regarded at the levels of melodic event and melodic phrase. A melodic phrase is a sequence of melodic events. Each event consists of rhythm and pitch. The two most important dimensions of melodic phrases are also rhythm and pitch. The most important dimensions of melodic rhythm are density, balance and movement.
The most important dimensions of melodic phrase pitching are contour and span. At the number one melody writing site for songwriters, they hold that the most important melody writing skills are being able to:
- talk six rhythm vocabularies fluently
- write across ten rhythm densities
- write across sixteen melodic densities
- write across four melodic contour densities
- write across seven melodic span densities
- write your own lead sheet
This site is not geared to melody theory. It is geared to helping melody writers write a melody a week, month in month out. After that they pull out all stops to enable you to write a melody a day. So that you can create money making, melody catalogs and sustain a professional songwriting career.
Well, if those last four paragraphs have glazed your eyes over I can understand that.Mine were too. But after talking a rhythm vocabulary for only a couple of hours, I was
actually writing rhythm and music, like I’d been writing and reading it for a couple of years.
Now I was now able to put my lyrics to rhythms–which I could write in either standard English and or music notation.I felt great because the melodic rhythms took my lyrics closer to a melodic phrase.
By the way, the rhythm learning resources are backed up with Volumes and volumes of Rhythm Thesauruses. You want a six note rhythm to go with a six syllable lyric? No problem! Take your pick from one of six vocabularies and the biggest Rhythm Thesaurus library published to date.
The majority are comfortable in the one to six note range. Whether I have a Tom Petty or Mariah Carey voice in mind, deciding which span to write for is not big drama anymore. My reference of all the possible melodic span melodies (between one and nine notes) allows me to easily find whatever span I want, and write a melody based on that. Not surprisingly, this Melodic Span Library is the largest and most complete one ever published.
About The Author.
Taura Eruera is the webmaster and owner of Melody Writers. He has written scores of books on Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, Guitar and Melody Writing. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand.