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Thread: How do you come up with a melody?

  1. #1
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    Red face How do you come up with a melody?

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    This thread is going to be a little tricky...

    OK I have the ability to wrote stories, poems, even song lyrics. No problem there. I imagine that asking a musician how they come up with their melodies is like someone asking me how I come up with a story. Really this things just pop into our heads from some outside source. But I was hoping there might be a few things I could do to coax a melody out of my noggin'. So if you have any advice for me I'm all ears.

    Now I do get the occasional melody that just pops in. Unfortunately it seems as if my melodies are more advanced than my knowledge of the program I'm using, FL Studio. Been harder than I thought taking my audio recordings of words and melodies and finding the actual notes. Not very well trained as a musician here. Can barely read sheet music, am a n00b at music theory and DAWs in general, and my voice needs serious training. Working on all of this. But I just want to sit down and plunk out a tune, just something simple, you know? Not many of the great artists of the past could read and write music as well as play an instrument before the urge to sing came to them. They developed their talents along the way. This is my approach here. Just feeling a little lost.

    I have all the needed prerequisites as far as I know. I can gyrate to a beat, so I'm feelin' it, I can sing and not sound like a bullfrog attempting to impress a mate, I can write lyrics, tunes do occasionally find me even if they are further along in my musical development than I am and I even understand the basics of making a video. So what can I do to increase my patience with myself, ease melodies out easier and put notes to these words I'm writing? My genre will fall somewhere in the gray area of RnB, Hip Hop, Dance Pop and Nu Metal. Probably have a spiritual or romantic message.

    No money for other programs, training, etc. No people or connections to help me, all by myself here. I have to make do with what I have. I am about to hit the road and go out alone, bringing only my voice with me, so if anyone has any use for someone with my limited skills but serious potential PM me with your pitch and if I like what I hear I'll pedal my way over to you!

    Well thanks for reading! Your help is very much appreciated!
    - DreamBliss
    Last edited by DreamBliss; 05-23-2012 at 06:48 AM.
    Let your heart show you what to do and let your mind show you how to do it.
    Follow your heart not your mind!

  2. #2
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    tips for melodies:

    - start slow... especially if your ears are new.
    here's a very basic procedure that you can apply and make more difficult as you advance.

    "Mary Had a Little Lamb"
    - sing the first line
    - find the notes on the keyboard
    - write it down (via traditional or your own method of notation)
    - repeat this process until the song is complete
    - analyze the patterns
    - clearly articulate your observations (using your stellar writing skills), so they are transferrable
    - use one or all of your observations as direction, motivation or a starting point for your new song

    few things to keep in mind with melodies:
    - catchy (sing a few different ones. go away for a few hours. do you remember one? if so, keep moving with that one.)
    - short and sweet
    - repetition (note, lots of songs repeat a line twice and create a variation the third time... little lamb, little lamb, lit-tal lamb)
    - variation
    - question and answer...
    (forgive the random example but,) check out the track j.r. rotem produced for leona lewis, "Better In Time"...
    Q: 'It's been the longest winter without you' <ends higher than>
    A: 'I didn't know where to turn to' <here where ends lower>
    "ahhaaahhhaaa" (answer to entire phrase)

    [1] Q: 'If you didn't notice'
    A: 'You mean everything'
    [2] Q: 'Quickly I'm learning'
    A: 'to love again'
    [3] Q: 'All i know is,
    A: 'Imma be ok' (melody is variation third time)

    etc.

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    Sample or play catchy riffs

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    You really just need an ear for it, just hit piano keys. Start with one, hit another, if it sounds off, try another, and just keep doing that. It's really easy to tell when you're off, I think, it just sounds wrong. If you get some basic four note progression, layer keys on top of it that "go" with it, again you generally will know if it sounds off, it really does make a distasteful noise when you hit to unagreeable keys.

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    One thing I do if I get stuck trying to make a melody is to make a very simple pattern and then add a delay. Then Ill play around with delay settings until I get something that sounds cool.

    Professional Mixing and Mastering - www.sound-wright.com

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    Melody for me has always been a kind of "feel" thing especially cause I hate my melodies to hit exactly on the beat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3ternal View Post
    Melody for me has always been a kind of "feel" thing especially cause I hate my melodies to hit exactly on the beat.
    I agree, i hate those robotic one two melodies but they work sometimes lol.

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    melodywise, what i used to do is hum the first note of the melody while moving the note up and down in the piano roll then once i had it do the same for the rest bar by bar until the whole melody is complete. id make something basic then add to it as it played over and over. id always have a basic kick hat clap loop playing under it so i could hear if it was in time.
    nowadays i can make em by working around chord progressions or else just play a synth over a bassline and repeat it until i get something that clicks
    Last edited by rayzer; 06-07-2012 at 08:41 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BeatGenerals View Post
    I agree, i hate those robotic one two melodies but they work sometimes lol.
    Ha TBH what I've noticed is generally melodies don't fall on the beats.

    Of course there are plenty of songs who's melodies do, but more often than not it's not as rigid as 1-2-3-4 usually the melody divides the 4 beats by 3, 5, 7 etc. and even then that's a bit too strict at times.

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    I know i'll get critizied but riff machine

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