Tuesday, 18 April 2017

5 Tips for creating a Melody from a Chord Progression

Many songwriters start by creating chords and then create a melody as they strum on the chord changes. But most people or texts that teach song writing deal with how to add chords to an existing melody. Or sadly the song writers seem to forget about the most important element – the melody – and concentrate far too much on instrument selection, production effects, lyrics and so on. The melody simply becomes an almost random selection of notes at worst, or a very dull and 'obvious' melody line at best. Without a strong melody line, a song is rarely going to make it on to someone’s iTunes playlist!

So the question is: how do you take this progression you’ve created and come up with a melody that works with it? In this article, we have come with a few tops that will help you to do this, and it works well even if you don’t have a strong music theory background.
There are two main dangers to creating a melody after the chords:
1.     The melody often uses lots of arpeggios (chord-based leaps), making it a bit boring and predictable.
2.     The melody may use the same note over and over again, ignoring the importance of a high point.
So be sure that your melody has shape – an enticing contour that propels the song forward.

Here are some tips that can help you come up with a melody:

1.     Understand the Interaction between the Chord and Melody – For example if the chord that is being played is C Major, then, the melody note to feature should either be C, E or G (the triad that makes up the C Major chord). If the chord being played was G Major, then the melody note to feature should be either G, B, or D.

2.     Make Use of Other Notes in the Scale - work out what key signature your song is in, and then ensure you only use notes from that scale. This will ensure you don't get any 'clashing sounds' that are unpleasant to the ear.

3.     Play the progression many times - so that it becomes very predictable to you.

4.     If this is a verse melody you’re creating, consider using higher pitches once you pass the midpoint of the melody. In other words, you want the higher points of this melody to occur near the end of the verse, preparing the chorus. You’ll also want to have a point in your verse that seems to be a high point, a climactic moment. Chorus melodies should usually be placed higher than verse melodies. So, do the same procedure to come up with your chorus melody, again paying attention to the need for a climactic point. Once you’ve done this step, you should have a mainly stepwise verse and chorus melody.

5.     While stepwise melodies are good, you’ll want to have one or two leaps upward to inject some energy into your melody. This works well after the midpoint of each melody. Leaps make melodies more memorable, but too many actually have the opposite effect, so be careful.


As you create your verse and chorus melodies, you’ll usually find that they start to acquire a life of their own. In other words, once a melody starts to unfold, there will seem to be a logical way for it to continue. Use your instincts, and go with your gut. As you play your progression, don’t forget about harmonic rhythm. That’s very important. Harmonic rhythm is the regularity of your chord changes, and you’ll want that to be fairly constant. Chords that change according to a regular rhythmic pattern is a crucial part of setting up your song’s groove.

BlueTimbre is a Music hub with Music Education spaces, Jam Room and Recording studio located in India. BlueTimbre provides complete end-to-end Music Education solutions for schools. BlueTimbre management team comes with a decades of cumulative experience in running structured businesses, music curriculum development, music education and performance.


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