More Melody Writing Tips

Melody writing is my favourite part of songwriting. It's the part I look forward to the most, and it's always an adventure for me.

Here is a cool way to boost your creativity, and write a brand new song.

The Ghost Song

This is a great exercise, and one I use often. Pick a hit song that you like, and write a new melody for it.

Keep the same lyrics, and the same basic rhythm in your head as you write. The song you are using is sometimes referred to as a 'ghost song'.

You can adjust the tempo if you like. If it's upbeat try it as a slow ballad. If it's in a minor key, pick a major one. This might make it easier to create a brand new melody.

The melody you are replacing likely has a lot of repetition. If you want your melody to be memorable it must have a lot of repetition as well.

But you don't want to overdo it. A good song must be able to stand up to multiple listenings without getting boring and monotonous. The way to do this is to use contrast.

Listen to the ghost song you are using. Most likely the chorus is quite different from the verse. Maybe the verse melody uses eighth or sixteenth notes, and then the chorus goes with long half and whole notes.

Listen also to the pitch. Generally it's a good idea to center the verse melody at a lower pitch than the chorus. That way the chorus will have more emotional impact as the pitch rises.

Try starting your chorus at least a major 3rd above the last note of your verse.

Here's something else you should do regularly...

Listen To The Radio

A lot of songwriters I meet insist upon shutting out the rest of the world. They believe that if they isolate themselves and don't listen to other peoples songs, their writing will be unique.

But if you wanted to be a great painter, wouldn't it make sense to study the techniques of other great painters?

Every guitarist I know is excited to learn other guitarists' tricks. Same with singers, photographers and guinea pig breeders.

Songwriting is a craft, and as with any other craft you should study the masters if you want to improve.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is this: Listen to the radio. Listen to top 40 radio. Every hit song is a hit for a reason. Something about it resonates with a lot of people.

And it all starts with the melody. The melodies of hit songs are memorable. So study the melodies of hit songs. When writing music for your songs compare your melodies to the those of the hits.

Rewrite and hone your melody until it works. You'll know when it does because you'll get a little shiver up your spine!

Isn't melody writing awesome?

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