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tips for writing vocal melodies?


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Everyone is going to find their own approach, and so probably the best way to start is just to start. But here's what I do: I usually start with a general idea of what I want a song to sound like. Happy or sad, choppy or steady, etc. Usually by this point I already have at least some lyrics, so some idea of the rhythm and meter. Then I just start playing around with the guitar, trying to come up with chords that capture the feeling I'm going for. Once I have the chords, I'll just start singing along, singing whatever melody comes into my head to fit with those chords. If parts sound too cliche or un-musical, I slow down and try to pick out individual notes from the chords. A lot of it is trial and error.

Ither people like to actually pick out the melody on a guitar or keyboard or whatever, then put chords to the melody afterwards. It's worth trying different approaches to see what works best for you. Above all, keep doing it! The more melodies you come up with, the more ideas you'll have for more melodies. You may come up with more than one possibility for the same song, and then you get to pick and choose.

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80% of the time I usually don't have to "engineer" a melody - it'll come to me with the chord progression (including a rough lyric).

 

However when it doesn't come naturally I use EddieBoston2's first approach.

 

I will also come up with melodies and sing them into my cell phone's voice recorder for safe keeping. Then I'll go back and figure out the underlying chords. For me this is the most difficult. I'm easily frustrated when I can't nail the exact chord... :cry:

 

As Eddie said, just start doing it and you'll get better! :thu:

 

Neall

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Analyze what you like.

 

Figure out all the notes that are used in a tune you like. Not the order of those notes, but just a total of them all. There's your scale. Say it's Superstition by Stevie Wonder. Not only are there notes from the blues scale but there are those cool stressed notes on the turn around, "if you believe in things, you don't understand you suffer". Cool. Check out the note under "believe". It's the 2nd note in a minor scale. Kind of an odd stressed note but it sounds cool. Make a note you like how that works and try to later incorporate it in your new melody. But first...

 

Figure out a few rhythmic motifs from another tune you like, not the same one. For instance McCartney's Yesterday. The opening rhythm of the tune when he sings "Yesterday" then maybe the rhythm "Now I need a place to hide away." Then the "I bElieve in yesterday"

 

Do the same rhythm analysis of another tune you like. Say... "I can't get no... satisfaction."

 

Now try combining the scale you got from the first analysis with some of the rhythmic motifs you've collected.

 

You'll notice a couple of things. First, the results will sound nothing like any of the songs you've analyzed because you combined only certain components of the melodies, and second, you results won't have worked like you had hoped as is...

 

...but! The needed changes will be obvious and intuitive to you. And at that point, you will have truly created something of your own.

 

After doing this a few times you'll find tunes will flow out of you easier because now you're more aware of how the 2 separate elements, rhythm and melody go hand in hand to create fresh music.

 

Have fun with it

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I've had mixed results doing it several different ways. I guess what I'm saying is I've tried one way that worked well and the next time it didn't and had to do something else.

 

 

Here is how many of my songs come to be: I might have the "makings" of 5 or 6 songs at any one time.. maybe just a theme and a verse or 2. I will be noodling on the guitar and get a feeling or a cool hook going and one of those "works in progress" seems to fit a little. I'll play it through a few times and get the pacing down and tweak on it some.. pull out a word or change a word, etc. If it feels like I'm forcing it, I'll back off and try it again later with something else. The melodies themselves seem to just happen with the chord progression and trying to lay in the lyrics. Sometimes I'll try a little melody/lead picking with the progression and that can help with fleshing out the melody too.

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