THE ULTIMATE MELODY GUIDE: How To Make Awesome Melodies Without Knowing Music Theory (Notes, Scales,
Every hit song has one thing in common; a great melody. Creating memorable melodies over a chord progression is one of the best skills any musician can have since a strong melody can easily make or break a song. However, it can be challenging to learn the art of melody writing especially if you haven't written a song in the past.
THE ULTIMATE MELODY GUIDE: How to Make Awesome Melodies without Knowing Music Theory (Notes, Scales,
Many melodies in music aren't perfect at the first writing session, so take your time to edit if needed. Work on your melody until it sounds professional, polished, and memorable. After all, great melodies can make or break music.
For example, basic music theory defines the elements that form harmony, melody, and rhythm. It identifies compositional elements such as song form, tempo, notes, chords, key signatures, intervals, scales, and more. It also recognizes musical qualities such as pitch, tone, timbre, texture, dynamics, and others.
Think of guitar scales as the building blocks of music. You can write a riff, song, or solo without knowing about any scales, but knowing scales can give you an advantage. Knowing how to use scales can help you write chord progressions, compose solos, or even figure out how to play other songs.
If you want to make your tracks more musical without knowing much about scales and harmony, then this tutorial is for you. This combination of tools and hacks will enable you to add chords, melodies, and basslines to your productions, in the right key and without much effort.
Key terms and conceptsRelated to melody:contour: the shape of the melody as rising or fallingconjunct: stepwise melodic motion, moving mostly by step in intervals of a 2nddisjunct: melodic motion in intervals larger than a 2nd, often with a large number of wide skips range: the distance between the lowest and highest pitches, usually referred to as narrow (> octave) or wide (motive: a short pattern of 3-5 notes (melodic, rhythmic, harmonic or any combination of these) that is repetitive in a compositionphrase: a musical unit with a terminal point, or cadence. Lengths of phrases can vary.Related to rhythm:beat: pulsemeasures or bars: a metrical unit separated by lines in musical notationmeter: groups of beats in a recurring pattern with accentuation on strong beatsnon-metric, unmetrical: free rhythm, no discernable timesimple meters: beats subdivided into two parts (2/4, 3/4, 4/4)compound meters: beats subdivided into three parts (6/8, 9/8, 12/8)asymmetrical meters: meters with an uneven number of subdivisions (7/4, 5/8)mixed meters: shifting between metersmensurations: used in music from 1300-1600, the ratios of rhythmic durationsRelated to harmony:chords: three or more pitches sounding simultaneouslytriads: three notes that can be arranged into superimposed thirdsextended chords: thirds added above the triad, usually as a 9th, 11th or 13th consonance: a harmonic combination that is stable, usually in thirdsdissonance: a harmonic combination that is unstable, often including seconds or seventhsparallel motion: two or more parts moving in the same direction and same intervals, as in parallel fifthscontrary motion: two or more parts moving in the opposite direction oblique motion: occurs when one voice remains on a single pitch while the other ascends or descendscanon: (meaning rule) one melody is strictly imitated by a second part after a delay in the entrance of the second part. In order for the parts to end simultaneously, the canon may break down at the end of the composition. The canonic parts may occur at the unison or some other interval. round: an exact canon, ending at different times, as in ?Row, row, row your boat.?imitation: two or more parts that have the same or similar phrase beginning and with delays between entrances (as in a round or canon), but after the beginning of the phrase, the parts diverge into separate melodies Related to tonality:diatonic: a seven-note scale with a regular pattern of 5 whole and 2 half steps. Diatonic intervals are found within this type of scale.chromatic: using pitches outside of a particular diatonic scale, or using a succession of half steps.major tonality: pitches are related to a central pitch called the tonic. Major scales are used.minor tonality: pitches are related to a central pitch called the tonic. Minor scales are used.modal: refers to music using diatonic scales with Greek names (Western) or non-Western scales modulation: moving from one key area to another key atonality: music that is not tonal or not based on any system of keys or modesbitonality: the simultaneous use of two key areas.polytonality: the simultaneous use of two or more key areas.Related to texture:monophony (noun; monophonic = adjective, as in monophonic texture): literally ?one sound? - one melodic line, without harmony or any accompaniment, which can occur when one person or many people sing a melody simultaneously. Singing in octaves is considered a monophonic texture.homophony (noun; homophonic = adjective): one melodic line with a harmonic accompaniment that supports the melody.polyphony (noun; polyphonic = adjective): two or more parts sung or played simultaneously.heterophony (noun; heterophonic = adjective): multiple voices singing a single melodic line, but with simultaneous melodic variants between the singers. Heterophony often occurs in non-Western music and sometimes in folk music.
Students are encouraged to listen to several examples of each style at online sources available through Classical Music.net, Naxos, or other online sites and to listen for the characteristics given below.Early medieval music to 850: mainly plainsongs (chants) written in Latin for the churchsacred: worship music for the church, always in Latin texture: monophonicmotion: conjunct melodiestext settings: syllabic and melismaticrhythm: free rhythms based on the syllables of the textscales: modal, based on the pitches D (Dorian), E (Phrygian), F (Lydian), G (Mixolydian)ranges: narrow, usually less than an octavenotation: neumes --groups of notes in symbols, showing the direction of the melodic patterns. musical staff: ranging from one to four lines, c-clefs, no bar lines or metersaccidentals: B-flat onlysources: manuscripts are hand copied on parchmentgenres: numerous types of chants (songs in Latin for the church services)composers: mostly anonymousDevelopment of polyphony: 850-1300textures: polyphonic harmony: perfect consonances (perfect fourths, fifths and octaves)harmonic motion: parallel, then in contrary and oblique motionmelodic motion: conjunct in each voice parttext settings: syllabic and melismatic, mostly in Latinscales: modalrhythm: repetitive rhythmic patterns in compound time called rhythmic modesnotation: modal; signs (neumes) show the groups of notes that form each rhythmic unitmusical staff: four to five lines, c-clefs, no bar lines or meters, no dynamics or expression marks, voice designations: tenor, duplum, triplum, quadruplumsources: manuscripts are hand copied on parchmentgenres: organum (chant combined with polyphony), motet (polyphonic settings with new and separate texts added to each voice chants composers: Leonin and Perotin (Notre Dame in Paris), Hildegard of BingenDevelopment of secular music: 1100-1300secular: worldly music not written for religious servicestexts: vernacular languages - French, German, Spanish, Englishtexture: mostly monophonicmotion: conjunct melodiestext settings: syllabic and melismaticrhythm: mostly unmetered rhythms until 1250, metered for dancesscales: modal ranges: narrow, usually less than an octavetraditions: troubadours (South French), trouvres (North French), Minnesingers (German) instrumental dancesinstruments: organs, recorders, sackbuts (trombone), shawm (double reed), vielles (string)composers: Bernart of Ventadorn, Beatrice of Dia, Adam de la Halle, and hundreds of othersLate medieval music: 1300-1420 ?the New Art (Ars nova)textures: polyphonic texts: vernacular and Latin rhythm: complex rhythmic patterns, simple and compound metrical groups, often syncopatedmelodic motion: conjunct linesharmony: consonances: (P=perfect) P4, P5, P8, some thirdsranges: often an octave in each voicecantus firmus: a pre-existent melody (chant, for example) used in the lower voice (tenor)musical notation: mensural; early time signatures (mensuration signs), but still no bar lines 5-line staff with c and f clefs, flats and sharps used on individual notes, and flats at the beginning of a line apply throughout the line, but not as ?tonal? key signatures. voice designations: tenor, contratenor, triplum, cantus sources: manuscripts are hand copied on parchment genres: isorhythmic motets, masses, dance songs (ballade, virelai, rondeau) composers: Philippe de Vitry, Guillaume de Machaut, Francesco LandiniRenaissance ("rebirth"): 1420-1600scales: modal texture: polyphonic, often organized by imitation and canons, or homorhythmic motion: conjunct lines with some wider skipsrhythm: regular pulses, but often without a metrical pulse in vocal music; metrical rhythms and strong downbeats in dances and instrumental music harmony: triadic, but cadences on perfect fifths and octaves (some Picardy thirds at cadences ? the name Picardy comes from north French region where many of these composers originated) ranges: expand to utilize the full SATB registersgenres: growth of numerous sacred and secular genresvocal: predominant in sacred and secular musicsacred music: sung a cappellasecular music: can be sung with instrumentsnotation: mensural; early time signatures (mensuration signs), but still no bar lines. 5-line staff with c and f clefs, parts written on individual sections of the page, no dynamic markings voice designations: tenor, contratenor, cantus, later changing to cantus, altus, tenor, bassus. sources: music printing develops in 1501 in Italy. Manuscripts also continue to be hand copied.genres: single-movement compositions, except for the Mass cycle and dance pairsmass cycle: sacred choral, a capella composition with specific Ordinary sections of the Catholic service composed as a group, often with the same cantus firmus in the tenor part motet: sacred choral, a capella composition with words in Latin chorale: sacred hymn with words in German chanson: secular polyphonic composition with words in French madrigal: secular polyphonic composition with words in Italian Lied: secular polyphonic composition with words in German ayre: secular polyphonic composition with words in English canzona: instrumental composition in the style of a chanson dances: usually in pairs, like the slow pavan and the fast galliardmusical instruments: harpsichord (also called the virginal), clavichord, lute, viola da gamba family (also called viols), recorders, cornetto, shawm, sackbut. The violin is developed, but is mostly used outdoors. Instruments are not usually specified for compositions.ensembles: called ?consorts.? A whole consort is an ensemble of the same family (e.g., all recorders, SATB) and a broken consort is a mixed ensemble.composers: Du Fay, Dunstable, Binchois, Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, Palestrina, Byrd, Morley, Dowland, Marenzio, Monteverdi, and hundreds or othersBaroque Era: 1600-1750textures: homophonic, polyphonic, and contrapuntal texturesrhythms: metrical rhythms, strong and weak beat pulsesmotives: short ideas become the basis for continuous pitch and register manipulation, often presented without regular pauses in the musicscales: major and minor scales developharmonic rhythm: changes often occur on every beat or every two beats basso continuo: bass line played by the harpsichord and cello or other solo bass instrument figured bass: develops c. 1600; number notations that inform the continuo player of the intervals and accidentals in relation to the bass notes; the realization of the harmonies is improvised.terraced dynamics: contrasting piano and forte in abrupt dynamic shiftsornamentation: melodic decorations, often improvised or added from symbols given in scoresaffections: music expresses specific emotionsconcertato style: contrast is emphasized through alternating groups of voices and/or instrumentspolychoral: a composition for multiple choirs or voices and/or instrumentsritornello: instrumental refrain that frequently returns, as in a concerto or between verses of a song notation: modern symbols, written in score notation with time signatures, key signatures, dynamics (piano and forte), measures with bar lines, instrument and voice designations. instruments: the violin family, horns and trumpets (without valves) are not new instruments, but they begin to appear and gain importance in specific ensembles. Harpsichords, and especially organs, become more fully developed as solo instruments. The oboe and bassoon replace the shawm and the dulcian as the principal double reeds.ensembles: string orchestras are expanded with individual instruments that contrast in timbre to each othergenres: numerous multi-movement compositions opera seria: Italian opera, serious in nature, in which the narrative (recitative) and reflective (aria) numbers are all sung, and including staging, costumes, scenery and dramatic acting.oratorio: work for soloists, chorus and orchestra, based on a sacred story; with no acting costumes or scenery.cantata: a composition for one or more voices and accompanimentchorale cantata: a work with soloists, chorus and orchestra, incorporating hymns into the composition.trio sonata: two solo instruments, keyboard and continuous bass instrument fantasia/prelude/toccata: improvisatory compositions, often paired with a fugue fugue: paired with an improvisatory composition (fantasia, toccata or prelude)suite: a collection of dances (allemande, courant, saraband, gigue)solo concerto: a solo instrument and a chamber orchestraconcerto grosso: a small group of solo instruments contrasted with a chamber orchestra. A multi- movement compositionoverture: instrumental movement used at the beginning of an opera or oratoriocomposers: Monteverdi, Schtz, Corelli, Couperin, Handel, Vivaldi, J. S. BachClassical Era: 1750-1800 aesthetic: balance, symmetry and formality, reflecting the rational objectivity of the Enlightenment melody: sometimes tuneful and folk-like; at other times motivically constructed; lyrical themes contrast with dramatic onesphrasing: periodic, in multiples of 4, usually separated by rests; balanced antecedent-consequent phrase relationships tonality: major and minor keys, with major more prevalent texture: homophonic, with occasional counterpoint, especially in developmental sections harmony: triadic with 7th chords used for color and tension; primary chords (I ?IV-V-I) predominateharmonic rhythm: slow, changing every two to four beatsmodulations: to closely related keys (e.g., to IV or V in Major; to III in minor).accompaniments: broken triadic patterns (Alberti bass); repetitive broken octaves (murky bass)instrumentation: homogeneous sounds (orchestras with doubling of winds), musical material organized by families; standardized combinations of instruments within a genre; piano and clarinet (both invented in the Baroque) added to the repertory forms: standardized sonata form, theme and variations, minuet & trio, rondo, concerto-sonata dynamic gradations and expansions: crescendos, diminuendos, piano and forte dynamic (pp & ff very occasionally); occasional accents on off-beats, sforzandosgenres: opera seria comic opera oratorio mass Lied sonata, especially keyboard sonatas string quartet symphony solo concertocomposers: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven Romantic Era: 1800-1900, or nineteenth-century musicaesthetic: freedom from boundaries, including thos