“All about that Bass” by Meghan Trainor is one of today’s top hits! I am going to show you how to write songs like All About That Bass by using the music theory that helped create it.
I have written various songwriting blogs you can find on our site. Some were about writing melodies and some were about writing chord progressions. We are going to analyze the song “All About That Bass” and see how it ties in with the other blogs I’ve written.
Write Songs Like All About That Bass: Chord Progression
The opening of the song is a chorus that has an extremely typical chord progression. The chord progression helped make “All About That Bass” a hit song as it has for many others. The key of the song is A major with the starting chord of A major. If you read my blog on writing chord progressions you would know that this is considered the “I” chord in the key. This chord has a tonic function and when writing a chord progression it is always appropriate to start on a tonic chord. To write songs like All About That Bass you need to understand the rest of the chords in the key of A major. There is A, bm, c#m, D, E, f#m, g#º and are respectively also known as I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, and viiº.
With the song starting on the I chord for two measures, All About That Bass then moves to the ii chord for the same length. The “ii” chord has a pre-dominant function. From there the song progresses to the “V” chord which has a dominant function. The progression then ends with the “I” chord which again, has tonic function. Below is a better visual on how the chord progression moves.
I -> ii -> V -> I = A -> bm -> E -> A
There you have it! The same chord progression used to write songs like All About That Bass! It follows the same principles discussed in my blog on Writing Better Chord Progressions.
Write Songs Like All About That Bass: Melody
We are only going to discuss the chorus part of the song because it has the catchy hook that everyone remembers.
Many easy to remember techniques for writing melodies can be found in this. First, melodies are written mainly of chord tones. I highlighted all of the chord tones in red so that you could easily see them within the measures. A chord tone is simple a note that is found in the chord that is played along with the melody. Our chords are written above the staff here. The chord tones in the A major chord are A, C#, E. B minor is B, D, F# and E major is E, G#, B.
I chose not to analyze the melody until the second measure of the song. Looking at the second measure you see it is completely made up of the A note, a chord tone. The next major is made up a little more of non-chord tones so they aren’t highlighted. However, if you analyze the two measures together, the two measures are mostly filled by chord tones. The following two measures (four and five) are mainly made up of chord tones as well. The chord tones are different from the first few measures though because the chord above changed. The sixth measure and seventh measure are also maid up of mostly chord tones when analyzed together because the seventh measure only has one chord tone. Finally, the last two measures of the melody above are made up of chord tones completely.
You may have noticed the above melody has some highlighted notes that are circled. These notes are known as structural tones. In this blog I am going to simply define them as being notes on the strong beats 1 and 3 of the measure. These structural tones are typically notes that occur on strong beats and are chord tones outlining the melody like a skeleton.
The last aspect of the melody that I will address is the yellow highlighted notes. These accented non-chord tones are known as Appoggiaturas. Anything that isn’t highlighted is a non-chord tone that’s unaccented. Unaccented chord tones fall in separate categories like passing tones (a non-chord tone that is passed through when moving from chord tone to a higher chord tone) and neighbor tones (a non-chord tone moving away from a chord tone only to move right back). One non-chord tone is C natural in the beginning of the song that is used here as a blues note. The blues note is technically a type of chromatic neighbor tone that is a half step below where it resolves which is this case is the C#.
It is easy to write songs like All About That Bass if you understand music theory and learn techniques discussed in this blog and many other blogs we post. If you are interested in learning how to write songs you can set up an online lesson with me or one of our other instructors by calling 603-425-7575.