Once you have mastered the concepts in my recent blog about How To Write A Chord Progression, you are ready to start writing song melodies! I am going to give you specific and easy to follow steps/rules that will allow creativity to occur effortlessly.
Writing Song Melodies
Step 1) Know what note names are in each of your chords of your progression. I am going to provide a table for chords in the Key of C below that has all of the notes listed.
It is important to note that almost all melodies consist of mainly chord tones. Some tones in melodies are used to fill in gaps between chord tones to make a melody that moves in steps. Those tones are called non-chord tones. It is best to use these when writing song melodies.
Step 2) Write the outline of a melody that uses only chord tones, and make sure those chord tones are half notes. Here is an example using a I -> IV -> V -> I chord progression that is four measures with a melody that uses only half notes that are chord tones.
Step 3) Change the note rhythms of certain notes and add non chord tones when writing song melodies. It is important to remember that longer rhythms should be chord tones as well as notes that occur on down beats (1, 2, 3, and 4). Below is an example where chord tones were changed from half notes to other rhythms and non chord tones were added to make the melody move by step. The original melody outline is shown by note with red dots.
As you can see, the example follows the simple rule that longer rhythms are chord tones and occur on down beats.
In case you were wondering, it doesn’t matter which note you start a measure on or even a song for that matter when writing song melodies. Each measure should start on a chord tone and you melody may be shaped from there. This process of writing an outline of a melody then going back and filling in with various non chord tones has been used in millions of songs from all styles and genres.
If you would like personal assistance writing song melodies or with any of the blog concepts, online and on-location lessons are available from Let’s Play Music and Make Art, LLC located in Derry and Londonderry, NH. www.letsplaymusic.com