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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Aug-16 > Making melodies

Making melodies

In previous instalments of this series, we’ve looked at using your DAW to create the framework for your composition, and offered additional help to get you inspired with your chord arrangements. Now it’s time for Andy Price to take a more in-depth look at a song’s most important element – the central ‘hook’ or ‘top line’ melody…

MT Workshop Music Composition Tutorial – Part 3

Many moons ago, in our first element-byelement look at songwriting, we presented an overview of how to craft a top-line melody that fitted your song from scratch. Though in-depth, we felt we didn’t exactly highlight just what the melody of a song is and why it’s so important to train your brain to prioritise melody-making during the songwriting process.

Although many of our readers will be writing music devoid of any vocal (or indeed any live elements at all), we’re going to assume that you’re ‘songwriting’ here. That’s not an attempt to sound snobbish – the central concepts of writing a top-line vocal melody are easily transferred to other instruments, but songwriting in the traditional sense dictates your top-line should be the sung vocal melody.

But why is the top-line so important? The clue is in the name. It’s the overriding melody that your chord sequences, rhythmic structure and harmonic drive supports. It’s usually that ‘ear worm’ melody that lingers long in the brain after a song has been listened to, unconsciously making the listener want another fix and (hopefully) then translating into record sales or, since we’re writing in 2016, streams.

Brain work

Many people, when first beginning to learn the techniques required to craft a song, will instinctively construct melodies by ear – often this is fine and can result in looser melodies less beholden to the musical information contained within the chords used. However, undertaking actual study of just what is going on when you’re writing melodies can result in far superior, catchier hooks, and a greater understanding of songwriting.

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About MusicTech

It's the MusicTech Mobile Music issue! With the iOS platform, you can get versions of everything music-production related, and we feature the best of them in the new issue of MusicTech. We've broken it down into five categories: DAWs, Synths, Interfaces, DJ/Beats and Sound Design – Martin Delaney guides us through it all. Also in this issue we have reviews of Reason 9 plus gear from Thermionic Culture, AKG and ROLI, and software from IKM and iZotope. There's modular news and reviews of Euroracks from Studio Electronics and AJH plus tutorials on songwriting, compression and using Ableton Link. An issue not to be missed!
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