This is the hardest part of making music. You can master the beat, the recording/mixing process, but writing a melody is quite tough. At the same time, there are some “tricks” that will help you get started. Basically, a melody is a series of notes that we perceive as a whole thing. It is the melodies that make it or break it for a song and they’re also the parts that we remember the most. At the same time/ the beat/rhythm is also very important.
To get started, you’ll need:
– A DAW. A Digital Audio Station is where the musicians create their masterpieces.
– For electronic music, a combination of a MIDI keyboard and some VST instruments is a great way to start.
– Some knowledge of music theory. Without it, you won’t be able to get yourself heard. Thankfully, it’s not that hard (the basics aren’t, at least).
Overall, there are 7 definitions when it comes to creating melodies. Those include harmony, range, rhythm, line, form, contour, and difficulty. In this review, we’ll talk about them all in more details.
Contouring is important, but music has no boundaries, and that’s the greatest thing about it. Put different contours together to see how it all works: descending ones create a lot of tension; for excitement and triumph, go with ascending contours.
A musical piece should be easy enough to perform it.
- Don’t hesitate to use loops. They will help you better understand how this whole thing works and maybe even inspire you to write a simple melody. The piano is the best instrument for that. Always start with only one instrument and only then move on to other ones.
- Restrain yourself from creating melodies that last for 2 or 3 minutes. Usually, in EDM, we’ve got repetitive parts that last 30-35 seconds.
- Speed is another thing to consider. Electronic music is usually pretty fast, but there is a way to make it slower.
- The range of notes. As a general rule, it is way easier to mix a project that lacks super low and high notes.
Yes, I’m talking about the rhythm of the melody. A dynamic melody is catchy and moving. Faster notes, along with variations, are the key here. Experiment with this and try to find your signature rhythm. Michael Jackson’s biggest hits, for example, are very fast and syncopated.
You’ve got two options here:
– Conjunct melodies are usually boring and there isn’t much going on from start to end. At the same time, they are perfect for raising the tension.
– Disjunct melodies, in turn, come with way more breaks, changes in the rhythm/tempo, and other sudden moments. They are very popular in classical ballet and operas, by the way.
In EDM, conjunct melodies prevail. In this genre, you need something catchy and repetitive.
Writing a Harmony
Harmonies deal with the chord progressions. That means you won’t really need to layer any notes together for a melody. But in order for the beat to sound great, you’ll need to master this part. The I-V progression is the most popular one. Pop and EDM are the simples genres; jazz and blues are the hardest ones. Again, for electronic music, harmony isn’t the most important thing.
House music is all about repetitive parts; same goes for trance. At the same time, dub-step and EDM are a bit more complicated when it comes to forms. So, what is a form? It’s the face of the song if you will: the breakdowns, the drops, the build-ups – all that stuff. With time, you’ll develop a sense for these things. Here are some tips:
- Never place the biggest and strongest drop in the beginning/first half.
- Breakdowns are great, but only when they’re short. One-minute-long breaks are frustrating.
- Make sure the track is expanding and exploding at the end. Start with simple drums and a melody and keep adding new things to the last second.
The Most Popular Melodies in Electronic Music
Arpeggios, chord-based and motif-based melodies are the very foundation of this genre. Arpeggios are just serious of notes played in a consecutive order, like on a harp. Chords, in turn, are a bit harder but can create the necessary drive and harmony. Start simple and move on to more complicated combinations once you master the basics.
The Key to Success Is Experimentation
Experimentations, along with deep analysis, will allow you to improve your skills. Listen to the most popular songs/tracks in EDM and try to understand how they managed to create those legendary melodies.
Get inspired by their work so that you can write your own hit one day.