Easy Methods to Make Your Melodies Sound Pro 2
You know that melody you’re writing that’s stuck in your head?
It’s catchy, and your audience will love it. They will get it stuck in their heads and hum it all day long.
But you want to take it to the next level. How can you mix it up without losing your original idea? Most importantly, how do you keep your audience engaged?
What Can You Do To Your Melody?
There are a wide range of tools available to alter a melody. This can come in many forms, such as harmonic alterations, ornamentation, or rhythmic changes that preserve your original idea while adding meaningful variations that grabs the listener’s attention.
Today we will focus on rhythmic changes using the basic melody in the following section. If you haven’t seen my previous melody blog, the first in this series, you can discover more about this basic melody’s construction.
Today we will be covering 3 potential rhythmic alterations.
- Moving the start of the phrase
- Augmentation or Diminution
Before we dive into these alterations, let’s review our original melody from the first post. Notice this melody is solely composed of quarter notes and half notes, with each note falling on a beat.
Syncopation is shifting the emphasis of our melody from beats to offbeats. Notice in the second measure of the melody below that every note that was originally on a beat now sounds on an offbeat or upbeat.
This effect adds more rhythmic variation that draws the listeners’ attention. This can also be a cool way to build energy as our subdivision shifts from only quarter notes to eighth notes.
Moving the Start of the Phrase
Next, we will look into shifting the phrase or anticipation or suspension.
Anticipation is arriving at a key point in the phrase early. This occurs just before the second bar when the A comes in early. This is altered from the original melody, which occurs on the downbeat of bar two.
Next, suspension is when a key point in the phrase is delayed and occurs late. This occurs in bar five. In the original melody, the A occurs on the downbeat. However, the suspension holds the previous note over the bar and resolves on the upbeat.
Now listen to the example below and follow along.
The key takeaway is that by moving a starting or ending note, you obvert the listeners’ expectations. This makes a melody more memorable because it is less generic. However, overdoing this can become too complicated for the listener to remember.
Augmentation and Diminution
Moving on, the next technique regards the actual length of the melody and its parts. What this means is either doubling or halving all the note values to make a quicker or slower version of the same melody.
Now, listen to the original and then the diminished version (shorter) and notice the difference. Every quarter note became an eighth, every half a quarter, and so on.
This effect of halving or doubling the melody is effective to either build energy or create a break where a song slows down and can build back up again. While this alteration is not as versatile as the other options, it definitely can help give you more options for your song and its form.
Here is a link to the midi file, which includes all versions of this melody that can be opened in your daw or music notation program.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or requests for tips and tricks to improve your writing!
Hi, I’m Cj Rhen, and I am a composer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. You can find some of my work at cjrhenmusic.com or on sounds.com, where I write and record high-end sax and horn loops for your music. Also, you can check out my live streams at twitch.tv/cjrhenmusic to see me writing music like this post live and ask questions and chat.