The first thing that gets stuck in your head is often the melody. A real earworm can haunt your mind for days. But coming up with a new melody that is also catchy can be difficult. Many songwriters return after a few songs to a melody that they have used before. Here are some tips!
Put your instrument away
If you almost always play your instrument while writing, you may get stuck in certain patterns or chord progressions. As a result, you will also stay in the same range more often with your vocal melodies. So, leave your instrument alone and try to write a cappella melodies. In that case you are freer to sing and try what you want, after all you are no longer tied to your instrument.
The power of repetition should not be underestimated. Once you’ve found a catchy melody, you must put it to good use. But be careful not to irritate with all these the repetitions. For example, use the AABA principle, in which A is your catchy main melody that you briefly alternate with an alternative B melody. This way you step away from the repetition for a while, you keep the melody fresh and as soon as your main melody returns, the listener immediately recognizes it again.
A melody consists of two components. One of these is ‘intervals’. An interval is the musical distance between two notes. For a melody with a small range, the intervals are logically small, with a large range they are larger. You can alternate nicely with this throughout a song. To really make the chorus stand out, for example, you can choose to keep the intervals in the verses small and make them larger in the chorus. This way you create a nice contrast and it ‘opens up’ the chorus, as it were.
The second component of a melody is the rhythm. You can essentially play around with this the same way you do with the intervals. For example, choose a fast rhythm in the verses and a somewhat lower rhythm in the chorus. You can combine and vary endlessly. Short notes, long notes. If you vary enough you keep it interesting.
Listen to your idols
If you have read the above carefully, I advise you to listen to the music of your idols. Pick a song you like and analyze the melody of the vocals. Pay attention to repetitions, intervals and rhythm and write them down. Do this with several songs and possibly different styles. This gives you a very nice idea of how these melodies vary with all components. Take this in and take advantage of it!
To read more about Songwriting and how to improve the process of developing, creating and refining recorded music visit our knowledge base page about Songwriting Education.