Whether you’ve been making music for 10 days or 10 years, you’ve been exposed to melodies. It’s the part of a song that musicians and non-musicians alike can recognize. But in musical terms, what is a melody, and why is it such a key element of a song? More specifically, what is a vocal melody? Understanding melodies is a must for any musician looking to improve their craft. Let’s dive in!
What is a Melody?
Simply put, a melody is a sequence of notes played in a particular order. Melodies can be the same, single note played multiple times, or a combination of multiple notes. Whether the melodies are complex or simple, they are meant to be memorable.
All musical compositions include melodies, but melodies are not always the focal point. In fact, many times, each instrument plays melodies throughout the composition. A good melody, whether vocal or instrumental, makes use of repetition.
Instrumental Melodies vs. Vocal Melodies
An instrumental melody is produced on pitched instruments. A guitar riff or saxophone solo that responds to vocals in the composition are both great examples of this. It is important to note that instrumental melodies and vocal melodies coexist in songs. In fact, an instrumental melody oftentimes acts as a support system for the vocal melody.
A vocal melody is a melodic sequence that is written for the human voice, and typically acts as the focal point of the entire song. Vocals are usually the most relatable parts of songs, and the biggest opportunity to connect with the listener. Although many vocal melodies may come across as simple to the ear, they are the most difficult part of the music composition process.
How to Write a Vocal Melody
As we all know, songwriting is a deeply personal process and there is no single way to go about it. Whatever your preferences or current processes are in the studio, there are a few key techniques that will help you craft melodies:
- Begin with chords. Build your chord progression with a piano, guitar, or DAW, and keep in mind that chords provide the tonal environment for the melody. Is the song meant to be happy? Go with a major chord progression. Is it meant to be sad? Go with a minor chord progression. Try the Chords tool (coming soon) in MelodyStudio for help here.
- Strive for a natural rhythm. Syncing your lyrics to your melody can be quite difficult if you don’t pay attention to the natural rhythm of the words. For example, a stressed syllable (ex. the first syllable in “music”) could get a longer note than unstressed syllables. Be aware of how you alternate between the syllables in your lyrics, and don’t force a rhythm that ends up sounding unnatural.
- Find inspiration in your favorite songs. Many musicians, especially when starting out, try too hard to be original, and in turn, ignore what’s worked in the past. Although we are by no means suggesting you should emulate a specific artist, there is no harm in analyzing your favorite songs and identifying what hooks you about their melodies. Try out some of their techniques in your own melodies, whether that’s a certain scale or rhythm pattern.
- Use MelodyStudio for original melody ideas. Tools are meant to aid you in your process, not take over. MelodyStudio is a revolutionary vocal melody creation tool that not only speeds up the songwriting process, but also sparks new ideas you may have never considered before. Utilizing MelodyStudio will make you better at coming up with your own melodies and expand on your creative possibilities.
We hope this answered your question, “What is a Melody?”
MelodyStudio is releasing soon, and we can’t wait to see what you create with it!