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Pop Songwriting 101:
Memorable Melodies (For those allergic to theory) Part 3

By Tyler Tullock
2000, Tyler Tullock. All Rights Reserved. Used By Permission.

In "Memorable Melodies Part 1 & 2" I walked you though the basics of how to write a solid melody line. This time I am going to show you how to create 4 melodic lines that work together to create a section of a song (a verse or chorus for example).

First, I would like to again go over the purpose of this article in case you missed it in parts 1 & 2??

To teach you how to write melody form the ground up, step by step from a completely mechanical point of view. This will help you to learn to write melody by taking the "artistic risk" out of the process. Please read parts 1 & 2 before this part 3 so you get the entire picture.

How 4 melody lines create a Verse, Chorus, Bridge, etc.
Most sections (Verse, Chorus, Bridge, etc.) in pop music have 4 lines of lyrics. Each line of lyrics is sung to a melody that is written over 2 or 4 bars (measures) of chords. Are you with me so far? To demonstrate in a purely mechanical way how to write 4 lines that work together I wrote a melody line (bars 1 through 4) and then copied it 3 more times to create 4 identical melodic lines each 4 bars in length. Next, I modified the melody a little in lines 2 & 4 (yellow parts in the diagram below). Notice that the yellow parts are the same. I then modified the last bar of lines 2 & 4 but this time they are different from one another with the last bar of line 4 rising in pitch to lead you towards the next section of the song (verse, chorus, etc.).

Symmetry
It is all about a lot of symmetry and a few variations. What I mean by this can be demonstrated by the following examples:

You might write a melody where??

  • Lines 1 & 3 are similar and lines 2 & 4 are similar yet different than lines 1 & 3. You would want slight variations in lines 2 & 4 or 1 & 3 so that they are not identical.
  • Lines 1 & 2 are similar and lines 3 & 4 are similar yet different than lines 1 & 2. You would want slight variations in lines 1 & 2 or 3 & 4 so that they are not identical.
  • Lines 1, 2, & 3 are similar but line 4 is unique. In this case you might have a slight variation in 1 or more of lines 1, 2, or 3. It's all up to you!

There are no rules!
Don't get hung up thinking that these are the only valid ways to write good melody. This article is meant to jump start the creative process! These are proven techniques and after you exercise them by writing a couple of songs I want you to forget all the guidelines and just write from your heart. You will have a subconscious guide with you at all times after you have written a few songs using my method so don't worry about the rules and just write, write, write!!!

See ya next time with a proposed solution for the Napster Problem!!!

Feel free to email me with any questions!

--Tyler


A short bio:
Tyler Tullock is a performing singer-songwriter. He has taught more than 3,000 students Guitar, Bass & Vocals with at least one student going Platinum. He is a former Audio Director at independent label Track Record in Seattle, WA and a former President and founder of LocalSeek Advertising Inc.; an Internet marketing company with more than 200 clients including fortune 500 companies.
His band's new album can be previewed at http://www.tylertullock.com/.

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