Posted Aug. 8, 2019, 1:42 p.m.
The most popular songs in the world all have one thing in common—great melodies. They’re what draw the listener in, and what keeps them humming along after the song is over. Melodies are most important part of any song, which is why we’re breaking down everything you need to know about how to write a melody, as well as a few songwriting tips for taking your music to the next level.
Let’s start with the basics: what is a melody? If you Google the phrase “melody definition”, hundreds of results pop up. But the answer is actually pretty simple; a melody is a sequence of notes that fit within the confines of a scale. While some songwriters study music theory for years before they grasp the complexities of scales, Reason 10 is packed with powerful creative tools to help you make music quickly. Let’s take a look at how Scales & Chords player can help you write professional-sounding melodies.
How To Write A Chord Progression
Great melodies start with great chord progressions. There are dozens of common chord progressions to choose from, but they require an advanced understanding of music theory and impressive piano skills to pull off. Instead, you can use the Scales & Chords Rack Extension to create chords with a single finger.
First, load your favorite virtual instrument and drag Scales & Chords into the Reason Rack. Scales & Chords automatically generates chords from single notes, so you can create a full chord progression simply by playing a few single notes on the keyboard. And the best part is, even if you play a wrong note, Scales & Chords will shift to the closest note in the scale.
How To Write Melodies
The next step is to create a simple melody that you can improve upon. Start by identifying which notes were used in your chord progression by looping the full passage and selecting “Send to Track” in the top right corner of the Scales & Chords device. This will create a new lane and a clip with all of the notes used in the chord progression.
Drag the clip to a new virtual instrument as a starting point for your melody. Next, remove two notes from each chord to create a single note melody. You can randomly select which notes to delete from each chord, or keep the same interval for each chord. In the video, we chose to keep the top note of each chord, or the 5th interval.
Add Interest, Movement And Complexity
Now that you have a basis for your melody, it’s time to make things a little more interesting with some classic songwriting techniques. Add another Scales & Chords player above your new virtual instrument.
Add movement to your melody by adding new notes that walk up or down to the next note in your melody. However, only playing adjacent notes makes for a boring melody. Try adding more variety by experimenting with different positions with each note. Jumping to a note just above or below the next note in a sequence is a great way to create melodies that feel fresh yet familiar.
Melody Writing Rules
This method provides a systematic approach to writing melodies that makes it easy to create a song quickly. The more you write, the more intuitive the process will become.
Here’s a quick recap:
- The melody starts in the chords
- Walk up or down to transitions
- Jump intervals for variety
- Be predictable, but unexpected
Now that you know how the basics of how to write a melody using the Scales & Chords player in Reason 10, it’s time to finally finish that stack of unfinished beats!