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How to Write A Song Melody Blog

Updated: Dec 2, 2022


I have no idea what melody to write..every single one I write sounds awful!...

Have no fear! I've got your back.

I'll be starting with melodic writing techniques and I'll finish by giving you a brilliant exercise that'll get you writing killer melodies right away!

Melody Writing

Although I always say that there are no rules for song writing, there are techniques that work really well.

Most songs begin with the melody of the verses being relatively low in pitch, then rising up during the pre chorus (if you are using one), and ending up high for the chorus.

There are many great songs out there that don't use this technique, but it does work very well for the listener as we feel elevated and know when we hit the chorus, ....and as you know, 'humans fear change' this low pitch to high pitch technique that has been around for years and is still used everyday works exceedingly well.


Talking of humans fearing change, let's talk a bit about repetition.

Repetition is very important in melodic writing as it gives the listener familiarity, and the ability to get to know your song quickly. The skill is to know how much repetition is needed and how frequently.

This depends on many factors like: lyrics, accompaniment, the genre of the song etc., and also personal taste! For example, Drake's song God's Plan written by Drake, Ronald LaTour, Daveon Jackson, Matthew Samuels, Noah Shebib & Brock Korsan, is extremely and intentionally melodically repetitive, almost hypnotic, and it was a huge hit.

Experiment with repetition and what works for you with your songs and remember if it is repetitive and becomes a hit song, you'll have to sing it a lot, so make sure you like it!!

Verse Melodies

Let's start with a four line verse melody.

Have you heard of Antecedent and Consequent phrases? It's just another way of saying question/answer phrases. So in music these work fabulously well together.

Giving you these tips will help you to improve your writing or get your inspiration going even if you've got stuck!

Here's how they work...a question phrase will come first, taking up one line of your verse. The answer phrase will conclude it on the following line.

Question phrases go up tonally in the melody at the end, and down for the answer phrases, like in speech:

Question: Would you like a cup of tea?

Answer: A cup of tea would be lovely.

The melodies are normally the same except for the very last bit that goes either up or down.

So you could have:

Line one - Melody Question (up)

Line two - Repeat melody with Answer (down)

Line three - Repeat melody with Question (up)

Line four - Repeat melody with Answer (down)

Or you could flip this on its head like Kesha in her song Praying by Kesha, Ben Abraham, Ryan Lewis & Andrew Joslyn, in her 8 line verse:

Line one - Melody with Answer (down)

Line two - Repeat melody with Question (up)

Line three - Repeat melody with Answer (down)

Line four - Repeat melody with Question (up)

Line five - New melody Answer (down)

Line six - Repeat new melody with Question (up)

Line seven - Repeat new melody with Answer (down)

Line eight - Repeat new melody with Question (up)

Interestingly enough, this song's chorus is not that much higher than the verse and it is still a powerful and catchy song due to the strong hooks.

Often songs also use the statement technique, where a statement is made in the first line and the tone goes down at the end of the line.

Line one - Statement

Line two - Repeat statement

Line three - Repeat statement

Line four - Change

Line one - Statement

Line two - Repeat statement

Line three - New melody

Line four - Repeat statement

Alternatively you could have a 3 or six line verse and it might go like this:

Line one - Statement

Line two - Repeat statement

Line three - New melody

Line four - Repeat line one statement

Line five - Repeat statement

Line six - Repeat of line three with lead into pre chorus or chorus.

A 'lead' is normally created by the melody line rising.

When creating verse melodies, it is usually the case that the melodies do not move around too much...this is often saved for the chorus, so try to use melodies that repeat notes, move step by step or maybe just a skip of a third. (next door but one)

When writing your chorus, if you are using bigger intervals, then repeat them so that they become a hook.

As you know hooks are vital in your chorus. Absolutely vital; and repetition and use of catchy intervals are great devices.

Pre-chorus Melodies

Pre choruses lead us up into the chorus. So if you've been following the low melody and high chorus technique, the pre chorus is a perfect way to bridge that gap by gently rising your melody to reach the chorus.

The single most brilliant example I always use is:

Firework by Katy Perry, Dr. Luke & Max Martin.

Sometimes the pre-chorus does contain slightly different lyrics each time, but usually the lyrics are the same. The melody is always the same...unless you know of an exception and I'd love you to point it out to me :)

Chorus Melodies

The chorus as you know from the lyric section, is the point of your song. It is the part we have all been waiting for. So let your chorus shine.

How you may ask?

The main thing that should occupy your thoughts, is to create hooks – which is a whole topic all of its own.

Here are some examples of strong choruses based on memorable and musical hooks that get us to easily memorize the songs.

The chorus of Piece by Piece, by Kelly Clarkson & Greg Kurstin, starts with the hook of an interval that's repeated within the same line. Then changed by one note on the second line and back to the first riff on the third.

Ryan Tedder is one of the best song writers today in my opinion and, as well as being the lead singer in One Republic, has written songs with Adele, Beyonce and Ed Sheeran and many others.

His song Bleeding Love co written with Jesse McCartney, and sung by Leona Lewis, uses a hook that is repeated for 3 lines then changes on the last line.

Another brilliant song writer, Dolly Parton wrote a similar chorus for I will always love you. One line that repeats. The song was made really famous of course by Whitney Houston.

In the chorus of Dancing on my own, covered by Callum Scott and originally written by Robyn and Patrik Berger, the first two lines are repeated, and then the third line has repetition within it, with a fourth line to bring us back down to the verse and bridge.

So you can see there are many different ways to write that killer chorus, but the one thing that they all have in common is a repetitive strong hook, which I will dive deeper into another time.

Bridge Melodies

So here comes something very different.

I want you to imagine that you have arranged to meet up with your lover.

You know what they look like and what to expect from them and this makes you feel good (hopefully).

So you arrange to meet in downtown New York, or central London for example, right after work at 5:30pm.

You get the picture, it is crowded, but you know who you are looking for, so you are not worried about finding them at the designated meeting point.

One thing, your date is nearly always late.

So you're hanging around, checking out the people and waiting for your date to arrive.

You've been waiting for 15 minutes (worth the wait though of course)...when all of a sudden a beautiful model steps out of a building wearing a stunning bright red silk cape.

It is billowing in the breeze and it mesmerizes you.

You perhaps think how great you'd look in that....or how you wished your date could look like that!...or how you wished you could carry that off.

What you do know is that this 'change' is welcome, that you are interested, and your attention has been drawn away from your regular thoughts.

And it's a welcome change, something refreshingly different.

Then the model is gone and your date arrives.

That is what your bridge should do to the listener.

Studies have shown that although humans respond positively to repetition, we also welcome breaks as long as we can then return to the familiar.

After your bridge, when the chorus comes back in, the listener should feel like smiling at the return of something known and familiar as well as refreshed from a break.

That's a long story to describe a bridge of a few lines.

Bridges can contain lyrics or oohs and ahhs, or can be instrumental.....known as the instrumental break.

You can use different chords, or maybe add in an extra one to the existing progression. You might want to use the same chords in a different order or simply switch the whole lot of them.

Often going to the relative major/minor works well.....but make your bridge different in some way.

They are normally 8 bars long, and swing back into the chorus with longing.

My favourite bridge is in Don't you remember by Adele & Paul Epworth.

How to write melodies

There are many different ways to write melodies, but one thing is for sure, if you've got something new stuck in your head, get it down so it can get stuck in ours!

I use my phone and label each snippet clearly.

Inspiration for melodies can strike at any moment so you need to be ready to write them down or record them.

Sometimes we have to write on a deadline and so we cannot just wait for inspiration to strike.

Or sometimes, we just can't get in the zone. (watch my Songwriter's Meditation on YouTube Video right away! )

Either way, I have put together some really great exercises for you to get writing right away.

Exercise #1 - The Beat Exercise

You will need some basic software...maybe you have garage band?

Decide which part of the song you're going to be verse, chorus.

  1. Start with a basic beat which you can easily create in the software.

  2. Then loop it.

  3. Whilst it's playing over and over start thinking about what kind of song you're wanting to write. A ballad, a love song, a happy song...and just close your eyes.

  4. Now go back into your software and tweak the beat to match the type of song you want to write.

  5. Get your phone ready to record (or however you record).

  6. Loop it again & close your eyes getting into the feel of those beats.

  7. Start on one note and move up and down around this note in time to the beat for for beats only.

  8. Repeat what you've done & then record it.

  9. Play it back to yourself & if you like it, keep it. If not delete and start again.

  10. Never delete anything unless you're going to replace it with something. So try again.

  11. Go for another 4 beats carrying on the melody from where you left off.

  12. Remember the techniques I mentioned earlier and try to include them in your writing.

  13. Before long you will start to get a fantastic melody emerging.

Exercise #2 - The Chord Sequence Exercise

  1. This time either play a chord sequence that you have and like into your software either via a midi keyboard you can create chords directly in the software.

  2. Then loop it.

  3. Complete the exercise as in the Beat Exercise.

Exercise #3 - The Plagiarism Exercise

Pick a melody you love and change it up:

  1. Choose a verse (or pre/chorus, chorus,or bridge) melody you love.

  2. Take the line you like the best.

  3. Remove the lyrics – i.e. Hum or la,la it out loud 3 times.

  4. Change it up by:

  • If the melody starts low and goes high, then start high and go low

  • Change the rhythm – if it's even, try dotting the notes or vice versa

  • If the melody goes GABA, try BAGA or GABC

  • Add a sustained note instead of moving notes or vice versa

  • change the key (start on a different note)

  • Add your own personal style



Always keep going, even if you feel you're losing heart.

Maybe you need to get up and go out for a walk a bit in nature.

Maybe you just need a cup of tea.

Whatever it is you need to do, do it.

Then come back and write that winner melody.

#songwriter #songwriting #singersongwriter #musician

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