The melody is one of the most important parts of any song. If you get it right – it’s what people will be singing in the shower all day long. In this tutorial, I share with you 5 ESSENTIAL Melody Patterns can be used in ANY genre of modern music – House, Techno, Melodic House, Pop, Trap, Drum & Bass.
I’ve also included audio and video examples, too. 🙂
Melody note lengths
First thing’s first! Melodies are usually best written using 8th notes as the shortest note (dotted 8ths are good for adding syncopation and groove). 16th notes tend to be too short and harder to sing/remember.
The chord progression is usually the main driver for the emotion of a song / track. If you pick or write a killer chord progression, it’s usually easier to then write a melody over it, rather than the other way around.
Once you’ve chosen a key for your track and written a chord progression in that key, you can use my “template technique” to create a template in which to write your melody. You do this by writing every note from within that key in your piano roll editor, then pressing “fold” (in Ableton Live 11 you can select the scale so you don’t have to do it manually). If you then use that template to write your melody, you won’t program in a “wrong” note.
Leap-wise and step-wise
Ok, now we’re set-up – let’s dig into it. A good melody usually uses a combination of “leap-wise” and “step-wise” notes. Leap-wise is when there’s a fairly large jump up or down from one note to the next (Think of the “Don’t you worry, don’t you worry” in the chorus of the Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child”). Step-wise is where the pitch jump is much smaller – perhaps just to the next note in the scale instead (Think of the “Plan for you” in the same chorus of the same song):
Repetition and simplicity in melodies
Repetition is important in a good melody, too. If a melody runs across 8 bars, for example, bars 1 to 3, might be the same as bars 5 to 7, with only bars 4 and 8 being different (again, listen to the chorus of “Don’t You Worry Child” to hear this in action.
Another kind of melody is an arpeggio. This is pretty simple to do, as it involves playing the chords of your chord progression as single, progressive notes (think “Opus” by Eric Prydz).
You can also watch my Eric Prydz tutorial here: How to produce house music like Eric Prydz
The repeating motif
This is one of my personal favourites. Write a simple, repeating melody (perhaps 1 or 2 bars long) that sounds great when just the root bass note of the track is playing. Use only notes from with that key for your motif. Then, when you start changing the bass note or add in your chord progression, you keep the motif melody the same and it still sounds great. A good example of this is in an older track “Aftermath” by Pryda – Check out when the drop hits and the bass note changes at 11:26:
The bass melody
This is another way or approaching a melody. Instead of having a separate bass line AND melody, the bass line IS the melody. Examples of this would be Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction”, Oliver Heldens’ “Gecko”, and Swedish House Mafia’s “One”.
BONUS: Spicing-up your melodies!
Adding pitch bends in the your melodies (like in Tiesto and KSHMR’s “Secrets”) can spice things up, as well as adding a 16th note run at the end of a melody, to take it back to the start for when it repeats:
Let me know what melody-writing tips you have in the comments!