In this blog post I will write about an idea that can help you with writing musical melodies. I believe there are really no “good” or “bad” melodies. Art is subjective. What might be a bad melody to you may be brilliant to someone else. That being said, here are some ideas you can use to make your melodies more interesting.
Steps and Leaps
Take the first 5 notes of the C major scale. C D E F G. Play them as a melody. This would be considered a “step-wise” melody. Using step-wise melodies within a song can sound nice because the notes are all close together so the melody sounds very smooth. If you use step-wise motion too much though, the melody can start to sound almost like you are practicing a scale. It can start to sound a bit boring.
What you should do is use a combination of steps and leaps in your melodies. In melody writing, a “leap” is when you do not use the note next to the note that you are currently on. For example, moving from the note C to the note E is considered a leap. Similar to step-wise only melodic activity, melodies using only leaps are not always pleasant for the ear either. Try improvising a quick melody now using only leaps and you will soon hear how your ear wants you to incorporate a step-wise melodic move again.
The melody for “Twinkle Twinkle” is a good example of a combination of steps and leaps within a melody. The melody starts with a leap, C to G, followed by step-wise melodic motion. Try playing this melody now. Think about the varied use of steps and leaps within it and you will hear what I am talking about.
When writing a melody, try using a combination of steps and leaps in your writing. You may already do this naturally in your melodic writing but it is good to think about from a theoretical perspective. Remember, if you use all step-wise motion in a melody, it can start to sound scalar and restricted. Try incorporating leaps into your melodies but balance them with step-wise activity.
Thank you for reading this quick tip on melodic writing today and I will write more blog posts on melodic considerations in the future.
Have a great day.
©2020 Richard Gillespie