Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

how to build, organize and harmonize a melody.

Want to hide these Google ads? Join the Players Union!
Apr 1, 2020 - 6:34:33 AM
71 posts since 3/13/2011

Hi everyone
to build, organize and harmonize a melody.
It all starts with an idea, a feeling, a word or a note and from there we work on it. But how? It is not an easy task. The objective is to create melodies and transform them into songs.

any suggestion?

Apr 1, 2020 - 7:02:18 AM

1737 posts since 2/10/2013

I get the impression that instrumental numbers are often created by individuals. But vocals are created by more than one person. One person works on the melody line and a different person works with the instrumentalist to come up with the lyrics. Or, both people would collaborate on a tune.

I once worked with an aspiring songwriter. He carried a small spiral notebook around with him. When he heard someone utter an unusual "ear catching" phrase he would write it down. These phrases would sometime become the "catch phrases" in tunes he would write.

Finally, I have heard famous composers remark that they seemed to be most productive when they were in a mentally agitated state. Anthony Newley, a very good English songwriter, remarked than he was most creative during his marriage to Joan Collins.

Did I just hear younger members say "Who Dat ?". They were "big names" at one time. Check them out on Wikipediia.

Apr 1, 2020 - 8:41:38 AM
likes this

7057 posts since 8/28/2013

"I get the impression..." pretty much introduces this comment as mere opinion, although there is some truth involved.

I certainly have to disagree with the idea that instrumental numbers are created by one person and vocals by another. Although it's many times true, that premise doesn't account for people such as Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan, or perhaps other even more ambitious persons such as Scott Joplin, who composed the book, the libretto, the music, and the instrumentation for an entire opera.

It's my belief that in composing music and/or lyrics, that every person works in his or her own way, and that sometimes even a single person works a little differently and obtains ideas in many different ways.

I do believe, too, that many times, a partnership between a musician and a wordsmith can be equally productive.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 04/01/2020 08:42:43

Apr 1, 2020 - 9:51:39 AM

68 posts since 9/6/2014

The approach I use is to create the lyrics of the song then build the melody according to how I want to convey the tone of the song. Is it happy? Is it sad? I use the chords and melody accordingly. If it is happy or funny I usually write a melody that is faster and more upbeat. If it is sad I usually write a melody that is slower, in a minor key, and with more spacing between the lyrics. It works for me. However, I'm nobody :)

Apr 1, 2020 - 9:54:29 AM

7057 posts since 8/28/2013

As far as suggestions, the first thing I would do would be to listen. There are bits of melody in so many things from other tunes to other things as diverse as the rhythems of road traffic, melodies in birdsong, or a simple chord change that can be triggers to finding new sounds. It can start with simple experimentation on banjo, piano, or whatever instrument one chooses to play.

Also look, smell, taste, and feel. A song doesn't have to start with an actual tune, but can emanate from almost anything.

Melodies can start with chord progressions, or a chord progression can evolve from a melody. Words and phrases and moods can also lead to music, music to words and moods.

The best suggestion I can offer is "Be flexible. Keep an open mind, open ears, open eyes, and an open heart."

Finally, I'd say that a song can also be a combination of inspirational sources. It can be surprising how hearing of a stock market gain while having relationship problems might lead to a tune with moods from both.

Edited by - G Edward Porgie on 04/01/2020 10:04:28

Apr 1, 2020 - 10:26:05 AM

2598 posts since 4/19/2008
Online Now

My advise is to analyze simple songs in order to understand the underlying theory involved.
I wanted to teach my little girl how melodies and chords go together and made her some PDFs of songs she knew. Here's one of the simplest songs on earth with chords and melody intervals that I used with her. As with vast majority of all songs the melody starts and ends with a 1, 3 or 5 and uses the I (IV) V chords. Also as usual the first and last chord is the tonic (key) chord. The thing to notice is which numbers are being focused on during the chord changes.

Apr 1, 2020 - 12:05:55 PM

71 posts since 3/13/2011

Thank you very much for your collaboration

Apr 10, 2020 - 6:31:20 AM



130 posts since 2/18/2005

A lot of good advice here (except for the bit bout getting the instrumentalists to work on the lyrics!)
Songwriters vary in their approach, and one songwriter may take a different approach to different songs. I have (a) written lyrics to existing tunes and (b) written and arranged tunes to existing lyrics (usually poems). Accordingly, when I write a song that's "all my own work," I sometimes start with the lyric and sometimes with the tune. Very occasionally, I'll find a short musical phrase and fit a short word-snippet to it - or vice versa - and then develop the words and music in parallel. There may be people who do it like that most of the time.

My first step is to write one note for each syllable of the lyric, if the lyric came first, or one syllable of the lyric for each note of the tune, if the tune came first. (Exceptions prove the rule).
Like Deborah said, I would try and put a sad tune to sad lyrics, or dramatic lyrics to a dramatic tune., etc.

Perhaps it's important to consider what you are: are you a composer or a poet?
As a composer, you may be able to just sit down and extemporize a tune, but it may be hard work finding the right words, and getting the rhyme scheme right, and getting it to scan properly. As a poet, on the other hand, you my have a nice lyric jotted down fairly quickly after the inspiration gets you, but you may have a hard time working out the melody and rhythm.

Whichever way you go, remember songwriting is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!


Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories