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December, 2013

Tips for Composing Music

by Webmaster

I wrote a 3-part series, starting in March, 2013, called "Composing Tools For Your Songwriting Toolbox." It included rhythm, chords, and melody.

Last month I wrote lyrics to a song. I sent the first draft to a cowriter who said he liked it and would like to work on it. And, since I believe that getting feedback on what I write helps me write better songs, or, in this case, lyrics, I read them to a group of friends who are also musicians and songwriters. One immediately started writing music for my lyrics.

I feel that I am a better lyricist than composer. So, I am open to co-writing. Perhaps it is my feeing that I am not a good composter that causes me to look for articles about composing music for songs. This month's column includes advice from several columns and sources. It might even give good composers something to think about.

From "How to Vary a Melody," March/April 2013

  1. Inversion — Turn the melody upside down
  2. Retrograde — Flip the melody backwards
  3. Retrograde Inversion — Reverse the order of your notes then flip the intervals upside-down
  4. Augmentation — Stretch out the melody rhythmically (double the note values)
  5. Diminution — Speed up the melody rhythmically (cut the note values in half)

From "12 Tips to Begin Improvising," March/April 2013

  • Don't focus on just the notes. Use phrasing, dynamics, and rhythmic variations to make a tune of your own.
  • Learn some theory and study your scales—major and minor, blues, pentatonic. Learn what notes sound good in a key.

From "The Top 5 Melody Pitfalls—and How to Avoid Them" by Jason Blume,

  1. Crafting Melodies That Sound as if They’ve Been Imposed Upon Predictable Chord Changes
  2. Settling for Predictable Rhythms in the Vocal Melodies
  3. Lack of Contrast — failure to clearly differentiate each section of a song
  4. Introducing Too Many Melodic Motifs—If you want your melodies to stick in the brain, repetition, repetition and repetition are the top three ways to achieve this.
  5. Failure to Rewrite Melodies—challenge yourself to rewrite each verse and chorus at least three times. You might craft alternate melodies by placing emphases on different syllables, words or combinations of words.

From 'Producing Background Vocals' by Mihai Boloni,

The three fundamental components of popular music are rhythm, melody, and harmony. While rhythm and melody usually get all the glory, harmony, and specifically the role of background vocals, can take an ordinary song and turn it into an anthem. When used effectively, songs that utilize background vocals enhance the musical experience in a way the lead vocal could never do on its own.

From "3 Crucial Whys & Hows to Get Out of Your Writing Comfort Zone" by Cliff Goldmacher,

  • Put down your instrument — We’re often limited in our songwriting by how well or in what style we play an instrument.
  • Write with new collaborators

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