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I don't hear new melodies, do you?


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This is really bugging me. When I read interviews of some songwriters, they say they hear new melodies. And a song idea is born.


Others are more like me. I _never_ hear a new melody. This is perplexing to me. HOW can this be that they have this? Do they have something I don't? Can I be trained? Why would their brain do this? I mean, you have to think about making a new melody, right? I have lots of melodies running through, yeah, but they're existing songs, ones I've recently heard or songs of mine I've been working on.


On the other hand, I guess I could equate it to a dream. With that, your brain is "creating" something totally out of the blue. I dream a LOT. I wonder why I _never_ hear a new melody?


The only thing close is one time I dreamed I was looking at the score of a new song. I awoke and played the chord progression. It made musical sense. I've since lost it but I don't really recall a melody but a chord progression.


The songs I write, I have almost always started with a lyric. Then I noodle around with a chord progression and from that springs an eventual melody. It bugs me I can't do it the other way. Probably much more musical than lyrically-oriented.


Thinking about why... maybe I should explore advancing my guitar/piano skills. I play mostly chord progressions or arpeggio style with very few "riffs." Just mostly chord infill stuff. Maybe I would improve more in the melody arena if I played more melodies. Of course, I _sing_ melodies, so maybe this idea is all wet.

> > > [ Live! ] < < <

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Well, many people might not be as open in acknowledging the basis of a melody in something they've heard before...

...but here are a few ideas to try for generating melodies:


(1) Try cutting back on the amount of music you may listen to casually. Aural "wallpaper" tends to seep into your mind & come up when you're trying to call forth ideas.

Classic Beatle lore is that Ringo's songs were usually quite like whatever he'd been listening to (& he lacted the self-consciousness that lead the others to dress his borrowings up!).


(2) You mention that you usually work from a chord/harmonic progression; try sitting with an instrument & just "noodling" with no intention---no plan, no attempt to build a progression or even a tune. Be as free as you can---imitate a bird outside; play to the rhythm of someone you see walking across the street; anything that occurs to you!

Do this with any instrument on which you have any facility; in fact it often works better on those with which you're unfamiliar.

Be sure to have a recorder of some sort going.

This relieves you of the need to observe/remember anything & allows you to review material at a later time.

Personally, I think this may help you break the routine to which you may have become accustomed by starting with lyrics, then chord progression, etc. After a while you're bound to lean on those things that've become your (even unconscious) favorites.

[Do not try this with any of the "random" melody generators/variation devices that are available---they work from certain formulae of their own & will not give you the same result in so far as far as the tunes that they yield or in the way that you want to revamp your mental process!]


(3) Try listening to music outside the realm you usually hear. Often other cultures, while still relatable to the basic tonal palette of all Earthlings (no matter how exotic, all our music has a tonic, a fifth & some sort of third), have different structures & patterns, some of which may appeal to you.


(4) Try playing some recordings at different speeds or backwards. Besides giving you an occasional giggle, this can give you a new perspective.

Super fast makes things "birdy"; slowing things gives them "soul" or gravitas (it's great for turning a pop song into "blues").

Though this may seem too playful, remember that a lot of respected classical composers used just such ideas (canons, fugues,etc.).


(5) Remember that, ultimately, there's nothing wrong with a certain amount of inluence/imitation/tradition; everyone does it & no one is truly "a bolt from the blue"---in fact, just as an alternate exercise, deliberately recast a traditional song by altering the tune, accompianment or arrangement.

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I look at it this way, just my way not the way.... a melody is like a solo, that leads or folows the progression. But it is not a fast nooddle solo... slow, with purpose.


It is made up of chord tones, or leads to or folows chord tones.


Most of the time it leads the chord progression arround it's form, creating tension that pushes the ear to need to hear the next chord.


Sometimes it is dragged arround the progression, releasing the tension between the chord tones as it goes.


Try this: Sing or play a simple a melody before you write the chords, then write chords that support the melody. Or...


Write a progression, pick anything but the root of each chord, then connect the dots with passing tones.


For me the best thing is to sing a melody, and write the chords to support it. I usualy sing the words to beat poetry while doing this, or make up words or noises that fit the rythmic pattern I'm looking for.



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As someoe mentioned , I only get into melody-land when Im not in front of an instrument ( too constrained by my technique) and am just imagning melody sans lyrics or chords. An uncluttered focus on pure melody is what I find it takes. Then Id bettrer have my handy recorder nearby or it may be lost forever.


BTW- the subtle details are really key to the distinctiveness of the melody. I find it useful to re-write them to take out the more ordinary and replace it with some more interesting notes here and there.


There is no such thing as writing - only re-writing.


If you dont re-write your melodies, examining things at the note by note level, then you are not likely to end up with anything really interesting. IMHO

Check out some tunes here:


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You'll notice as you read this forum that it's different for everybody, and there ARE no rules or set methods. And some, like me, come by it in all directions.


I sometimes hear a melody, and try to work a progression around it. Sometimes I have the progression, and search for a melody. And then sometimes, I've managed to get different melodies for the same progression, and have to decide. Or, different progressions for one melody. It can be a bitch, I know. And what to fear the most is rushing a melody to the progression that doesn't do justice in order to feel complete. Or to say you've done it.


And as frustrating as you might think it, it's all really the intrigueing thing about the proccess, isn't it?



I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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My weakest songwriting point is melodies. I seem to have to labor over them. Usually, they don't just flow. So I created a hypnosis session I like to call, "Instant Hit Song." I use it to stimulate the muse and it works!


Now, I just pop this session in the CD and in 20 minutes, I've got a great idea. It's like microwave-songwriting :)


But what it has done for me the most is condition my brain to receive song ideas. I'm feeling much more prolific and creative as a result.


I'm going to make the session a little tighter and I'll make it available for download at my site :cool:




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Ever since I can remember, even way back as a kid, I was hearing melodies in my head. The key is letting your mind wander, for me, thinking out loud. And, being by yourself, alone with your thoughts. Go for long walks. Leave the radio off when you drive. Hum whatever pops into your head, even if it's a popular song.


Another thing that may work is leave the radio on...but very softly...and turn a fan on in the room where you are (this shouldn't be out of the question down in Loozeyanna) You'll be aware of something...let the drone of the fan take it somewhere. It won't be anything like what you were listening to on the radio.


The key is listening to yourself...your own mind.

"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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Live Music. I wish that I was a little bit more like you. I ususally think of the melodies first (sorry, don't know how). I wish that I could start with the lyrics. Take what you do as a good thing because that way your chord progressions will have the emotion of the lyrics. Emotion is something that alot of music lacks. There arent that many people who can make you feel the blues like SRV or make their guitar cry like santana. so if your chords have more emotion in them it is good. (much better than playing a g7 to a heavy rock song). :cool:
If I was talking to the ice cream, I would be eating you.
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  • 4 weeks later...

i dunno if i'm gifted or cursed

i heard melodies in my head most of the time

sometime i couldn't sleep if i didn't wakeup and wrote them down

Some of them are really good in a musical sense

and got recorded in their original forms

some of them got changed,modified to meet music theory

i will get bombarded by flights of musical idea

usually when i'm transporting myself in a moving vehicle

sit near its open window,let the wind caress your face and away your mind will fly




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