When someone asks you “Do you remember the song that goes like….?” Do they sing to you the chord progression? Mouth the drumbeat? Describe the structure of song sections? Speak the lyrics to you?
No, Of Course Not! They sing the MELODY. And the lyrics come in a close 2nd place, because they are usually just as memorable, but they are almost always remembered as Attached To The Melody. The Melody is the key.
Over 99% of the time, the HOOK of the song is the Melody in the Chorus.
A Guitar Riff, or catchy Bass Line, is sometimes a strong Instrumental Hook, but these are also Melodies, just ones that are played on Instruments rather than sang.
So, as important as Solid Song Structures, Good Chord Progressions, Touching Lyrics, Cool Band Arrangements, and a Well Produced Recordings are to a song, without a Strong Melody the song becomes a LOSER.
And a Strong Melody WILL STILL SHINE, even over weak lyrics, chord progressions, song forms, and arrangements. That is not to say that you don’t need to spend time on those components too, their development will be essential in turning that GOOD MELODY INTO A HIT SONG.
SURPRISINGLY, however, courses on melody writing are not even taught even at most of the best music colleges. Melody often takes a back seat to learning about Chords. This occurs for two reasons: One, chords are more mathematical and easier to teach; and Two, our system of chords is a unique feature of Western Music (Music developed from Western Europe and America) which can get quite complex, and does require an in depth study to thoroughly understand.
So if MELODY IS THE KEY to a great song, how do you write a good one?
Here a few QUICK TIPS
1. SHORT AND EASY TO SING PHRASES: There is no sense writing complex melodies that no one can sing along with or remember.
2. PITCH RANGE: Keep it reasonable, usually less than an octave for a song section, and an octave and a half for the whole song.
3. DRAMATIC EFFECTS: Use stepwise motion to keep melodies easy to sing, and leaps in pitch for Energetic Effects.
4. CREATE BALANCE: Preceding and following leaps with movement in the opposite direction of the leap usually balances a melody well.
5. STARTING POINTS: Begin melodic phrases for different sections of your song on different beats of the measure. Starting every phrase of every section at the same place will bore people to death.
6. ADD VARIETY: If you use quick conversation rhythms for one section, try holding out long notes for another.
Keep the concept of melody writing high up on the IMPORTANCE SCALE, and you will quickly start HEARING SONGS IN A WHOLE NEW WAY.