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Topic: the Secret of great melody

  1. #1

    the Secret of great melody

    What is it!? I'm going crazy over here

    What's your method of approach?

    and BTW
    Isn't there any foolproof formula one could use?
    Regards Danial Zainali
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

  2. #2

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    I can't tell you the whole secret, but I can tell you that part of it has to do with staying away from foolproof formulas.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  3. #3
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    I agree no formula can do it.

    Any melody that I've written, that I really like and feel is good, has come from watching the story that plays in my heart.

  4. #4

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    Like they've said, there is really no formula. The only thing I can say is not to include too many major jumps in pitch (like sixths or sevenths or octaves). Of course, even this doesn't apply at times.

  5. #5

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    For me it's often related to something I see and then have a melodic idea of the idea I just had. :S Sounds weird. But for example if I see a cool painting or a drawing and then I think what would be good for it, I usually have some idea and if I like it, I start working on it and try to finish it. It's often the finishing that the most difficult, but the main message here is: trust your first instinct and try to preserve the initial feeling you have.

    I think a melody is the one thing you can't learn from books. You can of course read rules like "a melody on the third of the chord makes a bigger effect than on the first or fifth" or something like this, but it still doesn't tell you what a good melody is.

    I always try to write music I like hearing. Write melodies I like and what I'd want to hear. If I come up with a melody that starts to annoy me very soon, I need to change it. A melody that lasts your own critisism at least while you're working on the song is often a good choice.

    Also getting influences from pieces you like is good. I personally like Hayao Miyazagi's movies (sorry if I spelled it wrong) and the visual world he creates and get very much by watching and listening that kinda stuff. Maybe your melody can be based (and quite often is, actually) on what you hear or what you have heard before. But you just make it your way (by no means meaning copying other people's melodies, but instead getting influences from them and telling your own story in the same context, if you know what I mean).

    Anyway. No formulas.

  6. #6

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    Quote Originally Posted by Felixissimo View Post
    What's your method of approach?
    If there is nothing, then there is nothing and I go out for a walk. This walk may last several years...... (kidding).
    When I think of a new melody,

    1. I think of things happening in my life
    2. Look to great buildings (what would you write down when you see Versailles)
    3. Imagining the symphony of the early birds singing at my room every morning
    4. Transfer my anger into something wild or just the opposite
    5. Read a good novel
    6. Go over some famous poems
    7. Listen to other composers, how they struggled to get a good melody and development

    ... and forget all the above and just start over again.....

    Meaning of this all, there is no formulae, there is no clue. Just make one and the one among the 100 failed ones is the one that stuns the world.


  7. #7
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    I concur, no successful fool uses a formula. However, good counterpoint may be the essence of a foolproof melody.

  8. #8

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    The secret behind all great melodies is... turpentine.


  9. #9

    Re: the Secret of great melody

    It depends on what you mean by "great melody" ... a melody you think is great, or melody you want everyone else to think is great?

    There is no secret for the latter, obviously, as what makes a melody "great" is just too subjective. Not just because people have different opinions, but because familiarity and associated memories actually change the way different people perceive the same melody.

    But, while there can be no objectively universal "great melody", something I do to come up with a melody that I think is great is basically to steal from melodies I already love. That is, I try to identify what it is about the melodies I love, what specific notes, what pattern, what chord progression, etc... I try to mentally take it apart. Then I recombine them in some new way, with my own little twists. So all my compositions could really be called "variations on what I've heard before".

    I think this is what many (if not most) composers do mentally in some form or another, whether or not they're aware.

    So if you're struggling trying to come up with a good melody, I'd personally recommend collecting a few of your favorite melodies, smashing them apart, and building something new of the pieces.

    Ah, I think karvasika said a similar thing to what I just did. And, yes, I'd agree that melody can not be taught (or at least it's something you have to teach yourself, guided by your own musical sense). I said in my podcast: "If you don’t have a melody sense then I’m sorry, you can never be a composer. You should just quit now and never try to do it, ’cause it cannot be taught; it’s innate. And there’s no hope for you at all so stop trying." (Meant to be humurous, of course, but with a grain of truth... but I think almost everyone has the sense, it's just a matter of bringing it out.)

    Well, hope this helps... haven't posted here in a while...
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  10. #10

    Talking Re: the Secret of great melody

    Thank you all very much for your answers, I know exactly what your meaning. I guess I'm just curious about how everybody else think Thanks for sharing your thaughts.

    Quote Originally Posted by etLux View Post
    The secret behind all great melodies is... turpentine.

    Blast! and here I am working my ( )( ) of with beaver juice
    Regards Danial Zainali
    Reinvent powdered wigs!

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