Thursday, December 14, 2006

Successful melodies

Today I worked with Ben Senterfit on melodies. Ben described successful melodies as:
  • Hear it once and then remember it
  • Should be hum-able.
  • Don't need the lyrics to remember it (for example, the melody of Satisfaction)
Ben described two melody strategies:
  1. A lot of chord changes, with a simple melody (example, Georgia on my Mind).
  2. Simple chord changes, complex melody (example, bluegrass music)

To work on melodies, I recorded a song and then played a simple lead. I then tried to follow the lead with my voice. Ben pointed out that I was using the pentatonic scale for my lead and that most successful melodies are based on the pentatonic scale.

In our discussion, it became readily apparent that in my songwriting, I've focused on strong chords and lyrics. Most of my melodies, however, have been very limited, staying in the comfort zone of my voice. To expand my melodies, I will be practicing singing to various arrangements of the pentatonic scale (for example, I,II, III, V, or I, V, III). Each variation is in itself a new melody line.

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