Step #2 of Writing Great Melodies – Create a 4 Note Melody
Songwriters commonly assume that using as many notes as possible in your melody is a great thing to do. However, the truth is that when you first start composing a melody, it’s best to limit yourself to using 4 notes from the scale. In this blog post, we’ll discuss creating a 4 note melody as part of the melody writing process.
This article is a summarised transcript of step two of our video “How to Write Great Melodies in 7 Simple Steps’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
Why Pick Only 4 Notes?
There are 3 main reasons to limit yourself to 4 notes. They are as follows:
- Encouraging creativity: By imposing limitations, you encourage yourself to work within those limitations. Thus, you also encourage yourself to be more creative with limited materials.
- Avoid sounding like an exercise: When you use all 7 notes of the scale, it often tends to sound like you’re just running a scale. This makes melodies boring and sound like exercises.
- Reserve material for other parts of the song: It’s important to leave some of the notes for you to use in other parts of the songs. Having somewhere to go is what gives melodies a sense of purpose and a journey to follow.
How to Use 4 Notes to Create a Melody
Before trying to create a melody with 4 notes, be sure that you’ve picked your scale, key and chord progression.
If you need some help, click here to download a free PDF eBook containing all the diatonic chords written out in 6 different keys titled “Diatonic Chords in 6 Different Keys”:
A really important thing to establish at this point is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. In further steps, we’ll be refining and creating different iterations of this melody to work with. Start by singing the 4 notes you’ve chosen over the chord progression you’ve chosen. Experiment with different combinations of the notes and remember to try and keep it simple, as simplicity at this point is key.
Conclusion: Step #2 of Writing Great Melodies – Create a 4 Note Melody
By limiting yourself to four notes initially, you create a foundation upon which you can build an engaging melody. Through experimentation, you’ll be able to compose great melodies that work well over your chord progression.
Level up your songwriting with five radically practical exercises used by professional songwriters around the world: