Step #5 of Writing Great Melodies – Repeat the Phrase
As most songwriters know, repetition is important when trying to write great melodies. After all, an earworm can only be formed if a melodic motif is drilled into a listener’s mind. However, we can’t just duplicate phrases note for note. We have to create variation in the phrases to help keep a song interesting.
This article is a summarised transcript of step five of our video “How to Write Great Melodies in 7 Simple Steps’’. Click here to watch the video for more details, explanations and examples.
How to Repeat a Phrase
For the purposes of explaining the concept of repetition, we’re going to call our phrase the combination of our melodic motif plus its rhythmic variation. For an example, view the picture below:
During repetition, we repeat the melodic phrase that we’ve come up with again. However, instead of copying the phrase, we have to ensure that we vary the repeat in some way. This can be done through methods such as going up the scale, moving the notes around slightly or changing the rhythm.
To help you build your melody quickly, 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”:
Changes in Chords Due to Repetition
Throughout this process of melodic repetition and variation, you may find other chords which work well with your melody, which are different to the initial 3 or 4 you picked to begin the song with.
This is normal because the first few chords we pick are just to establish the key and keep ourselves grounded. Those chords don’t have to be the only chords we use in the entire song.
Conclusion: Step #5 of Writing Great Melodies – Repeat the Phrase
It’s important for us as songwriters to remember that repetition is what breeds familiarity with a melody for our listeners. At the same time, enough variation must be used so that there are slight differences between repeats. This way, we can avoid sounding boring or repetitive.
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