The Easy Way to Write Hit Melodies

To write stronger, memorable, singalongable tunes, here’s the process I use. It has worked for 92% of my clients. The 8% who didn’t have success, just plain didn’t do it.

My way isn’t the only way to write a melody, but if you are having issues with this part of your songs, here are six quick steps that work. 

When my songwriter clients send me their songs for consultation, and there is a problem with their tunes, it’s usually because these writers are playing chords, expecting them to do the melody’s job. They can’t. But when the notes come first, voila.

The entire second chapter of the fifth edition of my book, “How To Write a Hit Song”, is about writing stronger melodies. All of chapter eleven in “How To Be a Hit Songwriter” focuses exclusively on advanced melody construction. 

In both books, I define a melody as a series of single notes, with rhythm – something we hum or whistle.

Here’s how I write a melody. There are 532 songs that are now on or have been on the charts because the writers tried this process:

l. Put your guitar aside for now. I know that sounds blasphemous, but when you change the process, you can change the result. C’mon. Try it.

2. At a keyboard, keep your left hand behind your back, while you choose individual notes with one finger on your right hand. Don’t play chords. Just choose notes. I’m watching…

3. Record everything. Listen back, tweak what you’ve got, record, listen, tweak, record again, listen again, tweak, record. Repeat this for a week. Save all takes. Then, at the end of that week, listen to everything.

4. Assuming you like what you’ve written and rewritten, use those notes – no chords – just those notes – as your chorus melody.

5. Repeat the process for the verse melody, then the bridge, making sure the rhythm and melody of each section are completely different from the other two, and from anybody else’s song.

6. When you’re satisfied that the melody of each section is original and irresistibly singalongable, THEN add the chords.

Tell me what you’d like me to write about in subsequent columns. 2012 is the year I’ve dedicated to my clients learning their craft.

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Molly-Ann Molly-Ann Leikin