Guitar Lessons

Writing a Melody

In the third week of the songwriting challenge we now have the main structure of the song written, so it's time to put a melody together! Check out the previous installment of this mini-series here to see how we got here.

We're writing a melody with the possibility that it could be turned into a vocal line. Although Dan has the voice of an angel, he has decided not to sing for these videos, but you can still create the melody on guitar, then put words to it later on.

Finding the Notes

For this song we decided on a key right away, and also decided to only use chords from within that key. This means that for our melody line we've got some very safe notes to use if we just play the major scale of the key we're in. In this case we're in A Major. So, the notes from A major scale will always either be in the chords we're playing over, or sound quite pleasant over the top.

It's great practice to learn how to play the notes in as many places as possible across the neck. As always, our CAGED system opens up the neck and allows us to play these chords anywhere!

Check out our CAGED courses free online to get started with the CAGED system to really unlock the fretboard.

Keep It Simple!

While it's difficult to overstate how useful it is to know your scales across the neck, simply being able to run them up and down isn't likely to create a memorable or catchy melody - you need to put some thought into what sounds like a good hook and often keeping it simple is the way to achieve that! Focus on your phrasing and listen to how each note sounds over the chords. Experiment with plenty of space and different rhythms too.

Fine Tuning

Once you start to get an idea together you can begin to fine-tune it. Remember, if it's going to be a vocal melody it needs to be in a comfortable range for your vocalist. Try playing in different octaves and remember to keep thinking about your phrasing! Here's the tab for the melody Dan came up with in the video:

Now you can try this with your own song. Remember to use your CAGED system to get the 'right' notes, then have fun with it! Check out the final installment of this mini-series here.

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