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Title: Creating Melodies
Date: 17-Aug-2007

By Wah Lok

  1. Before you start creating your melodies, you probably already know the message of your song and also the key phrase of the song. This is important as the mood of the music will depend very much on the message of the song.

    Eg. God is good - It should have a bright melody
    Heart of worship - slow and gentle
    When I survey the wondrous cross – serious and reflective as it talks of the cross.

    The best songs are usually written when you have a phrase that God has specifically spoken to you.

    Eg.1 "She moves her feet to dance" – when I first saw a girl coming to church in a wheel chair after she was struck with sickness and paralyzed. God told me she will dance one day.

    Eg 2. "Unheard Voices" – God spoke to me after a meeting where the speaker spoke about the great needs in the third world countries. God told me that there were billions of people living in poverty and dying . Their voices are unheard.

  2. Part of your melodies may sound the same like another song. Don’t worry too much about this. As you proceed, your music will diverge and it will not be similar anymore. If there are identical, change it later to create a variance. Melodic patterns repeat themselves in many songs.

  3. Make sure your melody and lyrics matches

  4. Melodies usually run in patterns. Create melodies with repetitive patterns. A song may only have 2 melodic patterns in the chorus and probably another 2 in the verses. If you have too many patterns, no one will be able to sing your song.


    When I survey – 2 melodic patterns in the whole song

    "I just called to say I love you" - 2 melodic patterns in chorus and 2 melodic patterns in the verse.

    Trading my sorrows – 2 patterns in chorus and 1 pattern in verse (yes Lord)

    Every Time I pray – 2 patterns in the chorus and 2 patterns in the verses.

    Ticket to heaven – 2 patterns in chorus and 2 patterns in verses

  5. Think of some nice melodic and rhythmic hooks to make your song interesting.

    This is how we overcome – Rhythmic hook

    Trading my sorrows – Hooks at the introduction

  6. The best melodies may come by inspiration. Record it immediately. You can always complete your song later. If you do not record it, you will forget the melody as soon as you leave it.

  7. Melody patterns changes with times. Keep your melodies current. You do not want to write melodies which are 20 years old. Usually it is the beats and syncopation which make the melodies change. Chords and inversions also do change with times.

    Eg. Every Time I Pray – R and B version recorded in year 2000 compared with the original version written in 1981.

    60s, 70s, 80s and 90s music are all different.

  8. Keep an eye on your melodic range. It depends what you want to use the song for. If you want the song for congregation singing, your highest note should be D above middle C. If you are writing for Michael Bolton, you can go as high as G above middle C.

  9. Usually verses and chorus run in 8 or 16 bars. These are very common. However for complex songs, they do run away from these bar numbers.

  10. You can only write up to the ability of your understanding of chords. Different chords change the moods of a tune. So build yourselves with a huge reservoir of chords and their progressions and the various styles so you have a lot of reserve to tap on when you create melodies.

C Am F G - 60’s

C Am7 Fsus G7 – 70s

C2 Am7+5 Dm7 D#o G7….. 80s – 90s


  1. Create an 8 or 16 bar chorus melody or verse.

  2. Check your melody against the following:-

  1. Make sure you have a theme and at least the key phrase.

  2. Check the number of melodic patterns you have in the 16 bars

  3. Do you have hooks ?

  4. Is melody current ?

  5. Is the melodic range okay ?

  6. Are the chords are interesting ?

  7. Is it easy to sing ?


If melody is good, work on it. If you are unhappy with it, throw it away and create a new melody. Do not be afraid to throw away average melodies. However, if you hit a good melody, keep it and take your time to develop the lyrics.

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