What makes a good melody #

Alright, I really love the systems I have for coming up with new chord progressions as well as the systems that I have for creating music with those chord progressions.

However, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a system down for coming up with melodies. I can crank them out relatively easily, but, as I’m cranking them out, they honestly don’t feel that good or interesting to me.

As a result, I’d like to revamp how I come up with melodies and develop a system that I really like.

I wrote an algorithm that combined randomly generated pentatonic phrases with notes matching the chord progression that relied on repeated phrases with variation. I won’t go into the details, but it did end up being pretty chaotic. In general, I’m not confident that I can trust a fully automated process. I think something like the process I have for chord progressions right now would be good, where i start with a very simple melody, try out simple and minor variations on voicings until i come up with something i’m overall quite happy with.

One of the things that’s definitely blocking me in terms of figuring out how to come up with exciting melodies is ear training, which will probably take a few months at the very least. I can’t really do anything about that more than I’m doing right now, so I’ll leave that alone for a bit.

One idea or perspective that I’m interesting in exploring is the idea that you can make a very dull melody exciting by playing around with timbre. A ton of vocal lines are melodically very simple, but you don’t notice that until you try and play that vocal line on a keyboard. When melodies are played on instruments, there’s all sorts of ways that musicians add dynamics to melodies to make them richer and more exciting. Exploring that in electronic music would also be potentially rewarding.

Of course, these things are fairly independant of one another. The ideal situation would be to have extremely strong melodies that stand on their own and to have them be voiced in a dynamic way.

Maybe the problem isn’t my methodology, but my habits. A decent amount of my frustration with writing melodies is from when I was sitting down and trying to make myself write ten melodies a day. In retrospect, this was exhausting and frustrating.

I have a new idea now, that maybe what I want is just some harmonic playground of an ableton live set, where I just accumulate melodies and chord progressions and compare them to how they sound against each other. if I build up enough combinations of them that end up sounding really compelling, i can pipe them into my songwriting setup and crank one out.

I would even go so far as to say that, I shouldn’t just write songs that way. I should try and find contests or remixes or collaborators that I can add on to get some exciting additions.