Creating melodies is hard. It puts a lot of strain on the creative part of our brain, and it’s not hard to see why most producers get writer’s block regularly! Over the past year, my team and I have produced over 1,000 high-quality melodies, and I can’t wait to teach you our secrets.
My name is Luke and I’m the founder of WavGrind.com, and I can’t wait to get into this guide. Being able to produce a good melody quickly and effectively in any style is an invaluable skill that any producer will benefit from!
First: The Scale
The backbone of any melody is the actual scale you will be following. If you don’t know the scale, you will just be guessing which notes to use and hope it sounds good. This scale is also what the melody, bass, and vocals follow.
An easy way to follow the notes in your scale is to use a scale tool that comes with most DAWs. For this example, I’m going to use FL Studio and the inbuilt scale builder. I’m going to select Minor 9th, and click on C.
I’m going to repeat this process for the octaves above and below.
I’m then going to turn on ghost notes so that I can see the scale in the background when creating a melody. This is the melody I created.
I personally don’t know too much music theory, and can really struggle with creating melodies by ear. However, when I had the scale in the background to look at, essentially everything I clicked in sounded perfect! Do you ever wake up and listen to the track you created the night before, and realize it sucked?
The chance of this happening is so much lower when you know for sure that all the notes are on the right scale. Better yet, it’s SO easy to create a bassline that is in key because you can follow the same notes that the melody follows. Just make sure that the bass samples you use are tuned to C!
Counter melodies and supporting melodies:
Once you have this first melody created, you may want to add more layers or create some different melodies to substitute later. For example, I created this supporting melody here:
This is a simpler version of the main melody which follows the root notes. One very important tip is to keep the supporting melody in a different octave to the main melody. Having 2 melodies playing most of their notes in the same octave causes the EQ ranges to crash, and can make mixing a nightmare.
You can simply duplicate your first melody, move it up or down an octave, and make it simpler. It’s that easy!
For counter melodies, try adding some melodies in a higher octave. I tend to not create chords, and stick to using 1 note at a time. For example:
Bonus tip: EQing melodies
Melodies can clash together very easily, especially if you have more than 1, or use VSTs/melody one shots that are very wide. Not only will the melodies crash with other melodies, but they can also crash with your bass, vocals (if any), and some of the drums.
One way I like to help the melodies fit into the mix is to add a high pass and low pass filter on the melodies. I cut into the melody until I start to hear its effect on how it sounds. Most of the low and high frequencies are barely audible, but will make the mix sound “muddy”.
This melody sounds almost identical after applying this EQ but will clash much less with any other layers. I hope you learned a lot from this guide, and use it to create high-quality melodies! If you’re looking for royalty-free samples and MIDI packs, check out WavGrind.com here.