#1
Hey all.

I'm currently 15, and I've been screwing around a little on my guitar and came out with some cool stuff. Diversity is a good way to put it; I have a few chord songs to a distorted all-power chord song, to some Dinosaur Jr/Led Zeppelin stuff going on. I'm honestly surprised at what I've done in the past few months, and I've even begun writing solos (none I'd keep, but theyre improving).

However, I've yet to write a vocal melody. I plan to just throw a demo on Audacity and put a vocal track on, but I really don't know how to find one; I have some lyrics to screw around with, but I'd rather form some lyrics around a vocal melody; and I've never really created anything I'd listen to.

I don't want to rush this. I hold myself to an extremely high standard for songwriting so I can develope good habits. I'm not a music theory guy; I can barely decide what key my song is in, and not much else. Besides a couple scales and fretboard knowledge, I'm on my own.

Any tips/tricks fellow songwriters have? I've developed enough instrumentals to shift my focus.

Thanks, Dan.
There's room for all of God's creatures; Right next to the mashed potatoes.
#2
my big thing is something i picked up from listening to metallica demos, sit down and hum / sing along with it, figure out a good natural melody and then work with the words to see how they'll fit.
#3
You're not gonna like hearing this, but take it from someone who tried to do exactly what you're doing and failed horribly... unless you've got an excellent ear, you should probably figure out how to assign a key to your song and harmonize notes to chords before you attempt this.
#4
Quote by CarsonStevens
You're not gonna like hearing this, but take it from someone who tried to do exactly what you're doing and failed horribly... unless you've got an excellent ear, you should probably figure out how to assign a key to your song and harmonize notes to chords before you attempt this.


I'd learn that. Recommend any UG lessons if available?
There's room for all of God's creatures; Right next to the mashed potatoes.
#5
Quote by CarsonStevens
You're not gonna like hearing this, but take it from someone who tried to do exactly what you're doing and failed horribly... unless you've got an excellent ear, you should probably figure out how to assign a key to your song and harmonize notes to chords before you attempt this.
An excellent ear? If you can't hear a suitable melody in your head then you have a problem. I am usually an advocate of theory, but theory won't fix that.

Take z4twenny's advice.
#6
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
An excellent ear? If you can't hear a suitable melody in your head then you have a problem. I am usually an advocate of theory, but theory won't fix that.


there's a big difference from being able to hear a melody in your head and being able to play that melody immediately on an instrument.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#7
Quote by AeolianWolf
there's a big difference from being able to hear a melody in your head and being able to play that melody immediately on an instrument.
Remember, this is a vocal melody we're talking about. (Yes, I know some vocal melodies are hard to sing)
#8
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
Remember, this is a vocal melody we're talking about. (Yes, I know some vocal melodies are hard to sing)


ah, yes.

so basically, TS, there are no tips/tricks -- if you don't know theory and nothing fantastic is coming to you, your only option is basically a guess and check deal.

if i were you, i'd use the guess and check method...but i'd also be training my ear and studying theory. no reason you have to wait until you're a master before you can write a simple vocal melody.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#9
I've heard RHCP and Sting both say they sort out the music first and then take a recording of it so far, sit with a pad, pen and something to record their vocals in to and just sing melodies/write down their ideas. Eventually they put it all together and it becomes a song.

Learning music theory and such will help you out. Just keeping trying different stuff and eventually you'll start finding your thing. I just finished writing my first album and I still wonder if there's a "way" to write, but it changes a little each time.


EDIT: if you've got the vocal melody and nothing else, then work the other way. Get the melody down, listen to it and try piece riffs/chords to it.
Last edited by rocknrollstar at Dec 8, 2011,
#10
Your voice doesn't have the notes naturally laid out like a piano or guitar etc. This means you first got to train ur voice to understand how you can sing nice over chords. I'd say you can best achieve this by learning to sing songs of your favourite artists.

You get to internalize how to sing over chords, and learn to sing different interval distances.

Also, It's more about melody alone in singing. You need to think of the vowels you are going to use for the longer notes in the melody.

You likely don't want to hold a note on the "shhhhhhhhh" as in fish, cause that's not the nicest of sounds.

Rather you want something like aah's or ooh's. Like "I won't let you gooooooo" or "I traveled so faaaaaar".

These are just basic guidelines, and maybe you create an epic vocal melody holding the "ssshhhhhh" sound. Although they often sound nasty on recordings or are completely filtered away.

TL;DR

Sing songs of your favourite artists, preferably without the original track, and with a guitar or piano.

Even better is to figure out, or grab tab with the vocal melody included, and play and sing that melody at the same time (if you can). To really internalize the notes in ur voice.

Hope it helps

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Dec 8, 2011,
#11
Quote by AeolianWolf
ah, yes.

so basically, TS, there are no tips/tricks -- if you don't know theory and nothing fantastic is coming to you, your only option is basically a guess and check deal.

if i were you, i'd use the guess and check method...but i'd also be training my ear and studying theory. no reason you have to wait until you're a master before you can write a simple vocal melody.


This is kind of what I was getting at. Saying you needed an "excellent" ear was probably a poor choice of words.

I found it a lot easier to write vocal melodies when I had a clue as to what notes sounded good over the chords I was writing to. Otherwise I was, as AW stated, guessing and checking. It only worked (and barely at that) by virtue of my being able to suss out that what I was singing harmonized properly. Even then, I didn't know why it worked, just that it did.
#12
I usually just grab my acoustic guitar and play the chord progression. As I'm playing, I'll run various vocal melody lines in my head, including various phrasing and pitch intervals..........rinse and repeat. When I hear something I like or that fits well, I'll lock into it and start to develop lyrics around it. Of course, it is a work in progress and can be changed or modified as desired.
#13
when i started writing, i wrote for instruments first, and then did the vocal melody last. like you, i did not have a very firm grasp on theory beyond some scale patterns and chord shapes.

the problem i hit with that method was that although it works, it sometimes tends to produce a weak vocal melody because it's almost written as an after thought. in popular music, the focus is generally on the vocal melody, so you need for it to be strong.

so to fix this, i started focusing on the vocal melody first. i take what i think is a good, strong melody and then figure out which chords sound nice with it. so basically, i will take the melody and construct a very simple bare-bones arrangement consisting of only the vocal melody and some simple chords.

from there, i will start writing riffs on guitar that correspond to the chord progression. then its's time to start writing lines for bass, piano, whatever. once you have a solid progression laid out, its pretty easy to keep on embellishing it to get more texture and overall a more interesting arrangement.

also, if you have the goal of writing an album, i think this method is quite effective because it allows you to write a set of simple songs relatively quickly, rather than slaving away trying to perfect one song, then moving to the next song and doing the same thing. writing a batch of songs with simple arrangements in a short time period allows for more continuity form song to song.

this has worked for me, maybe it will for you as well. good luck!
#14
You're not gonna like hearing this, but take it from someone who tried to do exactly what you're doing and failed horribly... unless you've got an excellent ear, you should probably figure out how to assign a key to your song and harmonize notes to chords before you attempt this.
#15
Quote by jacobblack15
You're not gonna like hearing this, but take it from someone who tried to do exactly what you're doing and failed horribly... unless you've got an excellent ear, you should probably figure out how to assign a key to your song and harmonize notes to chords before you attempt this.


you're not going to like hearing this, but take it from someone who's actually competent enough to not have to do what you're doing and succeed wildly...

unless you've got no legs, you should probably figure out what to do with your life so you aren't totally useless before you attempt to help people.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#16
I often find that there is an implied vocal melody hidden, when I listen to a song with all the riffs and music and rhythms finished, it should come natural to find the implied melody (according to you)
#18
Quote by CarsonStevens
Just so I'm clear... are you blasting jacob for blindly quoting my post or are you blasting me for my point of view?


the former lol. i happen to agree with the post, so i was kind of conflicted about bashing it.

but where's the fun in letting it slide?
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.