In the last thread I made someone mentioned humming melodies that come into your head so you don't forget them. This is good advice and I now have a melody that I have recorded and have written lyrics for. The trouble is that I don't have a guitar melody to go with it, and I'm not sure where to start writing one. The same is true in reverse, I have loads of instrumental ideas but I can't seem to add vocals unless I virtually follow the guitar melody almost exactly, which works for a couple of songs but gets boring and feels uninspired after a while.

So how do you guys merge your vocal and instrumental ideas? How do you tend to go about building a guitar melody around a vocal melody without just copying it?

I'm playing at an open mic night next week and want to play the song I'm currently working on l, but can't if the guitar parts and vocals are stubbornly separate. So any advice would be amazing.
Yea, it really pisses me off when a melody idea comes to mind and I'm in the middle of work. Humming doesn't always work at least not for me. It's something I really need to get better at.

When combining melodies, I just do what sounds good, trial and error style. As time goes by, trials and errors become less frequent. I spend time learning theory, but I rarely if ever am conscious of the theory when writing or playing, beyond note/chord names and modes. You can study counterpoint a bit if you like, and I love writing/playing baroque style counterpoint. Just don't get bogged down in the theory.

And realize that not every vocal melody needs a corresponding guitar melody, some just need a solid rhythm.
I don't think it's a good idea to combine two pre-conceived melodies. It's quite unlikely that they're going to fit.

If you get a tune for vocals, try harmonising it on the guitar instead of creating another melody.

As for the vocals copying the melody of the guitar, how about starting with that - a similar melody. Then start making changes in that melody to make it sound more autonomous and interesting.
You don't want to have two main melodies on top of each other (unless you are writing polyphonic music but that's another thing - I doubt you are trying to write a fugue or something like that). If you have a vocal melody, don't try to come up with another melody to play over it. Come up with an accompaniment. Listen to songs. Do they have many melodies on top of each other? Most of the time they don't. They may have some kind of a riff behind the melody (or some kind of an "ostinato", ie a short melody that repeats over and over again) and you could call that one kind of a melody, but the main point is that it is an accompaniment for the melody, it is not the main melody. Riffs are usually based on chords.

Too many strong melodies played at the same time will sound like a mess. So if you have a vocal melody, try to come up with chords or a bassline that would fit it.

If you have a guitar melody, you can change it to a vocal melody. As I said, usually songs have one main melody. If your melody is strong, it doesn't work as an accompaniment and it's hard to come up with another melody that would work with it. One thing is harmonizing the melody for example in thirds. But I would say forget about that for now. All you need is one melody and chords behind it. The rest is more about arrangement.

I have heard people say that a good pop song needs to work with just voice and a simple guitar accompaniment. So maybe start with that. Write a vocal melody and a simple guitar accompaniment for it (I mean, basic chords, nothing fancy). You can always make the arrangement more complex after that.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Feb 12, 2016,