Hi, I am new to this forum. I need help with my songwriting. I have recently written a couple songs that sound a lot like other songs. I write my own lyrics, I just can't seem to come up with decent melodies to accompany them. I listen to a lot of music for inspiration and pleasure. How can I keep myself from accidentally stealing melodies? Thanks in advance!
Here's whats helped me over the years (not that I'm good, by any means haha)

  • Listen to lots of different pieces of music. Try to work the different things you enjoy into your own music in some way. Experiment.
  • If you find something you think is familiar, in any way, change something about it. Skip a beat. Change a note, or rhythm.
  • Don't stress too much, because a lot of music has been written over the course of human history and you're never going to be 100% original.
  • Keep writing. The more you write the more you'll find things you write sounding more original. This is you developing "your sound".
  • Don't settle for "sounding a lot like other songs". Keep tweaking, experimenting, altering melodies until you're more comfortable with them.
It's mental.

I remember when I first started getting better, after playing a couple years, I would come up with stuff that was similar to what I listened to (Metallica...Megadeth), but "different" in weird ways. Mentally, I was "afraid" to "go with it". We are talking late 80's early 90's here...before the mid/late 90's "alt metal" type stuff came out. I wish I had stuck with it because tons of bands got recognized.

I would hear things like Creed (Tremonti)...S.O.A.D...Korn....and I was like "WTF...that sounds like the shit I was coming up with...etc". But, I stuck to the formula because that stuff sounded too simple or weird when I was coming up with it. So I stuck to my standard riffs/shredding stuff.

Anyhow...my point is....take those songs you wrote, and add your own flavor or different things to it and go with it, even if they don't sound right. It's very hard when you are first learning (first few years), to NOT play what you listen to....it's natural. But at some point you have to move out of your parents house (musically) and run with it. It's not comfortable, but it's the way new ground is broken.

The most important thing is to not worry about sounding completely original - you won't. Nobody does. What successful bands/musicians do is they take what they know and add their own flavor to it. Don't throw a song away because it sounds like somebody else. Just put your own stuff throughout it to make it at least a little different.
Last edited by pressureproject at Jul 21, 2016,
What I do is listen to lots of music (both songs and video game music) for at least an 1 1/2 hours and then almost immediately write something down and/or record an improvised melody. This allows you to come up with highly inspired melodies that don't directly rip off anything. Another strategy I use is group 10 to 12 pieces by a theme and write something inspired by the overall feel. This is just what I do to come up with licks/riffs/melodies buy it might help you too.
"I don't know what you're trying to suggest. There's no shame in taking what you need to hold your position!"

Super Buu (DBZ) on assimilation (it could also apply to blues guitar and guitar soloing in general).