Creating Better Melodies

Melodies can be tricky to find, invent and build – especially when we keep hearing the same thing in our head. So, how do you break the pattern? Melody mapping. It’s a visual way to find patterns and tendencies that you often repeat. Just changing a few of these items can create new songs in your catalogue.

And, by understanding the rhythms, chord structure, line lengths, lyrical meter that you are most comfortable with, you can create new patterns that simply go against those patterns.

There are a couple of exercises below to help you figure out:

(1) If your melodies have enough dynamically within the lines, from verse to chorus to verse then to bridge, to sound interesting, and

(2) Whether there are patterns you tend to follow, making your songs sound very similar

Pattern Exercises


Note: you don’t need a program or drawing software for this. Use your hand our flat in front of you and move it up and down with the notes while shooting a video selfie worst case!

STEP 1: Map Your Melody

Sing through your song and for each change in note in your melody, put a line above or below the last note of the line moving from left to right.

You should end up with a series of dashes that go up and down like a roller coaster.

Using the diagram below, if you have four lines and three notes per line in verse one, the sounds and pitch of the melody would be drawn like the VERSE 1 example below.  Chorus is next, and so on through all parts of the song.

STEP 2: Analyze Your Melody

Once you have your song mapped, look at the difference between where your verse ends and your chorus begins.

Are there significant differences between your song parts?

If not, and you’re writing for a country genre, move the line and launch the chorus.

Sing the change into your song.  Does it work.

STEP 3: Need to Rewrite Your Melody?

Use your diagram to find new melody versions by simply moving the lines up or down!


STEP 1:  Pick 5 of your songs

STEP 2: Complete an analysis of your songs

  • Chord frequency
    • Do you use certain chords in a recurring pattern
    • Do you always start your chorus on the one ( I ) chord? Try the IV or 7b
    • Do you only use full measure chords? Try a split measure (2 beats G, 2 beats C)
    • Are all four lines of your verse the same chords? Try mirroring 1 & 2 with one set of chords, and 3 & 4 with a different set in the key
  • Map out your melodies (see above)
  • Lyrically:
    • What’s the scene of your verse
    • What’s the big idea in the chorus
    • Phrase structure: do you end on a period at the end of each line; do you have no verbs, etc.
    • Where does the title occur – always at the end of the chorus?
    • Do you use imagery and sensory elements
  • Rhythm and groove
    • Do you always write in long line lengths
    • Do you end your lines in the middle of a phrase or it’s always a hard stop?
    • Are you always writing 4/4 time?

STEP 3: Note the patterns

STEP 4: What’s missing?

STEP 5: Give yourself 2 goals to change up some of this

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