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I wanted to ask you how do you find your melodies?

And if you want your music should evoke a certain mood or theme, how do you go about that?

The most time when I start a new composition I have problems to get the right ideas for an entrance to compose a score about a certain theme and mostly the problem is to find the right melody.

I'd like to show you my newest fantasy score where I tried to evoke the right mood:

I like it but I am not sure about the melodies. Somehow I am not completely satisfied with them and I really don't know what to do to improve it and to make it more memorable.

I hope that you could help me!!

Thank you!!

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personnally I think I'd lead in with another measure or 2 of the drums

  it's an interesting beat and seems to set a mood   and end w/ a similar sound  to fade

 that's my 2 cents      food for thought

I think what makes music memorable is if it has not been done before. Your piece, while pleasant, seems to me to fit into the continuum of many many compositions I have heard before. Nothing in it strikes me as a new approach. Of course, this is my opinion alone. Best to you -

I think the character of what you are trying to express dictates whether the most dominant element will be melodic, or polyphonic ("harmony") or rhythmic -- or a combination.  If you search for the strongest element to express your idea, then the other parts usually follow.  Arbitrarily starting with the concept that you've got to have a melody seems to be forcing music into a pre-made mold.  What if what expresses your idea is a quick succession of dissonances and resolutions? The piece might not have an immediate melody at all, or only one that grows later from the fragments expressing the dissonance. 

One great way to learn how to organically grow your music is to do a very close examination of master works (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven for starters) and see how tiny fragments build and are extended in to full blown themes.  Beethoven was a master at this.  And what he did still applies regardless of the tonal or stylistic idiom.

What is the "melody" in the Penerecki Threnedy? I suppose some can dispute the value of this piece.  I don't.

For that matter the opening material of Beethoven's 5th is almost not a melody but a rhythm with falling third.  Or the Beethoven 3rd -- the first two "pillar chords" from which so much later grow. . . and the rhythmic hemiola -- these play through the structure of the music and MAKE the music grow.  It feels to me that Beethoven started with these ideas and his melodic material grew from it, not the other way around.

But I apologize for slightly derailing the subject -- it shouldn't become a debate over the value of melody.  And I don't mean it as that.  Melody is wonderful.  But it might not be the way "into" a composition to start.


I thank you very much for all your helpful answers!!! I really appreciate that!

In my last work (which you have listened to in my first post) I also started with an idea in my head when I thought of a busy and living fantasy city where there is a plenty of sun, harmony and traffic. But I had no ideas and so I simply loaded a percussion rhythm that evoke the general lively atmosphere of the city, but as a rhythmic motive the percussion is toooo complicated to be a memorable element of the music.....

Now I think a simple and catchy rhythm is a great start into a composition, because even if a melody follows, the melody will play this rhythm right? Or the harmony will play this rhythm, as Beethoven did in his 3rd symphony or Mozart in his Requiem or Hans Zimmer in "He's a Pirate" of the movie "Pirates of the Caribbean".

All catchy melodies or themes have simple rhythmic backgrounds.

But I really don't know how to make my compositions sound different from others. Maybe it's a matter of the instrumentation or the arrangement to use new and never heard (or at least rarely used) sounds or arrangement techniques. That alone should make a music different from others (from the "mainstream").

I also like to start with the harmony and with beautiful chords. Because the harmony evokes the general mood and it's easier to try different chord types. It's much easier for me to find great melodies over great harmony, but not vice versa.

My composition about the fantasy city was in a "wrong" tonality. It was major. I found out that a minor scale would be more appropriate for my goal. I played a simple C-minor chord but this chord sounds too sad and too serious, so I changed the chord and added the fourth (F) and the seventh (Bb) so I have Cm11 now. These option tones make the C-minor chord more tender and prettier. It's a beautiful chord and seems to be more appropriate for my score.

Now this is a first try with the Cm11 chord as the entrance with staccato strings and a piano melody:

I like this version much better than the first one. What do you think and what do you think about the harmony-method? Maybe I have finally found MY way to compose music.

Thanks for the tipp. Yes that was my next idea. I have so much ideas now when I listen to this music and so I think the music can live and grow now from my harmonic base. So thank you all again for the great help and tipps!

One more question: what about the different key signatures? Do they really have different colors or doesn't it matter which key I choose for a certain mood? I mean is it a difference when I play the same chords or melodies in C-minor or in F#-minor?

When dealing with real instruments and voices it always matters what keys you choose to use since it is easier/harder to play and intonate etc. in different registers of the range.

When it comes to writing melody I always sing a lot both in the process of making them up and to try their memorability. If I cant sing it I dont use it.

Thank you for your answer!

I think another problem of mine was that I don't used a style. I mean is it necessary to use the known styles like orchestra, pop music, ambient, electronic and so on for composing film music? Or can I use my "own" style? But that could sound unusual and strange to listeners when they hear "thrown together stuff" and no familiar music styles.

Hello, This is my first post/reply. I just joined the forum yesterday as a beginner composer. This subject caught my eye (finding melodies). First of all, I listened to your piece and it has a nice upbeat character. It was catchy and memorable (i.e. it will be stuck in my head a while now - ha!). So... onto how do I find melodies: I am a beginner player of violin, guitar, piano. I cannot sight read well at all but I can play a short melody or riff over and over. So, my music is riff/melody based. I cannot create melodies in my mind, so I first experiment with the instrument by playing semi-random notes at various durations and playing speeds. When I "accidentally" come across a melody that sounds interesting - I instantly record me playing it with my iphone and post it on you tube. Youtube is my file storage for new melodies. Then, after posting several melodies over a period of time, I listen to them on youtube to find melodies which could fit in a piece of music. I usually start with 2 to 4 melodies for a new piece I plan to write.  I then write the melodies in finale and chose a key and time signature which fits. With the melodies now on screen, I begin the process of repeats, transposing, appending, interweaving, etc. the melodies. In some areas, I create new melodies by literally messing around with the melodies in finale (reversal, inversion, replacement, etc.). I then move measures of music to various locations until the music flows in what to me sounds like a decent piece of music that I would enjoy listening to on the radio. So, my music is literally quite accidental. The mood depends on the melody and key and how the melodies flow from one to the other. I hope this helps.

The problem is…if I tell you, you won't use it.  You will find a way NOT to do what I would tell you.

Personally, I write based on an initial feeling that I get based on what inspired me to write a song. That probably won't help you much in and of itself, but once I catch hold of the feeling and idea that I want to try to go with it becomes easier to pick a melody. The vast majority of my works began on the piano, and while I'm self taught (not very well might I add), it's very easy to sit down, and pick out notes/chords that fit the mood I want the song to be in. For example, my latest piece, "Midnight Voyage", was based off a picture my sister drew. I saw it, and I felt that there was a story to be told and that I could possibly tell it with music. I constantly went back to the picture to try to imagine how things would unfold if the picture were a movie, and I wrote what I felt would fit the "mood" of the scene. Throughout the song, there were times when I would find what I wanted instantly, other times it was more trial and error, but it really helped me to piece together a few chords on the piano first before I started thinking about a true melody. I also tried to find other works that fit the tone/mood I wanted to go for, just to get an idea of what I should do with the song as I went along..... 

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