Need help with leads and melody.

Apr 2, 2012

  1. CunningLinguist Unimatrix Zero

    30,340 posts
    Since Apr 20, 2001
    I can make beats that sound good (to me anyway) but Every time I try to sequnce a lead or melody, it ends up sounding corny. Take me through your sequencing a lead. Do you get inspiration from other music or what?

    I seem to be stuck.
  2. Skypear

    520 posts
    Since Mar 7, 2008
    Begin with something simple like a chord or nursery rhyme then improvise on it, corny.

    Follow the moods of your keyboard patches. Count out syllables, try using different timing. Fade them in and out. Use swing. Accent the offbeats, try some staccato. Play with the mod wheel and pitch bend up. Use the glossary of a music theory book for tricks. I struggle with melodies too. There are lot's of good ideas in old folk songs or church hymns.
  3. CunningLinguist Unimatrix Zero

    30,340 posts
    Since Apr 20, 2001
    Some great advice, thanks. I think I'll start with a simple chord and explore it's natural progressions - removing or adding notes if it feels right.
  4. satboy Banned by DOA

    744 posts
    Since Mar 10, 2012
    i usually take every single scale and play them in order to see which fits. when i find something which gets close, i try to improvise. if i succeed making something which surprises me, i stop the recording and save the last minute of the resulting sausage. then i go to the next scale. for ONE "pretty decent" melody i usually end up with around 20-25 "pretty interesting" ones... those go right beside the "pretty interesting" breaks folder :ana:

    by the way having a bassline restricts your choices pretty much... unless you are into counterpoint :spliff:
  5. JStyle kata ton daimona eaytoy

    5,175 posts
    Since Feb 23, 2006
    you could use a sample, or just write around it
  6. Andydextruss Something

    12,159 posts
    Since Feb 17, 2004
    Either hit notes on the keyboard until a few sound good in sequence then slowly (and painfully) add more notes to it until it's longer. This way usually gets me 2-3 good notes that form the basis of something good but it's long trying to get a really good melody going (works well for reeses where modulation/pitch bends will provide the variation).

    Another way is basically the same as satboys (okay you do make some useful posts, sorry), I pick a scale and move notes around until something works. I'll either pick a pad and try chords (I'm shit at them though) or a plucky synth and try more intricate things.

    Download some MIDI files (retro game soundtracks, rock tunes, trance, whatever) and try them with a few synth patches, you usually find a few little bits you can use. Think of it as a scale you can audition first to get the 'feel' of it.

    Sample something cool (synth riff (preset demos on youtube), guitar solo, piano etc) and work out the notes in it (Mixed In Key should help but there are loads of programs that will find the notes) then use them with your own sounds (basically the same as using MIDI files except you have to work out the notes on your own).

    Use arpeggiators/delays/trance gates to make a simple few notes sound interesting and more complex.
  7. Ibunshi Mpc Pilot

    8,402 posts
    Since Jun 8, 2007
    i have zero knowledge i'd say, but i can still make stuff that sounds pleasing (to my ears anyway :teeth:) with a very simple method.. which already have been mentioned really, but i'll explain why i think it is so good and simple in the hope that more tries it out

    first, i dont like to use a metronome and like to use internal timing or drums if there is supposed to be drums.. so i always start with drums

    anyway, here's what i do and i think an absolute beginner could do this too, even if more trial and error might be needed, but think it's a good start as it can allow you to get great results just as being a part of you practicing.. no theory involved, just hands on action..

    so as said already, start by finding and making a basic chord progression, maybe start with 4 chords.. using a keyboard is extremely useful.. play them to your beat and try to get them involved with the rhythm, (which is why i dont like to just use a metronome, as it kinda prevents/distracts me from getting into the actual rhythm of the beat it is supposed to go with, so usually i just loop a section of my finished drum track and jam to that as then i can hear accentuations etc, and where the driving main hits are in the rhythm.. i never really got why people use a metronome if there is a rhythm already, to me it looks more like the goal to get perfect timing separates you from the music rather than getting yourself involved with it blabla... a friend of mine always use metronome, but maybe he's the odd one :teeth:)

    next i usually add a bassline, and this time as i got some chords already i can just use the same notes that was used there, and then its really just a matter of getting a rhythm, a groove that follows both the chords and the beat.. if you do like me and jam/improvise whilst recording midi, then you can in a way put a little bit more focus on the rhythm, as you can always edit sour notes afterwards and place them where they stroke well.. the result may be a little less stiff, as you try to get your own internal groove into it, which tend to be a bit harder to do by dropping notes with a mouse i think, but melodies will work just as fine when using the mouse to fix sour notes, as you dont take away anything from the emotion it can carry, but if doing the same with a rhythm, you kinda do take away some of the feeling unless you hit exactly right!

    then its the same with lead and melodies as with the bassline.. you know the notes used in the chords and which notes works well together for that, and so atleast you got those notes over all the octaves to use and it should be enough to create sequences and riffs etc that follows those chords and also the rhythm.. i think the hardest part is the rhythm and sequencing to get nice combinations.. i think that is far harder than finding notes that sounds pleasing together, but then i have have only been fiddling around with certain keys mostly when practicing so its probably just that i know them a little better

    i never used this method when i first started out though, but i wish i had because after just a year or two of doing this by myself now, i have noticed that it works pretty damn well, and so if i had gotten into that way back, then i should have become pretty good by now i reckon, and also be able to do a lot more.. i dont put much focus on trying to make great melodies right now, to me its more about trying to get fluid enough so that those things flow better later on for more involving and "better" feeling
  8. satboy Banned by DOA

    744 posts
    Since Mar 10, 2012

    a 3 minute track of Bach or Beethoven usually contains more than 30-40 longish riffs that if looped will never get boring (well almost...)
  9. Flex Vector

    Flex Vector
    67 posts
    Since May 13, 2009
    I have a hard time with melodies a lot of the time too. A couple things I've fond that help me:

    It's really hard (for me, at least) to come up with a good melody if I don't have some kind of chord progression or something to work off of. Since I usually start tracks with the drums, what I find sometimes helps is to import a song from my music collection that kind of works with my beat and then improvise leads and melodies over it. Once I have something I like I can then just delete the song I imported and carry on with the other elements of the track. Whenever I listen to other people's music, especially non-electronic stuff, I always start to hear melodies in my head so I find this is a good way to get inspiration.

    Another thing I do sometimes is just draw out a bunch of the same note in the piano roll and place them so they work well rhythmically with my drums. Then I just move the notes up and down until I come up with a melody. Usually I'll have a specific scale in mind when I do this, but not always.

    Lastly, I'm not a very good keyboard player so I tend to get stuck in playing similar patterns over and over so sometimes I'll write a melody with a guitar first and then recreate it with a synth. I'm not the greatest guitar player either, but I often get better or at least different results when I write with the guitar.
  10. Ibunshi Mpc Pilot

    8,402 posts
    Since Jun 8, 2007

    ..if you can place notes so that they work with rhythms of the drums, and then afterwards try to get the notes into a melody..

    ..then maybe, if you havent already -try to do the same with the keyboard.. play it as if you where adding drumhits to the drum pattern (maybe think the melody in your head at the same time, and do it even if you hit the wrong notes here and there which may or may not be distracting).. then fix the notes afterwards if you dont get them right the first time.. the good thing about this imo is that you can put focus on the pattern, and so if you just jam around, you can variate yourself and maybe not get stuck in those similar patterns, in a way it works the same as if you were to tap out beats with your fingers on the table, something that most people can do, you just get the sound of fingers against the table, but you cn still have an idea what kind of sounds you are playing, kick, snare ghoststing etc, so this waht you are doing the same, just with a melody instead (if that makes sense).... if you also skip things like metronome and look at patterns that might be less common to you, then you will probably break out of if just from jamming to new patterns.. so maybe program new drum patterns to start with, or find loops and breaks that you like but that might offer something new rhythmically.. and why use a the keyboard instead of piano roll? you get that human feeling and the speed of hands on direct access, and you can put all focus on playing.. when on a piano roll, you may need to start and stop a lot, or try to be fast just so that you can place notes ahead of time just to not have to wait until stuff loops just so yiu can hear the result.. so on the keyboard you can physically get into the rhythm more, easier to make little riffs and accentuations that you do in realtime rather than trying to get it out of your head onto visuals on screen, which then has to translate into someting pleasing that you hear.. and so things can easily get lost in the translation just from having to go through middlr hands so to speak :P
  11. mr meh

    mr meh
    568 posts
    Since Jan 10, 2011
    I've been having the same problem. So what i did was find some pro tunes that i like that have ONLY the bassline playing before the drop for like 4-8 bars or whatever. Sample that, then chuck it into Melodyne and it shows which notes are being played and for how long = instant access into how pro's play their basslines :slayer::slayer:

    Of course, i dont copy that tho. It just gives me some ideas when im stuck :tea:
  12. c_bomb see you next tuesday

    81 posts
    Since Mar 31, 2012
  13. Eli Rorschach

    Eli Rorschach
    451 posts
    Since Jun 18, 2011
    lol @ trial & error methods!

    No wonder you guys are struggling to get tunes out. Afaik, every pro out there uses the Vanguard standards, and have done since the earliest days of dance music.

    These are the 128 basslines, chord progressions and leads which form the basis of contemporary Black music, and just about every dance tune breaks down to a combination of three standards. And the great thing with them is they ALL work together - they all evolved out of 100s of thousands of man-hours of people playing and improvising Jazz, Blues, and eventually they found 128 of each which form what's known as the polymorphic harmonies. (And these are quite complicated from a musicology point of view: increasing one note by a 1/16th could throw all the harmonies off - polymorphic theory welds syncopation to harmony, and that's what dance music came out of.)

    All Alex Reece, all Ed Rush & Optical, all Roni Size, Goldie, Break and some newer artists just use Vanguards chopped in half (first half bassline, second half of a chord pattern), Black Science Labs: 100% standards, Dubstep uses them.

    So yeah, if you can get a copy of Martin Evans' Vanguard Standards in a s/h book store, don't hesitate. You'll find it on every producer's shelf, and usually another copy next to their desk. Only problem is it can make the whole process feel a bit too easy! It's basically sampling melody.
  14. satboy Banned by DOA

    744 posts
    Since Mar 10, 2012
  15. Soulstice

    745 posts
    Since Jan 18, 2010

    I highly doubt goldie understands music theory!

    But you're right, this is why a lot of people struggle to release tracks, they are trying to make music with zero music knowledge.
  16. luthatron \o/ ♫♪♫♩♬♭♫♪♫♩♬♭♫♪♫♩♬♭ \o/

    46,216 posts
    Since Feb 3, 2004
    you might want to tone down the racism.

    just a suggestion!
  17. Pyro

    8,975 posts
    Since Feb 25, 2001
    creative :laughing:
  18. satboy Banned by DOA

    744 posts
    Since Mar 10, 2012
    gee you posted just in the same second i edited it. i thought people might confuse BATCH-JAW with something else.
  19. roringtonsmithe Hey, you're alright.

    571 posts
    Since Feb 1, 2010
    Job done.
  20. DvC

    5,041 posts
    Since Jun 9, 2004
    No such book? Sure you got it right?
  21. satboy Banned by DOA

    744 posts
    Since Mar 10, 2012
  22. Konstant Old Member

    6,740 posts
    Since Mar 4, 2002


    It's not rocket science but people need to have some knowledge of how music works, that's how music is made. It's gotta be insanely tedious to try and find melodies simply through trial and error. Melodies that don't sound good are probably not in key, with simple theory knowledge that's an error that can be fixed immediately. Once you know which notes work with the key you're working in, you can concentrate on actually writing music.
    No offense but converting other people's music into midi and using that midi to start melodies with is such a back-assward way of creating music. If writing music is a constant struggle for someone, maybe they should pick a new hobby, or become an engineer... (This is not directed at anyone in particular)
  23. satboy Banned by DOA

    744 posts
    Since Mar 10, 2012
    Konstant you are so stupid i bet you are Mossadboys brother. I think you should become a chickencottagecleaner.

    i would take 100 guys who produce shit music but desire to do better (and eventually, in 2-4 years they will, through sheer willpower, progressively refined ear and auto-didactic methods) than 2 jaws who just recycle what others found through FUCKIN TRIAL AND ERROR with the sole purpose of MAKING PROFIT OUT OF MUSIC.

    you should be ashamed of yourselves
  24. Eli Rorschach

    Eli Rorschach
    451 posts
    Since Jun 18, 2011
    Nah, it's about having a foundation. You've got 1,000s of years of musical knowledge you can build on, or you can be an angry little boy playing random notes believing he'll turn into a genius.

    You're just as likely to reinforce bad habits without any guidance. Your idea of playing every scale is ridiculous. That's the kind of thing an ounce of musical knowledge would help you out with. Asking about building an "EDM" cafe when you don't know the first thing about how a business works. I'd love to see how far sheer willpower's taken you - as far I can tell: mentally ill and ranting on a forum.
  25. Ibunshi Mpc Pilot

    8,402 posts
    Since Jun 8, 2007
    do you play and build your own instruments in your music? use breaks? use software or other tools people has made based upon knowledge gained and collected by others?

    if you dont create everything absolutely by yourself (impossible btw) and if you use programs and other tools and instruments, or samples and breaks created by others, then you are not really doing anything different than someone that is making music using the documented knowledge of other peoples work, you are just using others work to save time.

    you cant really win here, because if you were doing all that (doing it all by "yourself"), then most likely you would not seek up a music forum like this, you'd probably be extremely if not completely isolated from the rest of the humanity, lol

    you could argue that you are being more original or getting more original results because you choose to use those tools differently, but the same could be said about anyone that is reading a book or studying and memorising music theory.. he may be more inclined to just repeat things exactly as he learnt, especially if his goal is very specific (just as a peson may be more inclined to use his tools in the way they originally were meant for).. but he could still step out of the box a bit and do as he please with that knowledge, or tool.. he's not forced to do do things in a very specific way..

    edit: anyway.. i see no point in arguing agaisnt any method, as things work differently for different individuals.. some people learn better from reading and following examples in a book, others from trying to figure things out by themselves as it may sink in better then.. and thats where your decisions should come from, personal experience.. in general though, reading and studying and having teachers leading you will help more people rather than if they all had to start from scratch when learning.
  26. W1ntle professional ***** lurker

    454 posts
    Since Aug 25, 2009
    its all about that intial jam on the keyboard/pads.....then just tweak it around add a few extra hits etc...time and paticence will prevail and a nice little melody WILL come you will know when its right..

    then reverse it :teeth:
  27. DrTiTus Finger rollin rhythm

    577 posts
    Since May 16, 2005
    Here's an example of something I've made by taking someone's melody/MIDI (in this case Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata) and making my own song with it, basically copying the first part of the chord progression/song and substituting my own pattern based on the notes present until it sounded "OK".

    I have no musical training, and I don't really think that what I've done is "correct" [especially the guitar which is kind of in its own world], but it was a fun exercise, and I actually quite like the result. The recording had a whine in it, so I added the cricket chirps to make it sound like it was intentional :P

    NB: I was drunk, hence the title...
  28. CunningLinguist Unimatrix Zero

    30,340 posts
    Since Apr 20, 2001
    Wow, an entire arsenal of information here. I think the problem I've been having was simple ignorance. My music knowledge is limited to recognizing notation. And I learned that from a coked out ex roadie while learning to play guitar in my teens.

    Perhaps a few classes in beginner music theory at my local uni will help me.
  29. Andydextruss Something

    12,159 posts
    Since Feb 17, 2004
  30. luthatron \o/ ♫♪♫♩♬♭♫♪♫♩♬♭♫♪♫♩♬♭ \o/

    46,216 posts
    Since Feb 3, 2004
    learn some chords and scales. learn what they sound like and how they sound different from each other.