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Music Fundamentals: Getting started making melodies

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    Music Fundamentals
  1. Choose a scale

    If you are new to writing melodies, a great place to start is by picking a scale. A scale is a family of notes that work together. With the Lightpad Block M, we’ve made it very easy to see which notes are in a particular scale. For example, if you select a specific scale in the NOISE app (scale button in the instruments page), you’ll find that you can easily follow the lights to create a melody that will always sound good.

    Here’s an example of a song that uses notes from the A major scale in its hook, which you’ll hear right at the beginning of the track:

    Here’s how it looks to play a simple melody in A major on the Lightpad Block:

    Here’s how it looks on the Seaboard Block:
    Tip: check out this page, here you can find all possible scales.
  2. Use only a few notes

    Once you’ve chosen a scale, you can narrow your options down even further to just a few notes within that scale. Forcing yourself to have fewer choices can be a helpful thing to stimulate your creativity!

    Here’s a nice example of this in the chorus of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect”:

    Here’s how it looks to play a melody with just a few notes on the Lightpad Block M:
    Here’s how it looks on the Seaboard Block:
  3. Repeat yourself

    Don’t worry about creating endless new ideas! Once you’ve found an idea you like, do what great songwriters do and repeat it over and over with some slight variations. Bonus: this repetition helps the song feel coherent.

    Here’s a song that does this well - and you’ll notice that the vocal melody in the pre-chorus and chorus each apply this concept in slightly different ways:

    Here’s how it looks to play a repeating melody on the Lightpad Block M:
    Here’s how it looks on the Seaboard Block:
  4. Add call and response

    One of the oldest melodic convention out there is call and response. One part of the melody calls out, and another part answers. The response can be an echo of the same melody or a different melody, long or short.

    You can hear an example of this short melodic response in a the pre-chorus and the chorus of this song:

    Here’s how it looks to build a call and response element into a loop using Lightpad Block M:
    Here’s how it looks on the Seaboard Block:
  5. Take it higher

    Another great technique to build interest in your song is adding in a key change. This means that if you have been using the scale (and key) of A major, you could move everything you are doing up one step to the scale (and key) of B major. The relationships between the notes of your melody will be the same, but everything will sound a little bit higher.

    Usually this is used as an arranging technique, so you might add another section to your song that repeats your main melody but is in a higher key.

    Beyonce uses key changes several times in “Love on Top” - and if you don’t hear it right away, watch for the costume changes that go along with the key changes!

    Here’s how it looks to make a key change using Lightpad Block M:
    Here’s how it looks on the Seaboard Block:
  6. Go deeper

    A few more pointers to help you get started making melodies:

    • Hum along as you work - is your melody easy to sing? If so, that’s a great start!
    • Start simply and find out what you like to sing and play, and what sounds good with the song you’re creating.
    • Most of all, enjoy yourself!

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