Sunday, March 1, 2009

Making a song

Songwriting is partially based upon repetition. You have the basic construct, verse leading to the chorus, repeated throughout the song with maybe a bridge along the way. A song will not "catch" if there's no melodic hook to hang on to. So, it makes sense to start the song creation process by creating one single pattern containing the melody, in our case, just a motive since you only have 16 steps maximum to work with. Then, it is customary to create similar patterns that are variations of the main pattern, in other words, develop the initial motive. There is a fine line between creating a song that's repetitive enough so that the listener can make sense of it and one that's boring because too repetitive. So, you may need to have several motives (melodic phrases) to be able to build a full song. At some point, you may venture into creating melodic phrases that span several patterns and creating songs with unrelated melodic phrases connected by bridges.

For starters, try to limit yourself to diatonic tones, that is, tones that are part of a given scale. For example, you could limit yourself to the C major scale, which are the seven white keys on the keyboard starting at, say, middle C (you probably already know that there are natural half-steps between E-F and B-C and therefore no black keys between those notes). Considering solely the diatonic tones makes song writing less intimidating and will most likely make your tracks more pleasing to the ears of others.

In the next posts, we are gonna look into music theory in order to have a better understanding of tones and how they relate to each other.

In this video, we create a short song using 5 patterns. The first pattern contains the main motive (SYNTH1), repeated in patterns 2 and 3. Patterns 4 and 5 are slight variations of pattern 1 to break the monotony of the melody.


  1. Great stuff. Keep up the good work. I take a look at your blog regularly.

  2. Thanks a lot. Gonna have to update it regularly then.

  3. Yes, very helpful! Thx Ugo!

  4. thanks. helps a lot to see step by step.