this is intended for people with somewhat of an open mind about music and a decent foundation of theory
the big skinny - Ok so for a long time i had the most difficult time writing a melody. i'd have a killer chord progression (well, a stable one at least) but i couldn't write a lead line or melody to save my life. after a bit of studying i noticed something really important that i don't know that i've ever seen anyone simply point out and say : very consonant melodies almost always start on any of the tones except for the 2 and 7 (there are some exceptions to this, we'll get to that later)
powerchords, especially distorted, by their nature are used often to give the root tone a bigger fuller sound. this is why you see metal bands playing in a minor key and the chord based off the 2nd tone of the key has a natural fifth (instead of a flattened fifth as it should in normal diatonic chord construction) because of this whenever i hear a powerchord riff i often treat it the same as i would a single noted riff (ie instead of an E5 i simply treat it as an E note by itself) thinking of it like this can free up a little extra room for lead lines. its also good to note that whenever i see something like this i take note that theres a natural 6th in there over that ii chord that i can use if i want, you might be surprised what that 1 extra note can do when properly used
timbre, some people get it, some people don't, but theres a basic rule in music theory somewhere that says don't spread your melody out over an ocatve away from your root. NOW, this isn't a mandatory thing (no theory EVER is) but i've noticed that it helps a lot if you're playing something and it sounds good but not "right" i personally have noticed that over the years i innately want to either start or resolve on that ocatve note mentioned before (or the 3rd or 5th depending of course)
now, remember what i said before about starting and ending your melodies on 2nds and 7ths? the 2 big exceptions i found to this rule are 7th chords and 9th chords. im preferable of starting my melodies a 3rd above the 7th (which is the 2nd/9th) or the 7th thats above the ninth chord (in an E minor ninth 022002 i might start on the D at the 11th fret on the high e for example)
PHRASING and why you don't care but should -
i see all types of questions about phrasing and while im not a complete master at phrasing i have noticed a couple things that can help
1. premature eargasm - just because you can play fast doesn't mean you should
2. nothing comes out but a bunch of gibberish - it's all about actually saying something (other than i can play fast) a great article on UG said "think about it like you're talking, you stop, take breaths, pause, articulate words differently, rush sentences out sometimes to get an idea out etc." awesome article, i can't remember the name but it's worth a search.
3. way to go pavarotti - even if you're not a great vocalist you might still be hearing an awesome melody in your head. try to sing it out and even play it out.
4. i am the alpha and omega - melody lines are a somewhat of a double edged sword in the songwriting process. if a song is already written and simply needs some lead lines i always suggest writing those after the vocal melody so as to not interfere. remember in songs with people singing the spotlight is generally on the vocalist, not our finger blistering skills. even if the song doesn't have vocals i'll often wait till i at least pick out a vocal melody that works and lay that down so i have something to work with music wise while i fill in the word blanks. when vocals are already laid down i often find it easiest to start off trying to imitate some of the vocal melodies then taking those off to their own different places.
5. almost last but not least - accentuate the underlying rhythmic foundation. this is easier to experiment with a little and actually do. i often hear a song with a "unique" (ie not straight 4/4) rhythmic pattern then the lead line kicks in with something that detracts from the original funky rhyhtm. theres a lot of things you can do over rhythmic patterns to get really interesting sounds and accentuations, part of this is variation though. if someones playing a straight 16th note chug or riff the one thing i don't want to do is play straight 16th notes along with him if i'm trying to create an individual melody. when i'm trying to give the solo it's own space and melody i want to try to accentuate whats already going on while being independent rhythmically of the other instruments (good obvious examples of this are latin music, boogie, swing and blues)
6. mermaid? check, murder? check - as a guitarist we have a wide variety of tools at our disposal, don't forget a little trill, vibrato, bend, tap or anything can spice up a solo. but our most important tool i think is our ability to improvise, our "ingenuity" and imagination. know how to make your guitar sound like a violin? cello? pulsing saw wave (like you hear in techno songs) well if you don't then go on and learn! one of the greatest inspirations to me as a musician is trying to think of ways to make my guitar sound like something else.
7. fix yer ears, i dunno what the hells wrong with'em - this is the grandaddy secret, the one that i see alot of guitarists don't really get (hey we're the guitarist WE get to say whats what right?) well stfu and listen..... seriously thats it, just stfu and listen. i've found that the more i really LISTEN to a piece of music the easier it is to hear what needs to go where and what (to me at least) would serve the song best. alot of people i've played with just go in and see a couple chords and wail over those as fast and hard as they can (i used to be a terrible perpetrator of this crime) in a pentatonic or blues scale but never actually take the time to listen to the music changes and the chord progressions. taking an extra 5-7 minutes to actively listen to where the chords are, where they're going and what changes are occuring can often mean the difference between "jesus, i've been playing with this for an hour and can't get anything that sounds good" and "ah, only took 10 minutes to figure this out, now i can go become intoxicated" i can't stress enough how important listening is as a skill that sometimes we as musicians forget. if you find yourself at a loss for a melody or lead line, just try listening for a little while.
if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
- w. dyer
damned the ghetto ninjas or "birth is pain, life i
Current mood: murderous rage
well i came home sunday afternoon to find my apt had been broken into. my computer was stolen (along with all my audio equipment/headphones/recording stuff) and my PS2 was stolen. luckily all my guitars were with me. i think what ticks me off the most is the fact that i was about halfway done with drums and synth for 4 songs i was working on. now i gotta get a new computer and start all over from the beginning..... oh yeah, i'm totally moving outta the ghetto too. this isn't the first time this sh!t has happened. i must say i'm not looking forward to having to get all that software all over again
so check out my old stuff and lemme know whatcha think. i'm working on new stuff right now, i'm kinda in the process of finding decent drum sounds and arranging everything. i hope to have some new stuff up within the next 6 months (at least 5-7 songs, hand written drums don't exactly write themselves, generally this part can take a week or 2 at 2-4 hours a day to just get the basics down for just 1 song) anyways, i'll post a new blog eventually to let any fans know how far i've gone and when to expect new music. btw, my new songs WILL have lyrics with me singing/screaming so keep yer pants on guys and take your skirts off girls, it'll be here before ya know it. hit me up whenever, peace out y'all