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Thread: Why Are My Melodies So Boring?

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    Junior Member kamalayka's Avatar
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    Default Why Are My Melodies So Boring?

    Whenever I hear a melody in my head, it sounds so predictable and boring.

    Here's a brief example:

    http://www.noteflight.com/scores/vie...acabf7903b7f01

    I try to write modern stuff, but it's too forced and unnatural-sounding.

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    Senior Member Crudblud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamalayka View Post
    I try to write modern stuff, but it's too forced and unnatural-sounding.
    I think trying to write in any particular style that came before you is going to sound forced and unnatural because it isn't yours. Why not write what comes naturally?

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    Senior Member EddieRUKiddingVarese's Avatar
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    throw a few random notes in here and there- or repeat some phases in different orders- might help
    "Everyone is born with genius, but most people only keep it a few minutes"

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    Senior Member ricardo_jvc6's Avatar
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    Ah, this was a problem for me too. The only one way to get along with it is well... throwing some random notes or study some music theory more likely Intervals and Rhythyms, to make your music to have more sense.

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    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricardo_jvc6 View Post
    Ah, this was a problem for me too. The only one way to get along with it is well... throwing some random notes or study some music theory more likely Intervals and Rhythyms, to make your music to have more sense.
    Or both! .

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    Senior Member Ramako's Avatar
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    Sometimes what I write can find boring because it is a product of what I want to write.

    Maybe mix some of what you don't want in there too.

    People don't want what they want.

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    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramako View Post
    People don't want what they want.
    lol, that's a rather crazy world!. I like that.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    For starters, stop writing tunes and instead try to think about briefer ideas.

    Next, start listening to less "tuneful" music, i.e. if you are listening more to Tchaikovsky than, say, Beethoven or Brahms, that is only reinforcing your notion of "melody" instead of the other elemental materials of motif, harmony, those latter really the main stuff of which most classical music is made: if you do not push yourself away from "tunes" toward the other elements, without all of those elements mixed both in your thinking and writing, you end up writing "just tunes."

    If your melodic material is closed, i.e. begins and ends on Tonic, maybe has a half-way point temporarily sitting on Dominant or Sub-dominant, there is not going to be much you can do with that in the way of expansion unless you re-write it or break it into smaller elements, or "cells."

    Before you have a completed tune, start extracting or experimenting with harmonic content from it / with it. The various pitch-contexts can influence your ear. Some of your problem is basically imitating what you think of as melody from cumulative melodies in memory... difficult to get away from, but that too, is part of the job.

    The advice to try a "random note" instead of the one you would normally go to (horizontal melodic procedure) is appropriate, as is the general admonition to "mix it up." I admonish you that both are good advice, but they are not a solution -- they are offered up because the effect of so doing will challenge your ear, your concepts of what a melodic line is, and then you can, more selectively, find "other notes" which will make your line that much less predictable.

    All this holds true whether you goal is to compose a "simple" tune for a song in the pop genre (simple and effective a no-slouch bit of craft often sneezed at by those who think classical is the only worthwhile music -- let them try it, I say :-) or if you are wanting to write something more in the vein of classical, expanded and somehow developed music of both 'melody' and harmony.

    So... mix it up a little :-)

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    Senior Member Op.123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamalayka View Post
    Whenever I hear a melody in my head, it sounds so predictable and boring.

    Here's a brief example:

    http://www.noteflight.com/scores/vie...acabf7903b7f01

    I try to write modern stuff, but it's too forced and unnatural-sounding.
    I love melodies...........................
    “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

    - Mozart

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    you dont need to write great melodies.its not the theme but what you do with.

    wagner once used 350 consecutive measures of nothing but Eflat major chords.
    beethoven was a horible melodist but his form was genius.
    bach's genius was his counterpoint and variation.
    mendelson had great melodies but his counterpoint and variation was hyper simplistic and so with mozart.
    Tovchu tovchu mak 5-28-2010

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    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bagpipers View Post
    beethoven was a horible melodist but his form was genius.
    bach's genius was his counterpoint and variation.
    Uh, what?. They wrote some of the most popular melodies out there:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1iZXyWLnXg, Für Elise.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS-HWIFyLsE, Air on the G string.

    ...

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    yes,but not like schubert.mendelson or mozart.there is nothing wrong with not being a great melodist.different composers have different strenths
    Tovchu tovchu mak 5-28-2010

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aleazk View Post
    Uh, what?. They wrote some of the most popular melodies out there:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1iZXyWLnXg, Für Elise.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZS-HWIFyLsE, Air on the G string.

    ...
    I would hardly call any of the upper voice parts in Für Elise melody, but more motivic, and coming from the harmony -- Beethoven was a harmonist first and foremost.

    Air on the G string is an air, "a tune" and it was not Bach's, but lifted, like so much of his other material, and kept intact, given a nice setting.

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    Senior Member Forte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bagpipers View Post
    yes,but not like schubert.mendelson or mozart.there is nothing wrong with not being a great melodist.different composers have different strenths
    This is wrong. Beethoven could write wonderful, lyrical, long, flowing melodic lines as well as anybody - he just didn't always find the need to do so, or want to. See: the 1st movement of the 4th Piano Concerto, the 2nd movement of the 5th Piano Concerto, the 6th Symphony, the Violin Concerto, the choral finale of the 9th Symphony, the 2nd movement of Op. 13, the 1st movement of Op. 78, the 3rd movement of Op. 106, the 3rd movement of Op. 109, the first and third movements of Op. 110, various movements of the Missa Solemnis, various examples from the late string quartets (Op. 127, 130, 131, 132, 133, 135), and more.

    Bach's melodies are often a joy, and it's not just counterpoint and harmony that makes them great (although it's why I'd rather not listen to Pachelbel) - just refer to his choral works. The cantatas, passions, and Mass in B minor have great melodies, and really in general there were no "songwriters" at the time even though there were operas.

    PetrB covered it as far as melodic invention - there's really nothing better than letting your ear know it's not boss, and in the end if you like it, it's still yours.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Apologies for not having first listened to your audio sample.

    I might guess that violin is your primary instrument? If that is the case, then listen to melodic material given to any of the instruments other than strings, and you may notice there is a different character to them. That character is not merely timbrel. but has to do with the characteristic behaviors of the instrument itself, and therefore, something written specifically to suit that physical behavior and character.

    Me, piano bound, took forever to write something 'just for piano,' though I have orchestral piano parts in some works from before. Lately, I sat down to write "simple piano pieces." The reason I left it for so long? HABIT -- both physical and aural, of "What kind of things come out of a piano." You want to write, generally, idiomatically for any instrument, but do not want to cave in to motor habits, i.e. letting motor habit dictate what notes you come up with.

    I may be mistaken as to your instrument, but do advise listening to different instruments in melodic roles, and take some note of the musical differences the composer has given them due to their native characteristics. This will at least broaden your inner ear's imagination.

    Next, read up on extending a phrase, or truncating a phrase, and look for examples. A brilliant one, complete with analysis, is in this very worthwhile documentary on the teacher Nadia Boulanger. She goes at an analysis of the theme of Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze. There is a major lesson to be learned right there. (That segment begins at 23'34'')
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kW7GiX4-hPc

    [ADD: I must admit to not being "A melodist" though I have come up with some successful lines -- including songs -- those do seem to arise out of harmonic activity, and even then that harmonic activity thought about and arrived at via a more horizontal way of working (vs. vertical chord progression.) END ADD]
    Last edited by PetrB; Jul-31-2013 at 07:42.

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