Three ways to come up with a melody from scratch
> Technique 3. The rhythm-first method
Sometimes, laying out the rhythm with one note helps you get started, and from here, all that remains is the final 50% of the task. Experiment with different notes in the already-interesting rhythm you’ve laid down, and it’s hard to go wrong.
Our project is a great example of building a melody with this method. As we’ve laid down the whole thing using just C notes, with the rhythms already programmed, all we need to do (as seen in the video) is move the notes up or down. There’s still plenty of refining to do though, of course…
> Technique 4. Recording then editing
It’s not all about textbook theory. Set your music to loop, work out the scale you’re in (and therefore the notes you need), and get down and dirty with your MIDI controller. Even if you’re not Mozart, there are very likely to be salvageable snatches of inspiration in there. And with the magic of the modern DAW, you can experiment with what you’ve recorded, then tweak to improve your result. Hint: duplicate melody clips before changing them to give yourself a variation to use later on!
> Technique 5. Ramp up the contrast
If melodies are a fight between something a listener’s heard before and something they haven’t, then one great weapon for the ‘unusual’ side of the equation is contrast. Moving in smaller steps rather than big leaps is usually standard, but making large jumps between notes will help your melody stand out against the crowd.
On a similar tip, treat your melodic phrases in the same way: if you’ve just gone up to higher notes, go down to lower ones next time round. If you’ve just played a phrase full of short, staccato notes, go for a lingering section of longer, held notes to slow things right back down. In the search for something interesting, contrast is king.