Flip the pitch
Short of ideas for new sections? What if we told you you could make a complete new section with an entirely different mood by inverting your existing melody? Pitchflipping, or pitch reversal, is a technique by which you find a central axis or mirror point – often the midpoint between the root note of the key you’re working in and the note a perfect fifth above it – and use it like a fulcrum to literally flip the notes around, so that they retain their grid positions and durations, but change their pitch. What you end up with is a completely new melody with a different vibe, yet still derived from the same song. If you start out with a melody in a major key, it becomes minor, while minor key melodies become major, and so on. So, if you have a verse melody in a minor key, you could flip it to a major key for the chorus – a common songwriting technique. Whether this is done with a vocal or an instrumental part, it can have a big effect and be a great way of generating alternative bridge or prechorus parts. You could play the vocal melody in as a synth line, then invert it to produce a keyboard hook for a tag or a solo section, for example.
Logic Pro X, shown above, has a nifty ‘reverse pitch’ feature that asks for an axis pitch, then works everything else out for you. In the example shown above, we’ve got a simple melody in the key of A minor. To generate our flipped version, we’ve simply duplicated the region, selected the notes in the piano roll editor and chosen the MIDI Transform » Reverse Pitch option from the edit window’s Functions menu. This brings up a selection dialogue that asks us to input the note pitch around which we want to flip our notes. To get this result, we typed in the note D3 and hit Operate. Hey presto: a whole new melody!
If that doesn’t work out, for even wackier results, why not try your DAW’s pitch randomising function, if it has one? For more information about a similar technique to this one, known as negative harmony, check out our resident music theory expert Dave Clews’ Easy
Guide on the topic in 257.
Pitch reversal is a staple of songwriting, and these days your DAW can do the leg work for you