How to write a good melody?

Here are a few things which you should be thinking about:-

  • What type of mood are you trying to create
  • What is the tempo
  • What instrument/voice are you writing for and what is its range
  • Have a good balance between steps and leaps
  • Have a catchy idea and repeat ( or nearly repeat it)
  • Have a climax to your melody


How to start

We will start by completing a few short question and answer phrases.    This time we will start with 2 bars + 2 bars phrases

Here is an example of this kind of question and answer.


Notice how the melody starts on the dominant note.   Its general shape jumps up at the beginning and works its way back down to the dominant at the end of the first two bars.  This general shape is repeated for the answer, ending of the dominant

Here are a number of examples for you to try




Now try a few    4 bar + 4 bar phrases, here are some examples.












How to start creating your own 8 bar melody?

STEP 1      Pick a key which is easy for you to write in and suitable for the voice/ instrument which you want.   

STEP 2      You should start your melody on the tonic (1st) or the dominant (5th) note of that key e.g.   In the key of G you could start on a G or a D but finishing on a G will make your melody sound more complete.

STEP 3      Create your 4 bar question first.   Try to build up to a climax ending on the tonic note an octave higher or the dominant.  

STEP 4      Finally compose your own answer  and try to use some of the rhythms and shapes used in the question.   Finish on the tonic note.



There are a wide variety of different way in which you can develop and vary your melodies.

  • Repetition

  • Sequences

  • Varying rhythms

  • Augmentation

  • Diminution

  • Ornamentation

  • Modulation




Try to create your own 16 bar melody using some of the devices above

STEP 1     Again decided on your key and instrument/voice.  Start on the tonic note

STEP 2    Compose your question of 8 bars in length including Repetition, ornamentation etc.

STEP 3    Compose your answer of 8 bars in length including other devices mentioned.  Finish on the tonic note.





Other composition tips

            Writing good rhythms              How to write chords                        Writing cadences    

  Creating a Drone                Countermelodies                     Musical Forms               Using Sibelius


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