You can spend years learning music theory and still have so much more to learn! But you don’t have to be an expert to create amazing melodies. Follow our tips below to get started making melodies without music theory.
Write in C Major or A Minor
Writing your melody in the key of C Major or A Minor is a great starting point if you don’t know much music theory. Both scales feature the same notes, utilising only the white keys on a keyboard: A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Many popular songs have been written in these two keys, so you’ll be in great company. If you decide to play your melody on a keyboard, it will be much easier with just the bigger white keys.
Keep it simple
The most memorable songs tend to keep things relatively simple. Long and complex patterns in weird and wonderful scales can be great, but often less is more. Make your next melody short and sweet like the example below and you could have a hit on your hands.
Logic Pro X features a handy scale quantize feature that makes it really simple to just play your melody then sort out any wrong notes afterwards. In much the same way you can set any slightly out of time notes to snap to the grid with time quantize, scale quantize moves wrong notes to the right key for you after you choose the scale of your track. Simple!
In FL Studio their version is called Piano Roll Limiter, as seen in the image below. Ableton also has something similar. Give it a try in your DAW!
Last but not least is Melody Sauce. Whilst there are a lot of theory-based creation tools out there that rely on your knowledge of theory and knowing your sub-dominant from your 9sus4, we’ve taken a deliberately different “by ear” approach. This is not just to help all those who don’t have a deep understanding of music theory, it also offers a different workflow for those who are more comfortable with theory.
We’ve found that top producers look for ideas and inspiration from all kinds of sources, they experiment and trust the ultimate quality filter – their musical ear. Even if you’re new to production, you’ll already have your own sense of what sounds good and what works for you musically. You may or may not know what you want from the start, and you may or may not be able to play ideas on a keyboard, but like the top pros you can use the same “I’ll know it when I hear it” approach that comes from being able to create and access lots of quality ideas quickly. Melody Sauce can definitely help with that. Check out a video of Melody Sauce in action below.
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Want to make a Trap beat but don't know where to start? Pro producer Dusti "Raw" Miraglia (collaborator of Killer Mike of Run The Jewels) offers up his tips and tricks, plus the full track made in this example with free audio stems to download and use, as well as MIDI!