Melodic idea


Audio: melodic idea (0:03)

Melodic idea
Figure: melodic idea

melodic idea plays a melody on a recorder. The melodic idea figure shows the score consists of a melody with the five notes G-A-B-D-C.

A melodic idea is the thing that starts you off writing melody.

The term, melodic idea, describes the initial musical idea for a melody. Other terms that mean the same thing include motif, figure, cell, riff and sample.

The idea in melodic idea is short and simple. A long and complex melody rarely, if ever, arrives fully formed. Often, it is better to start with something short and simple and then develop it.

Generating an idea for a melody need not be difficult although many writers find it one of the most difficult things to do. Certainly, you do not need to be inspired to write a melody. In many ways, starting with a short and simple melodic idea is the best way forward because it avoids the interminable wait for inspiration. Every idea, no matter how trite and banal, can be developed into something more interesting using the techniques listed in the variant table.

Here are a few guidelines that might help you to get creative if you are absolutely stuck:

  • Choose a key. If you are fed up with C major, try one of the other modes or the pentatonic scale for something different.
  • Set the tempo to 120bpm.
  • Write no more than 8 notes, something that can be sung or hummed comfortably in a single breath.
  • Choose any combination of pitches.
  • Write unmetered rhythm using notes of equal value.
  • Write unaccented rhythm using notes of equal amplitude.
  • Keep the melody within the range of an octave.