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Making a Melody using a Musical Sketch

It is often daunting when making a new track, lack of inspiration and creativity is common. It is often found that when concentrating too hard and working rigidly, ideas and inspiration do not flow as easily as when working freely and in a casual way. A good approach is to make a number of musical sketches. These are done in a quick and casual way, the idea being to get ideas down first rather than concentrate on making a final track from the very start.

Musical sketches can take many forms, for example you might decide to spend some time just working on melodies or bass lines. When you have a series of sketches you can export them to audio files and play them back to see which you want to develop further.

At the sketch stage, don’t worry about mixing – tweaking eq parameters, compression settings and such like will divert too much time away from being creative.

Notes / Suggestions:

  • Delay can transform a melody – see this article for more info
  • Using scale clips will allow you to work faster – more info and download here
  • Keep all of your ideas – save the project file with the scale in the title for easy reference. Something you made previously might be perfect for your new track
  • Keep it simple – the best melodies are often the simplest
  • Percussion and bass are the foundations of a track – when you are making a melody have these playing. You will find that the percussion and bass will often dictate where melody notes are to be placed making for a melody that sounds right
  • Entering notes directly into the piano roll can often sound too rigid and not natural due to the perfect alignment of the notes to the grid. Try moving the notes by small amounts and also adding variations to the volume. Some DAWs have a humanise function (such as Presonus Studio One)

Jeremy Latham

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