How to Write a Melodic Progression

how to write a melody

If you’re thinking about learning how to write a melody, you have come to the right place! Here you will learn step by step how to write a melody in this basic music theory lesson on music composition for beginners. It is designed to get you off to a good start and to clear up any writing blocks you may have. (just remember that anything can be altered as you want it’s your melody after all so you can make it whatever you want!) After learning how to write a melody, you will also be well equipped to begin playing along with other songs you may be listening to.

Writing A Tune

Diagram, engineering drawing

There are many ways to approach writing a tune. There are scales and arpeggios, chords and melody. Each of these has their own style, but they all basically fall under the same broad umbrella. The big question is how do you know which approach is best for you?

For instance, do you want to go with the triad notes (the root note of each chord) or the diminished triad notes (the root note of each chord diminished by one frets). Do you want the diminished notes to be in the minor chord progression or the major chord progression? Do you want the melody to have a step-back (an ascending or descending arpeggio) or be completely free (a descending flat line)? Once you’ve decided on the scale or chord sequence you want to use, you need to decide on the melody’s rhythmic pattern. This is where we break down the “how to write a melody” process a bit.

Melodic Contour

A man sitting in front of a window

Let’s say you’ve found a great melody that you’d like to use in a song. Now it’s time to figure out what sort of melodic contour your song will have. The most common melody type is the major or Aeolian major form. Major or Aeolian major forms generally progress over four notes in the stasis. That means the first note of each segment is a major or Aeolian (if you’re playing in the major key), followed by two major or minor notes. Each segment of the stasis contains two notes: the first note being a B-minor (for the second step in the minor chord progression), and the second note being an A-minor.

Now, you know yourmelodic line and the main chord you’re going to play, so now it’s time to start writing the actual melody. If you’re using a stasis, then the melody will progress as chords are played. If you’re working in the key of A, then you’ll need to indicate which chord or chords you’re playing in each section. You can also indicate the harmony of the piece by using the letter(s) in the key signature.

C Major Or Aeolian Chord Progressions

For instance, if your piece is in the key of C, then you would play the C major or Aeolian chord progressions. Or for the C major/Aeolian chord progression, you could play C Ionian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, G Lydian, A Mixolydian, B Locrian, etc. Notice that we’re not naming each of these chords individually, just each chord progression. Once you’ve identified the chord progressions, you can go back and identify the scale which is going to be the basis for the harmony. In most cases, this will be the scales pentatonic or modes.


Finally, you finish by adding the lyrics. In most cases, the lyrics will be placed towards the end of the musical discourse. However, note that this isn’t necessarily where your lyrics end. In fact, you should think about where your melodic line stops, before deciding where the chorus begins. This is because in some cases, the lyrics will precede or accompany the chords already in the step progression.

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