Notating a melody

Guitar Tricks Forum > Songwriting > Notating a melody

meharbrar12

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Joined: 07/31/19

Posts: 14

Hi!

So I'm complete beginner when it comes to song writing, I'm currently trying to write one and I was wondering if anyone had any tips when it comes to notating a melody down on paper. Right now I have the metrenome going, I hummed something I liked, and I figured out the pitches and key I will be working in etc. However, trying to get the melody written down on paper I'm finding challenging. I'm notaing on a staff but I can't figure out what the notes are doing rhythmically if that makes sense. Just wondering if anybody has tips when it comes to notating on paper and better understanding what the notes are doing rhythimcally. Or is this something I shouldn't worry about and just carry on writing.

Thanks

#1

Hi!

So I'm complete beginner when it comes to song writing, I'm currently trying to write one and I was wondering if anyone had any tips when it comes to notating a melody down on paper. Right now I have the metrenome going, I hummed something I liked, and I figured out the pitches and key I will be working in etc. However, trying to get the melody written down on paper I'm finding challenging. I'm notaing on a staff but I can't figure out what the notes are doing rhythmically if that makes sense. Just wondering if anybody has tips when it comes to notating on paper and better understanding what the notes are doing rhythimcally. Or is this something I shouldn't worry about and just carry on writing.

Thanks

Carl King

GuitarTricks Video Director

Joined: 10/08/07

Posts: 465

Originally Posted by: meharbrar12

Hi!

So I'm complete beginner when it comes to song writing, I'm currently trying to write one and I was wondering if anyone had any tips when it comes to notating a melody down on paper. Right now I have the metrenome going, I hummed something I liked, and I figured out the pitches and key I will be working in etc. However, trying to get the melody written down on paper I'm finding challenging. I'm notaing on a staff but I can't figure out what the notes are doing rhythmically if that makes sense. Just wondering if anybody has tips when it comes to notating on paper and better understanding what the notes are doing rhythimcally. Or is this something I shouldn't worry about and just carry on writing.

Thanks

This is a welcome question here! Most guitarists avoid notation, when it is such a powerful tool. That's awesome you are going down that path.

It sounds to me like your question is notation of rhythm. Is that right?

Lisa breaks down some very basic rhythmic notation in Guitar Fundamentals 2:

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=24857

Are there more specific questions you have? We'd be happy to answer them.

You might also consider a private lesson with our GT instructor Dave Celentano. http://www.guitartricks.com/pro

He is way into reading and notation (he's published several books and used to transcribe for guitar magazines) and I have taken some sight-reading lessons from him myself. He's one of those guys who writes out everything he plays.

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

#2

Originally Posted by: meharbrar12

Hi!

So I'm complete beginner when it comes to song writing, I'm currently trying to write one and I was wondering if anyone had any tips when it comes to notating a melody down on paper. Right now I have the metrenome going, I hummed something I liked, and I figured out the pitches and key I will be working in etc. However, trying to get the melody written down on paper I'm finding challenging. I'm notaing on a staff but I can't figure out what the notes are doing rhythmically if that makes sense. Just wondering if anybody has tips when it comes to notating on paper and better understanding what the notes are doing rhythimcally. Or is this something I shouldn't worry about and just carry on writing.

Thanks

This is a welcome question here! Most guitarists avoid notation, when it is such a powerful tool. That's awesome you are going down that path.

It sounds to me like your question is notation of rhythm. Is that right?

Lisa breaks down some very basic rhythmic notation in Guitar Fundamentals 2:

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=24857

Are there more specific questions you have? We'd be happy to answer them.

You might also consider a private lesson with our GT instructor Dave Celentano. http://www.guitartricks.com/pro

He is way into reading and notation (he's published several books and used to transcribe for guitar magazines) and I have taken some sight-reading lessons from him myself. He's one of those guys who writes out everything he plays.

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

Carl King

GuitarTricks Video Director

Joined: 10/08/07

Posts: 465

PS I often recommend a basic book like the Mel Bay Method, which will give you a solid understanding of rhythmic notation -- since it's a ton of notation reading (but also very gradual and easy).

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

#3

PS I often recommend a basic book like the Mel Bay Method, which will give you a solid understanding of rhythmic notation -- since it's a ton of notation reading (but also very gradual and easy).

-Carl.

Carl King
GuitarTricks Video Director / Producer

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7356

Originally Posted by: meharbrar12

I'm notaing on a staff but I can't figure out what the notes are doing rhythmically if that makes sense. Just wondering if anybody has tips when it comes to notating on paper and better understanding what the notes are doing rhythimcally. Or is this something I shouldn't worry about and just carry on writing.

First & foremost, learn how to read music! Lisa has tutorials on this in her GF2 course. I also have lessons on it in my course.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=10272&s_id=271

After you learn the basics, then spend a lot of time reading & writing out basic, well-known melodies. The more you practice this skill the better you get at it. I have 2 tutorials of simple, classic melodies that I use for teaching & practicing reading music.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1014

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1024

Having said all that, here's a practical step-by-step guide for how to do it.

1. Write out the notes in order on the staff. Use little ovals on the correct ptiches.

2. Don't worry about rhythm at first.

3. Record the melody so you can just listen to it while following along on the sheet music staff with your finger.

4. Tap your finger in time on the downbeats along with the notes you've written on the sheet music! 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

5. That will help show you when to draw bar lines, when a measure of 4/4 or 3/4 ends.

6. Go through it again & look for melody notes that land ON the downbeats (the counts of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) or OFF (or in between) the downbeats. Notes that happen in between are upbeats. It can help to write the beat number above the note (1, 2, 3, 4) or the upbeat (the "and" in between the numbers). That much will show you the whole notes, half notes, quarter notes & eighth notes. You can use the oval you started with & add stems or color in the dots as necesary.

7. If you need 1/16th note subdivisions, then go through the melody again looking for subdivisions between the 1/8th notes!

I also second Carl's advice of seeking an instructor! Dave is a great choice for a GT pro one-on-one lesson.

Hope this helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#4

Originally Posted by: meharbrar12

I'm notaing on a staff but I can't figure out what the notes are doing rhythmically if that makes sense. Just wondering if anybody has tips when it comes to notating on paper and better understanding what the notes are doing rhythimcally. Or is this something I shouldn't worry about and just carry on writing.

First & foremost, learn how to read music! Lisa has tutorials on this in her GF2 course. I also have lessons on it in my course.

https://www.guitartricks.com/lesson.php?input=10272&s_id=271

After you learn the basics, then spend a lot of time reading & writing out basic, well-known melodies. The more you practice this skill the better you get at it. I have 2 tutorials of simple, classic melodies that I use for teaching & practicing reading music.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1014

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=1024

Having said all that, here's a practical step-by-step guide for how to do it.

1. Write out the notes in order on the staff. Use little ovals on the correct ptiches.

2. Don't worry about rhythm at first.

3. Record the melody so you can just listen to it while following along on the sheet music staff with your finger.

4. Tap your finger in time on the downbeats along with the notes you've written on the sheet music! 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.

5. That will help show you when to draw bar lines, when a measure of 4/4 or 3/4 ends.

6. Go through it again & look for melody notes that land ON the downbeats (the counts of 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) or OFF (or in between) the downbeats. Notes that happen in between are upbeats. It can help to write the beat number above the note (1, 2, 3, 4) or the upbeat (the "and" in between the numbers). That much will show you the whole notes, half notes, quarter notes & eighth notes. You can use the oval you started with & add stems or color in the dots as necesary.

7. If you need 1/16th note subdivisions, then go through the melody again looking for subdivisions between the 1/8th notes!

I also second Carl's advice of seeking an instructor! Dave is a great choice for a GT pro one-on-one lesson.

Hope this helps!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory