Picking melody out of chords

Guitar Tricks Forum > Songwriting > Picking melody out of chords

SusanMW

Full Access

Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

I woke up this morning and I just felt tired of playing covers. I really wanted to start writing my own so I came up with a whole song this morning. I have all the chords written (typed) out above the lyrics, but now I'll need to figure out how to pick the melody out.

From what I've gathered from various places online I just look at the triad of what makes up each chord and pick it out from there. How many do I pick out per chord? My song is in 4/4 time (at least I think so...) It sounds like I just pick out what sounds good to the ear, right? I don't think I need to make it too complicated and delve super deep into theory for this...but maybe I do?

Are there any videos on Guitar Tricks about this? I searched and couldnt find anything.

Thanks in advance. I hope to sing and record the song soon....definitely not today as I recover from vaccine #2.

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#1

I woke up this morning and I just felt tired of playing covers. I really wanted to start writing my own so I came up with a whole song this morning. I have all the chords written (typed) out above the lyrics, but now I'll need to figure out how to pick the melody out.

From what I've gathered from various places online I just look at the triad of what makes up each chord and pick it out from there. How many do I pick out per chord? My song is in 4/4 time (at least I think so...) It sounds like I just pick out what sounds good to the ear, right? I don't think I need to make it too complicated and delve super deep into theory for this...but maybe I do?

Are there any videos on Guitar Tricks about this? I searched and couldnt find anything.

Thanks in advance. I hope to sing and record the song soon....definitely not today as I recover from vaccine #2.

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

SusanMW

Full Access

Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

I also have a piano now...so I think that will help me with the melody line...

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#2

I also have a piano now...so I think that will help me with the melody line...

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

ChristopherSchlegel

Guitar Tricks Instructor

Joined: 08/09/05

Posts: 7356

Originally Posted by: SusanMW

I have all the chords written (typed) out above the lyrics, but now I'll need to figure out how to pick the melody out.

This is essentially classical guitar technique. It's often called chord melody when applied to popular music styles. Because you play the chords & the melody together!

Originally Posted by: SusanMW
From what I've gathered from various places online I just look at the triad of what makes up each chord and pick it out from there.

In general, yes, that's a great place to start because most tunes use the chord tones of the chords in the progression. But there are also quite often passing or neighbor tones that connect the chord tones. It really just depends on the melody you desire. And since you have lyrics that sets a parameter on how many notes you'll need to match the syllables.

I encourage you to start with these 2 tutorials. I show the basics of harmonizing a melody. So it's kind of reverse engineering the process. I'm starting with a melody & then figuring out the possible bass notes & chord tones. But the process will show you how you can start to think about how a melody & it's chords work together in order to be an integrated whole.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=166

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=167

I use simple nursery rhymes for melodies to make it as simple as possible. Essentially the melody suggests or contains the possible harmonies & chord choices. So, when you start with a chord progression you want to think about scale fragments that match the chords as they change.

Hope this helps. Please ask more if necessary! Best of success with your project!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

#3

Originally Posted by: SusanMW

I have all the chords written (typed) out above the lyrics, but now I'll need to figure out how to pick the melody out.

This is essentially classical guitar technique. It's often called chord melody when applied to popular music styles. Because you play the chords & the melody together!

Originally Posted by: SusanMW
From what I've gathered from various places online I just look at the triad of what makes up each chord and pick it out from there.

In general, yes, that's a great place to start because most tunes use the chord tones of the chords in the progression. But there are also quite often passing or neighbor tones that connect the chord tones. It really just depends on the melody you desire. And since you have lyrics that sets a parameter on how many notes you'll need to match the syllables.

I encourage you to start with these 2 tutorials. I show the basics of harmonizing a melody. So it's kind of reverse engineering the process. I'm starting with a melody & then figuring out the possible bass notes & chord tones. But the process will show you how you can start to think about how a melody & it's chords work together in order to be an integrated whole.

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=166

https://www.guitartricks.com/tutorial.php?input=167

I use simple nursery rhymes for melodies to make it as simple as possible. Essentially the melody suggests or contains the possible harmonies & chord choices. So, when you start with a chord progression you want to think about scale fragments that match the chords as they change.

Hope this helps. Please ask more if necessary! Best of success with your project!

Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory

SusanMW

Full Access

Joined: 07/05/20

Posts: 219

Thank you! I will check out those tutorials today. I'm not sure if I'll play it as chord melody...but I just wanted to have a melody in case I wanted to play a bit in the intro or outro...or even in the bridge.

I must say, it is really cool to see your own music sheet all laid out! I have created instrumental ukulele music for the picking hand and have seen my work laid out in Standard Notation and Tabs..but this is a bit different when there are lyrics involved. It's almost like seeing a journal entry...it's a glimpse into my soul and psyche. Very cool! I will definitely keep on writing ...

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

#4

Thank you! I will check out those tutorials today. I'm not sure if I'll play it as chord melody...but I just wanted to have a melody in case I wanted to play a bit in the intro or outro...or even in the bridge.

I must say, it is really cool to see your own music sheet all laid out! I have created instrumental ukulele music for the picking hand and have seen my work laid out in Standard Notation and Tabs..but this is a bit different when there are lyrics involved. It's almost like seeing a journal entry...it's a glimpse into my soul and psyche. Very cool! I will definitely keep on writing ...

“Often, what seems like an impossible climb is just a staircase without the steps drawn in.” Robert Brault, American Operatic Tenor

snojones

Full Access

Joined: 04/17/13

Posts: 517

Way to go, recognizing that window into your soul. It is Very Real. "Sometime your play the drum and sometime the drum plays you"... as a friend of mine once put it.

Captcha is a total pain in the........

#5

Way to go, recognizing that window into your soul. It is Very Real. "Sometime your play the drum and sometime the drum plays you"... as a friend of mine once put it.

Captcha is a total pain in the........