You often need to get some distance to what you have created in order to realize what improvements can be made. A song is seldom perfect from the start. As a songwriter, and indeed as a music producer, you benefit greatly from having a set of fixes for various minor problems. Hm… the melody… isn’t it a bit monotone?
Guest Post from Songwriting: Get Your Black Belt In Music & Lyrics
Tedious melody? Try this!
You need to have some degree of dynamic in you song (!). In music, the term dynamic is most often related to the volume of sound, but it can refer to just about any musical feature capable of changing. The register of the lead melody (the range, in pitch, of the notes used) is one of the more important aspects of your song. How does the register of the lead melody change from form part to form part? Is there any dynamic?
A common mistake is to use the same (narrow) register in both a verse and the following refrain. If you get yourself in the situation of having written such a song, you’ll be glad you’ve read this blog post! Here’s the fix:
Introduce a direct modulation!
Key modulation is another word for key change. A modulation can be done in a great many ways, but the simplest of them all, the direct modulation, works surprisingly often. The directness of this modulation lies in that nothing is preparing it. It is done directly, without previous warning.
In the case we’re discussing, your nice but slightly boring melody, we’ll introduce a key modulation between the verse and the chorus. A modulation that shifts the register of the chorus towards higher pitches. You’ll be transposing the melody and the chords so the form part plays in another key. The trick is to choose the new key with care, you don’t want your song to sound weird and quirky. Use the circle of fifths! If you move one step clockwise the register of your melody will move a perfect fifth upwards. Your new key will only have one tone changed compared to the old key. If you move counterclockwise your melody will move a perfect fourth upwards. Your new key will only have one tone changed compared to the old key!
The new chorus might contain one or a few notes a bit too high. If that’s the case you’ll simply transpose the whole song down a bit.
Get more tips on how to alter and improve songs you’ve made in the book: Songwriting: Get Your Black Belt In Music & Lyrics.