rhythm first melodies

Animate your melodies with rhythm


  • You want to create distinct melodies for different song sections but they are sounding similar whatever you try 
  •  You want to create hooks or melodies that catch the listeners ear but are unsure where to start
  • Marrying words and melody is proving difficult 
  • You need to create a different feeling in the music when compared to other sections of your song


Rhythm is a huge part of melody. It’s easy to get caught up in the intervals and chord tones considerations when writing a melody. Striping it all back to the rhythm can help in the following ways: 

  • Easy to compare rhythm content and create contrast between song sections
  • Break out of melody writing habits
  • Make it easier to integrate lyrics and compare with the meter of the section 
  • Create rhythmic hooks on which to build your melody

Do the following: 

  1. If you already have lyrics look at the meter used and rhythm it may imply. If not skip to step two
  2. Clap out a rhythm, experiment and find something you like
  3. If you don’t have lyrics at this point you can figure out which meter is compatible 
  4. Keep structure in mind, such as AABA lines. You might wish to have one pattern for the A section and another for the B section. 
  5. Now is good moment to compare this section with other parts of your song if they already exist. Clap out the melodic rhythm for those sections and compare it with the verse. If you are using a DAW you can program a shaker or other piece of percussion to give you a reference. 
  6. Start to add pitches to your rhythm to complete your melody. Think about melodic form and shape.

Now what?

Now you have built a melody from the rhythm up. It should match the meter of your lyrics and be rhythmically distinct from other sections of your song. 

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