Songwriting From Scratch: How to write an EDM melody | Andrew Booth | Skillshare

Songwriting From Scratch: How to write an EDM melody

Andrew Booth

Songwriting From Scratch: How to write an EDM melody

Andrew Booth

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6 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Terminology

    • 3. Analysis of Avicii 'Wake me up'

    • 4. Analysis of LMFAO 'Party rock anthem'

    • 5. Analysis of Major Lazer and DJ Snake 'Lean on'

    • 6. Example MIDI track

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About This Class

This is not a video about production!  Specifically, this is aimed at you if you are comfortable at creating beats and producing but not sure how the music side of things works? This course uses examples from the EDM genre, although the techniques discussed here can be used to produce any music in a pop style. The course will make use of Logic Pro X on an apple mac, but there is no reason that you can’t reproduce anything I do and show you here on another comparable DAW, on any computer.

Meet Your Teacher

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Andrew Booth


I have been involved in music for nearly twenty five years. I have pursued interests in live performance, concert organisation, recording, mixing, production, label management, and directing. My ability to conceptualise clearly and communicate concisely both musically and socially, allow me to work alone, or in concert with others very effectively. I have worked on recording and live music projects with Kenwyn House (Reef) Mitch Glover (Kosheen) and Gary Shaw (Sherman Robertson + Jimmy Witherspoon) and Jim Shaw and Ben Baxter (Cranes)

I have been playing live and recording for the past twenty three years. I have playing experience with lots of different styles of music - rock, pop, folk, country, musical theatre, r+b, prog, metal, disco, punk, world, acoustic, blues, reggae, jaz... See full profile

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1. Introduction: welcome. This course will show you how to create a catchy E g M melody. This is no video about production. Specifically, this is aimed at you. If you're comfortable at creating beats and producing, they're not sure how the music sort of things worked. This course uses examples from the E D M genre, although techniques discussed here could be used to produce any music in a pop style. The course will make use of logic Pro X on an Apple Mac, but there is no reason that you can't reproduce anything I do and show you here on another comparable deal or on any computer if you don't have any of these items but still came to have a go than a piano or other instrument, like guitar is a good place to start and perhaps a recording device like a phone, so that you can record and develop ideas. This way, anyone can creates a music and eventually submit something that I can listen to comment on . I've taken the three most viewed E G M tracks and used these as reference examples for the purpose of discussing and analyzing the writing of good hook line melodies It's not that they are necessarily the greatest songs ever, only that they have been listened to many, many times, and so are a good indication of a popular melody. First Shaun will look at is a V cheese. Wake Me Up full of boy L M F A O party rock anthem and finally, major Lazer. Indeed. Joe Snake. Lean on. I'll be using musical terminology during this lesson. Words like melody, harmony chords, midi scale, minor major key tonality. So we're gonna go over these in the next section. 2. Terminology: Here are some of the terms we will be used enduring this course melody, a series of notes, one after another, harmony notes that are played together at the same time. Cooled cords or a group of notes, often three or sometimes four, that are related to each other and played at once. Chord tones are the notes that the cold is made up from triads. This is the name given to a chord that has three notes in it. Midi is short fall musical instrument digital interface. This is the language a lot of musical equipment uses to talk to a computer, and vice versa. We will be used in the midi window of logic to demonstrate some aspects of harmony and how it interacts with the melody. Let's go. A scale is a series of notes, sometimes five or seven, and even a boat scales were used frequently. The notes within the scale have a relationship with each other that affects how they sound to us. A scale can ever somewhat happy or sad sound. Depending on what notes in the scale and how far apart are close together, these notes are I will be covering more on this subject in later videos. Minor. This is the name we give to a scale of record with the dark or sad sound major. This is the name we give to a scale or record with a happy or light sound. Okay, this is what we call groups of notes and chords that have a world defined relationship to each other, starting with the scale and then using the notes in a scale to build cords. Because that you create by going through this method are always a mixture of happy and sad . This gives a composer a palette from which to create direction, tension and resolution. Don't worry. I'll be covering more on this subject in later videos. The hook line The Hook line is that memorable piece of melody from a tune, perhaps the most stand out part, the melody from the whole song. These are often used in the chorus. It's the killer if it's the transcendent melody that earworms into your head and you cannot forget 3. Analysis of Avicii 'Wake me up': welcome. We are going to analyze the first of our three tunes to see what makes a great catch. E E D M. Melody The first example we're going to look at is V cheese. Write me up. There were several aspects we will analyze to get an overall picture of why this song and bodies a great example of a catchy melody. These are one. The melody and chords used notes from the same scale to the melody. Simple three. The rhythm is exciting, and four, there is repetition. We will focus on the course, which is when the hook line is normally found. Here we have the middle grade and which will reproduce the cords. Amenity for the course of a V cheese. Wake me up the cords along the bottom here and the melody sits along the top. This will help us distinguish the two parts for analysis. I've also only used the sound of a standard piano well, that this doesn't reproduce the exact sounds and effects used in the original piece. It will service well and allowing us to focus a melodic and harmonic analysis. Most of the notes used in a Merete in the 1st 2nd bars. A notes that found in the courts these are referred to was cool times. All the notes used to write the melody and the cords are from the same scale. This scale is. Be more. Here is Cisco includes all the notes that use in the course for the cheese. Wake me up. Although we won't go deeply into the theory of music here, it is important that we are clear that the seven notes in the scale provide us with the building blocks. From this, we both called on melodies. Think of it this way. If we use the same family of notes for all elements of a track, which is what we refer to as being in the same key, the notes have a strong established relationship to each other. If he used a given scale as an exclusive patent to create your melodies and chords, you will rarely encountered problems with notes that don't work together or sound really nasty. Some notes will sound better than others in the melody. Depending on the court, you using as a side note, I will be making more videos aimed at making music theory more accessible in the future. There are only five notes used in total for this entire melody. These are I a day A in this shop, so keeping it really simple, they will notes from the associates Go of being mourner. There were no vocals in the chorus. Is Justin instrumental? The No shoes for the melody in the first bar i A B D. These are also the notes used in a court of B minor below. All of the notes come from the scale of B minor, the cold of B minor. Here is a triad for a three note court. There is also a four legged version of this cold that includes an a note within it so they're not used. Here is a former called in this example? It's perfectly viable for us to use the A new melody as it's in the beam honor, scale and cold. You'll see that there is only one no difference between the court of B minor G major. No, is that shop. The aesthetic used here is if you can change this. Phoenix is possible between two cores because for the human ear, smaller interval sound nicer. However, you're still allowing the overall home on the Kellerman to track the progress and sound luck. It's going somewhere the towers direction. That's what the majority of core progressions and needy em cool progressions air often four or eight bar loops. Your dear here is always one chief school to start with from that first cold, go to another, possibly more, and then come back to starting board. It was important that the called sound good together shouldn't be a problem if you do the same scout to generate all the court. It's also important that the last called works well with the first cold. Because it's a loop it will repeat, so the last in first called Always Get heard next to each other. The second bar uses only one court, the chord of D major. The melody you sister notes D e. Enough shop again. What the I in the preview smile. The e here is not included in Court D major. It is, however, in the scale of B minor, so it's good to use, and that's a little more color to the melody. Both bars have only used three notes, respectively, which doesn't compromise on the simplicity. You'll also know that the phrasing, which means album melody, space and arranged, isn't two distinct parts. This is referred to this cooling misspellings classic way to construct amenities like a conversation or statement and reply. We can create the initial part of any melody and leave it hanging or unresolved. Question. The second part forms an answer or reply and leaves you with the sense of closure and resolution. Let's meet, cools and have a listen. Separate both of the mail. Oh, the second part forms an answer or reply a classic way to construct amenities like a conversation or statement. In reply, we can create the initial part of any melody. Leave it hanging or unresolved. The question. The second part forms the answer or reply that gives you a sense of closure resolution. This approach underlines the simplicity and allows for the repetition aspect, which is of paramount importance. If you want to write a piece of his pop gold, the structure of the entire song is worth considering. Here the harmonic element is the same all the way through the song that is to say that the cords never checked. The only thing that differentiates between diverse and of course is the military. There are textual of production elements that help the parts to contrast, but in the main, the melodies, the element that truly defines its section. The other really important aspect here is rhythm. Where are replacing each note in the midi grid? If he used a few notes to write a melody, but the notes are all the same, distance apart, then your melody will sound robotic and uninspiring. Without a great rhythm, Melodies could sound like a nursery rhyme or worse, exactly like a scale. Although scours of the basis for you to generate notes and create amenity, they are not humanity. Thinking about whether that's being placed is as important as which notes you use notice. Have a click track lines up identically with the first and second notes of each of these brothers. A combination of on the B and off the beat is always a good way to ensure the amenities rhythmically exciting. Right in a good melody is always a combination of both pitch or the next you're using, and rhythm. Repetition is an extremely important factor in music. It's so important. Almost all music and all cultures includes it. Indeed, it defines music is being different from other art forms. For example, would a poet repeated stands and they've already delivered The A. One is. It's frequently in front because the catch humanity can get into your head and stay there. If your melodious, simple rhythmically interesting, the more it repeats, the greater the potential to get into your head. Here is a recap of the important points that I will need to take away from this analysis. One. The melody and the harmony elements are all built from the same scale to the entire melody is written with only five notes. It's very simple. Three. The simple call in response phrasing is used for the rhythm is exciting, and five there is frequent repetition. 4. Analysis of LMFAO 'Party rock anthem': for our next example at MF Io party rock anthem, we will be again. Focus in on the course, Although choosed in a melody. I notice that I found in the court or cool types I, as was the case with the V cheese. Wait me out. In this example, the melody employees five of the seven notes from the major scale that the melodies derived from the same ISF of each every cheese. Wake me up still simple and effective, you hear there's gotta look Bereuter sound. Then I would be Mulliner example used in a Vinci's Wait me out. You'll also recognize like the previous example, Not the phrasing is in two distinct parts called in response, again underlined in the simplicity and allowing for lots of repetition. One difference here, though, is that the last two notes in the first half of the melody harmonize. This is to say that there are two notes being played simultaneously on top of each other during the second part. Amenity, or the only underlying cords do not change, but I e. They're all the same as they were in the first row. The manatee doesn't little climb up through half of the left shot Linus Go on back down to conclude by reflecting the overall key in the piece, which is a major. This gives the effect of providing tension of the F sharp lines. Go, which leads to resolution by ending the Melody Island. A major harmonisation. The melody again reflects the cold that is played over here. We ever melody beginning in F sharp on the cool. The best shot, as was the case for the beaches, Wake me up. There is a four note version of this F sharp minor cooled, which isn't specifically used here. Come back down to an E. No, that isn't reflected in this three note or try attic version of that shot bonnet. But it is in The extended called On also is still in the key because it's in the scale of a major, so it's absolutely perfectly viable to use it by using the total three different notes over the first section of the melody presents a song with a problem. Because only three notes have been used, the melody sounds a little bit flat in the 1st 2 bars. This has been overcome with added harmonisation in effect instead of a rather monotone or almost f sharp to E. It has the effect of bean brightened with these stacked notes or harmonies. Uses the exact same theory as you used to build these calls in the first place. You only using this scale and notes from it, and you stuck in him until they sound north. Initially, the key of the pace or the mixture of notes used to create the courts of melody seems to be D major. Well, though, on closer inspection this is incorrect. The presence of any major called precludes the key. If D is. There is an e minor chord in this key, not an E. Major. It seems unusual at first is there is no a major called anywhere in the soul. This, however, doesn't preclude the key for being a major. As mentioned above second section of the melody here confirms this hypothesis as it concludes with the harm interest a, although unusual, to harmonize in a over a dick. Because the two chords are so deeply related and often found being played together, it doesn't actually sound nasty. L m f A. Like a beach. He doesn't seek to change the harmony throughout the entire song, so the calls never change. Yeah, only differentiates between sections by changing the melody, as with the Wake Me up example. Previously, there is another example of structures and publicity here on By altering subtly elements like texture, dynamics and production, the need for change in harmony is minimized. Rhythm is always a major factor in writing melody. I find that I often obsess over the notes I'm using for a piece of music. This can often lead me nowhere. I find that by considering rhythm or where the notes go in the great often this gives the melody. I'm writing what it needs to have their ear and quality needs to be digestible and repeatable and exciting to Mr. So let's recap. The important point to Mr Nervous is one. The melody in the harmony the cords exclusively used notes from the scale, the entire melodies written with only five notes. So very simple. Three. Some of the amenities harmonized red color, full simple. Colum Response Phrasing is used for it. The rhythm is exciting. At six, there is frequent repetition 5. Analysis of Major Lazer and DJ Snake 'Lean on': For our final example, we will again be focusing on the chorus, all the notes used in a melody For the first and second bars, I notice that I found in the cold, cold tones another previous examples. In this case, the melody employs the fewest notes of the three songs we've looked at so far, with only four notes from the parent scale of the major used in amenity. What is interesting here is the way they use the notes, the structure of the melody. It's broken down into four sections. What is interesting here is the way they use the notes. The structure of the melody is broken down into four sections, also by Section one and free the Hama Noise Estrosi the same with the example of enemy. As with the harmonize melody at the end of the enemy F a o. Course, you can easily create a melody that sounds great without using the specific notes from the melody in the courts. The only song we've looked at so far that does not explicitly use this technique is a beachy. Ultimately, because of the cords in any key, will be composed of the same seven notes of the scale, there is always an intimate relationship between them. The fact that eventually began the melody for Wake Me Up with the C note in the melody in the first court was a C motor and here with Lean on. The first note is G show. The first court is E is of no great consequence because this chord of E also contains the note G show. So there is no inherent conflict between the melody and harmony. You're just using another note from the court, not the 1st 1 So the only difference between the two songs is the fact that melody for Wake Me Up begins on the root note of the court. Arlene on the melody begins in the second with the court. The first and third bars in the main melody have substituted harmonies. That is to say that the main melody, which is the bottom of the two lines, has had the third note changed. So here we have a C shop, and here in about three, you have enough shop again, both in the same scale. Substitution is happen frequently in popular music. It allows you to change things up a little but without altering the function of the note or chord you're substituting. The rhythm is a little bit more complex than the other to some to be looked at so far, the first and fourth chords underneath the melody played on the beat. All the calls in between are off the baby. This gives the cords of rhythmic element. They sound as if they're pushing against. The main bait rhythm of the melody is played entirely off the beat, which helps really draw out against the court's underneath. You'll notice again, not just say in this example. The first and third bars differ slightly. The second and fourth bars definite differ entirely. Lino is longer four bar secrets, so a little bit longer than the vhe. But like any minute, here is a recap of the important points I want you to take away from this analysis. The melody on the cords exclusively used notes from this girl that they're related to the entire melodies. Written with only four notes. Very simple. Some of the melodies harmless to add color, a simple Colin response phrasing. It's used. There was frequent repetition on the rhythm is exciting 6. Example MIDI track: so hopefully this has given you a lot to think about. Also, Hopefully, you have understood the main points that you need to consider when writing a melody for itself. Let's go over these again one. Now it used to be a melody should incorporate notes that you have used in records or, at the very least, used in the scale that you built the chords and the melody from to keep it simple. Just two parts humility to call on the response. If you keep put one in mind, you shouldn't have too much trouble doing this. Three Rhythm is essential. Where you put the notes is as important as what notes they are. I have included a MIDI file in the key of D minor to you to practice with and hopefully come up with some amazing melody ideas. Now I've used these example cords to create an example Melody, just to give you another idea about what we're doing here and how it would look and sound. Three chords are as follows. One D minor to B. Flat major. Three f major the notes in each court or as follows. You can use these notes to start to create humanity in D minor, f d. If Okay, B flat major it be Flip de. And if in F major, we have if see okay, restrict yourself to the notes within each court. So for the first bar only use the notes D F B flat, and A. There is only one no difference between these two chords and it's B flat. These two will be the cool section of your melody. Then you have two bars to write a response with the notes. F. Let's go back to the colon response aspect that we talked about earlier to help you create a great rhythm for you, milady. Here I've created a simple rhythm. Firstly, let's concentrate on the click track. This provides us with our pedestrian beat. Imagine walking down the street. You put one foot in front of another over and over on. This never changes. That's your pedestrian be now. If I play the rhythm I've created alongside the click track, you will notice two things. Firstly, the initial part of rhythm. The 1st 3 notes are on the beat. That is to say, there exactly in line with the click track. You hear them together. Having the last beats off the B allows me to leave the rhythm unresolved. That is to say it will become resolved when the second part or the second bar is added. The second part of rhythm falls between the clicks. This is an easy way to give that response feel to the start of the conversation, both parts of the rhythm feeling balance. The first part creates tension. The second part resolves the tension, ready for the loop to start again. I've made the 1st 2 beats of the bar off and then we've confront off on off on effect, which have in the last note on the bait gives that sense of resolution to the whole loop.