Writing Stronger Melodies: Lessons from trees, smoke, muscles and waves (Music Composition)

Jonathan Haidle

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11 Lessons (1h 32m)
    • 1. Class Intro

    • 2. Trees

    • 3. Smoke

    • 4. Muscles - part 1

    • 5. Muscles - part 2

    • 6. Waves - part 1

    • 7. Waves - part 2

    • 8. Waves - part 3

    • 9. Class Project

    • 10. Student Critique: Yash (part 1)

    • 11. Student Critique: Yash (part 2)

43 students are watching this class

Project Description

One of the most important skills for composers/songwriters is melodic development.  And to write stronger melodies, it’s extremely helpful to create a lot of variations on your idea - and then pick the strongest one.  The best way to learn how to do this, is through practice. And in the beginning, let this practice be deliberate and structured - like how I’ve outlined in the worksheet.  Over time, you may do this less formally and spontaneously.


  1. Use a current song/melody you’ve already written, or write something new.  Maybe only have it be 8-16 bars, as the value from this exercise comes from creating more variations.  The longer your melodic idea is, the harder it will be to create more variations.
  2. Pick ONE of the following ways to develop your melody (trees, smoke, muscles or waves), and follow the instructions in that section of the worksheet.   If you are ambitious, try applying another technique to the same melodic idea.  
    1. Note: you might want to record your working session, to help remember/preserve your ideas.  The more variations you create, the harder it can become to remember them all. If you can write them down - notation, or TAB, etc. - even better.
  3. Post your work to Skillshare.
    1. Record your original melodic idea, and then all the variations you’ve developed.  Record via audio, or video, and upload this to share your development with other students.  You can record all the variations right after each other, in the same audio file.
    2. Be sure to note which technique you're applying to your melody - i.e. trees, smoke, muscles, or waves.
    3. Note - you can’t attach video/audio here, so you’ll need to host it elsewhere and provide a link.  If you know music notation, feel free to write that out as well. Writing out your melodies can be a great practice, as you can actually see the development take shape.