Piano Player World

How to Compose a Melody on Piano

creating melodiesIt doesn’t matter how great of a bass line, chord progression, or lyrics you have. None of these work well without an appropriate melody lying on top of them. Just think about your favorite songs: what do you remember first? In many cases, it’s the melody that pops into your head and makes a song stand out.

So your task when you are working on your next original composition is to devise the perfect melody that expresses your message and makes your song memorable.

It can be difficult to just sit down and write a melody. Sure, there are probably a few people out there who can do it. But learning how to compose a melody on piano is as challenging as learning to tie our shoes when we’re little.

Yes, it is important, but it is difficult to get our fingers in the right spots. While it is difficult to tell anyone where exactly to begin, there are a few helpful tips that any songwriter can take with them into that next composition session they will have.

First, you need to decide on the right kind of mood for your song. Do you have a serious emotion? Is your song a joyous love song? Are you expressing a sad feeling? How about an angry one? Try to figure out exactly what you’re feeling, and aim for notes and rhythm that communicate that mood to others.

Once you decide on the mood, let your fingers do some exploring. Like wanderers traveling through an enchanted forest, let your fingers surprise you with what they find. The piano is a place for limitless opportunity, so when composing a melody for piano, try to experiment with what possibilities are available.

piano improvisation tips

selecting melodiesRemember that you will likely ultimately reject 99% of the melodic ideas you find. But the longer you play around with different notes, the more likely you are of finding that ideal melody that fits your ears perfectly. You might want to check out our section on piano ear training for more details on this.

When dancing around on the keys, one incredibly helpful piece of knowledge is to know your scales. Most melodies will occur within the same scale, meaning that if your song is in the key of C major then your melody will commonly fall on the notes that make up C major.

If your song is in B minor, then your melody will commonly fall on the notes that make up B minor. If you’re having trouble finding notes that seem to follow one another well, then you probably aren’t playing notes within the same scale!

Remember that each song usually occurs within one key, so if you know that key, then you can immediately eliminate several notes from your options and simplify your process.

Finally, finding a melody doesn’t only have to occur at the piano. Hum all of the time. In fact, sometimes sitting at a piano can be limiting in the sense that you are relying on your ears hearing the next notes from your fingers rather than letting the creativity of your own mind wander. When you’re away from the piano, try to just casually hum the parts of the melody you already know, and see what naturally comes to mind next!

There is no magic formula to composing a melody on the piano. The right combination of time, talent, and passion will transform even the vaguest idea into a beautiful work of art.

songwriting science david jasmine

david jasmine songwriting science

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