Learn how to write a melody for an epic chorus, by using a music theory hack from Leprous “Alleviate” (off their new album “Pitfalls”).
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In last week’s lesson you learned how to write an epic chord progression, so now you’re gonna learn how to write an epic melody for it. And this theory hack is inspired by the chorus of recent single “Alleviate” by the awesome Norwegian band Leprous. But, the example in this lesson is actually our music, which we wrote using their theory. Right, so start by setting up eight bars of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/8 notes, and your tempo set to 116 BPM. Leprous use D natural minor for their chorus, and the natural minor scale is a common choice for epic music, so we’ll use it too.
STEP 1. ONCE UPON A TIME
Epic music sounds epic, because it tells an epic musical story. And when it comes to telling a story, you don’t just jump right into the best part, you first have to set the scene. So, start your melody with a short “Once upon a time...” phrase. We started our melody with a motif centered around one semitone intervals. And whatever you do for your “Once upon a time...” phrase, just be sure to use small intervals, as this phrase is intended to set things up without grabbing any attention.
STEP 2. THE MOUNTAIN
All great stories have a massive obstacle, which the main character needs to overcome in order to transform into the hero. Sometimes the obstacle is internal, sometimes external, but it always involves climbing a metaphorical mountain, or sometimes an actual mountain, quite literally. So, now that you’ve set the scene for your story, it’s time to introduce the mountain. And musically, there’s no better way to do this than a huge interval, as that instantly injects a ton of drama, while catapulting your listeners to the top of that musical mountain. Leprous use the very beautiful minor 6th interval here, but you can use a 6th or 7th. We actually used a major 6th here.
If you want the ultimate list of dos and don’ts for writing great melodies, then use the Melody Checklist in our Songwriting & Producing PDF (click and scroll down). And that PDF also contains hacks on how to write great chord progressions, bass lines, counterpoint harmony, and all the other essential songwriting and producing hacks, as well as MIDI file examples.
STEP 3. TAKE IT HOME
Alright, now that your listeners have summited that mountain and become heroes, it’s time to take them home, safely. This involves a slow and steady descent back home, but with a couple 1/8 notes, to avoid a possible anticlimax after that peak.
STEP 4. THE SEQUEL
Right, now that you’ve written your epic melody over four bars, it’s time for the sequel. So, when you take your listeners through bars 5 to 8, you need a variation in order to create that magic balance of familiarity and freshness. And the best place to make your variation is when you’re taking it home the second time. So, on your slow and steady descent, simply change up a few pitches and their note values.
So, now that you’ve got one section coming together, how do you write the other sections? Then, how do you transition between them (especially when they’re in different keys)? And then, how do you structure and arrange your song? These are issues many songwriters and producers struggle with, and that’s exactly why we made our online apprenticeship course, which guides you through every step of the music making process, from blank screen to finished song. So, if you wanna learn our secret method for writing (and finishing) great songs, which we don’t teach in these free lessons, then sign up now for our one-of-a-kind online apprenticeship course.
Thanks for reading/watching/listening, and we’ll see you next week!
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
Take Your Music to the Next Level
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This is our best-selling PDF, which includes MIDI file examples. Learn the essential hacks for songwriting & producing, like our Melody Checklist (the ultimate list of do's and don'ts for writing great melodies). You'll also learn how to write chord progressions, bass lines, riffs, counterpoint harmonies, and more!
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After learning our essential hacks, it's time to put them to practical use and start writing some new songs. Lesson packs include step-by-step PDF guides to making music for different instruments and in different genres (electronic, metal, soundtrack, etc.), as well as multitrack MIDI files of the examples.
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Go from a blank screen to a finished song, in this online video course. Learn how to write new sections for an existing section, how to transition between sections in different keys, how to structure and arrange, and much more! This course has been called "life-changing" many times, so join 800+ music makers now (from all genres), who are learning Ray's secret hack: Song Whispering.
Hack Music Theory is a pioneering DAW method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by multi-award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, Hack Music Theory teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, songwriters, DAW users, and all other music makers (guitarists, bassists, singers, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Thumbnail photo of Einar Solberg from “Alleviate” music video