Many of you have expressed interest in learning to write new tunes over standards changes, then taking those new tunes and writing charts on them.
I have wanted to get this going for quite a long time now, and I figured now was as good of time as any to just start somewhere.
Before we jumped right into writing full blown tunes over standards changes, or original tunes with original changes, I thought that covering a few basics may help class members if they have never written any melodies before.
The following tutorial covers just a few basics of what melodies are and how they are constructed. Its up to the imagination of the composer to use a combination of steps, skips and leaps to construct the best melody possible, so its really not an easy task and will take some practice.
Good melodies oftentimes outline chord changes so both melody writing and chord changes go hand in hand to a certain extent, especially when writing tunes in certain styles (i.e. bepop tunes)
If you would like to try completing this exercise, download the PDF file of the sample melodies here.
Use the rhythms provided to compose the best melodies you can, then scan into PDF format and upload using the upload button below. Class members can then learn from others’ mistakes and successes. Depending on the response, I will try to post as many class member assignments as I can on this page. We’ll see what happens!
Print 6 stave manuscript paper here
Download melodic exercise in PDF here. Write out your melodies, scan to PDF and upload below. If you would like to put your name on the assignment, feel free to do so! I will post and embed them on this page for other class members to learn from.
Upload your completed assignment using the uploader below. When the file name turns green its done! (PDF format only please)
Class Member Assignments
Submitted by: Shane Kershaw
Submitted by: Scanlarosa Music
Submitted by: Joe Britton
Submitted by: Wooly
Submitted by: K.J Bowman (Revised)
Submitted by: Bill Gidley
The following is another submitted by a class member. The first example is not too bad, but there are some issues with the bebop example. Can you guess what they are? If so, leave comments below.
Below is the melody I worked out over these rhythmic exercises. I added the chord changes AFTER I wrote the melodies. I definitely learned that writing a melody that works will inherently imply a basic chord progression to a certain extent.
Notice for the 2nd phrase of the first example, I “modulated” temporarily to the relative minor (Ami) of the tune. This works well for an 8 bar phrase like this without having to change keys completely. Ami functions as the 6th chord (as does A7), and also is the relative minor to C Major.
The bebop tune does the same thing in the 5th bar. I temporarily went to D minor before turning it back around to F major for the 2nd “8”. The second 8 bars would differ in the second phrase (2nd half) to bring the tune to a different key for the bridge.
For those of you who didn’t add chord changes, try to see if what you wrote will fit a “typical” chord progression for a medium swing standard, or a bebop tune of the 40s.
Submitted by: Jim Martin