Creating and Hearing a Song or Music Composition Using Your Own Ideas

Learning to hear multiple melodic lines and harmonies in your mind is complicated, but once you have the melody created most of the work has been completed for you. With enough time and practice, you can learn to master the skill of composing completely in your own mind.

By learning to compose in your head, you can create more interesting compositions that don't rely upon the use of an external source to validate the sound you envision. Songwriters must become competent at setting words to music and understand what rhythms work best to support a given melody.

A true mastery of songwriting takes practice, skill, and dedicated work. Don't rely on tricks to create songs quickly. If you want your music to last, you must put in the effort to learn how to compose without tricks and shortcuts.

Creating a Rhythm

Write your lyrics down on a sheet of paper and place it in a visible location on your desk. Review the lyrics and place a slash over any syllables that need to be accented. Place a horizontal line across any unaccented syllables. Check your work by speaking the lyrics out loud. Listen for any areas where the syllables in the lyrics are accented.

Once finished, get someone else to read your lyrics and double-check to make sure the accents are in the right place. Use the accent markings to create a rhythm from your lyrics. Don't worry about the melody right now, just write the rhythm down without worrying about how the music fits into a standard musical staff.

Start your metronome and use it to figure out which rhythms are eighth, quarter, half, or whole note or some form of triplets by starting the metronome at 60 beats per minute and reciting the lyrics with the accents you created in tempo. If you don't have a metronome, get one. In the meantime, use a stopwatch or a clock on the wall to keep time by counting the seconds.

Edit your rhythm as necessary to create a smooth flow between syllables. After finalizing the rhythm, identify the important accents in the rhythm to help define the start of each measure. Add a bar line just before the strongest accented syllables and try and see if your rhythm fits a standard time signature.

Count the beats in each measure and add time signatures to indicate each time change. For example, a measure that has a total of four beats uses a 4/4 written at the front of the measure. Three beats use a 3/4 and two beats use a 2/4 time signature.

Creating Melody

Start sing a melody based on the rhythm you created. Record your singing and sing your lyrics repeatedly until you begin to feel comfortable with the changes in pitch and settle upon a melody that works. Play your recording and listen to each note in your song.

Use a "hunt and peck" technique on the piano when first learning to notate your ideas if you can't play the piano well. Take an ear training course to develop your ear so that in the future, you can avoid the need to resort to a piano. Play chromatically by starting on middle C until you find the first note of your piece. Play the second note in your recording and then match its pitch on the piano.

Write this pitch down in accordance with the rhythm you created. Continue doing this until you have written out all of the pitches in your piece. When finished, you should have a complete melody that uses a rhythm that fits the structure of your works.

Note Durations and Tips

  • Eighth notes last half a beat.
  • Quarter notes last one beat.
  • Half notes last two beats.
  • Half notes with dots last three beats.
  • Whole notes last four beats.
  • Piano notes appear in the following order: the white key to the left of the set of two black keys is a C, the note to the left of the set of three black keys is an F.
  • Double black keys contain the notes from left to right: C-sharp/D-flat and D-sharp/E-flat.
  • Triple black keys contain the notes from left to right: F-sharp/G-flat, G-sharp/A-flat, and A-sharp/B-flat.
  • Treble clef staff notes start with E on the lowest line continue alphabetically moving from line to space. The musical alphabet starts over at A after the G-line.
  • Middle C is below the treble clef staff or above the bass clef staff with a single ledger line through the notehead. The pitch above it is D and sits below the staff without a line through the notehead.
  • Take a course in music theory, music composition, or study privately using a theory or music composition text to learn how to use chords with your melody.

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