When a verse and chorus melody use the same notes, the song starts to sound tired.
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It’s important to write a chorus melody that sounds like an answer, in a sense, to the verse melody. That’s achieved in several different ways, but probably the most important way is to pitch the chorus higher. A song can sound tired if it dwells in and around the same five or six pitches in both the verse and the chorus.
Here are some other important things to keep in mind when writing song melodies:
- If your chorus is pitched a lot higher than the verse, or if the verse is very short, a pre-chorus may be necessary to help make a connection between verse and chorus. Katy Perry’s “Firework” is a good recent example.
- Adding a climactic high point gives a melody a sense of purpose and design. Find a spot, usually in the second half of the chorus melody, to place the highest note.
- The rhythms of your chorus melody should be simpler than verse rhythms. That helps the chorus become more “hooky” and more easily remembered.
- Use repetition as a compositional technique. Good melodies are often comprised of short melodic ideas that repeat throughout. Think of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and do this simple exercise: make note of how many times a musical phrase in that song is something that was sung a little earlier. Most the melodic ideas are simply repeats of earlier melodic fragments.
- Use mostly stepwise motion, and avoid excessive melodic leaping. That helps make sure that your melodies are singable. Nothing helps your song’s success as much as making it easy for the general listening public to hum it as they go through their day.
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