Writing melodies and chords
Writing melodies and chords can be difficult. The best future bass tracks always have an excellent catchy melody & chord progression. Today we will go over some techniques, that help you get better at writing hooks.
1. Know what emotion you're trying to capture
Before you start writing a progression, it’s good to think about what kind of mood is the track going to be in. If you’re aiming at a happier feel, try using major scales. If you’re trying to achieve a more mysterious vibe, try writing some minor scale progressions.
2. Make the progression more interesting
To make any progression more interesting, try some of these techniques:
- invert the chords
- pitch the chords up/down an octave
- use 7th/9th extended chords for a more interesting feel
A minor 7th chord is a triad with a minor third stacked on top. Accordingly a major 7th is extended by a major third. If we number all the notes of a scale starting from the root note, a 7th chord could be described as 1-3-5-7. A 9th chord would be 1-3-5-7-9.
3. Mix and match in Session View
If you’re struggling with writing chord progressions that are interesting in themselves, try making more chord progressions and have a melody writing session. Put all the chord progressions in Session View, make another track and write melodies on another. When you come up with melodies, try matching it to multiple chord progressions to see which one fits it best.
4. Fold the keys
Confused by all the music theory knowledge required to make chords & progressions? Try inserting all the scale keys into a clip, moving them outside of the loop and clicking the Fold button. You’ll be left only with the keys of your scale.
5. Start from one note
Sometimes it’s hard to think of a melody instantly. Try just inserting one note and going somewhere (up or down) with it. Try to listen to your head - if your head gives you a hint of a melody, try it out and see if it works.
6. Make a lot of instruments for your melodies before writing
Some melodies will sound good only on certain instruments. For instance a gliding vocal chop in Simpler will do a different job than a simple saw synth pluck with reverb. Make a lot of instruments and try out melodies on all of them to see if they fit.
7. Chop up an acapella
If you’re feeling stuck writing, try importing a random acapella into the Arrangement and chopping it up. Later on import the chopped parts into a drum rack and play around with them on a MIDI keyboard. If you find any good melodies, try to match a chord progression to it. Here’s a full article on how to do that.
8. Use MIDI packs and change them up
There’s a lot of MIDI packs out there with melodies and chord progressions which you can easily change up to create your own patterns. Here’s some of our future bass MIDI packs.
9. Take an existing chord progression/melody and change it
An approach I like a lot is figuring out the exact chord progression of my favourite tracks and changing them up. I like to do the same thing with melodies. I also like to change up the rhythm and speed of LFO modulations to make the progression even more „mine”.
10. Reverse the melody
Try inversing a melody you already have. Chances are it will work well for another part of a track, like a bridge or an outro. In Ableton you can do it by selecting the notes and pressing the Rev button in Clip View.
11. Use the arpeggiator
Future bass uses a lot of arpeggiated patterns. Making them is simple - you make a chord progression, put the MIDI clip onto a track with a melodic instrument, put an arpeggiator MIDI effect onto it and tweak its settings (rate, steps). If you’d like even more control over the notes, you can then record the arp’s generated notes onto another MIDI track. Just route a new MIDI track’s „Track In” to the track with the Arpeggiator and hit arm & record.
12. Hum or sing along to chord progressions or other tracks
This is an approach by Flume - he often makes chord progressions, turns on Voice Memos on his phone and sings along to a chord progression until he finds a good hook. You can do the same thing with a track you like - or even improvise on an instrument to it.
Have fun with your future bass ideas. See you in the next articles!
Check out this article with other 5 ways to write a melody, including Flume's tips!
Check out our new MELODY COURSE:
We are offering a great Future Bass MIDI Pack with predesigned melodies and chord progressions to chose from as inspiration. Also, if you want to dive deeper into writing chords, feel free to take a look at our course: Harmony & Chord Progressions.
I’m a music maker who likes to share his experiences with other producers. I regularly show up with tutorials, articles & project files at PML.
Skype lessons with me: http://bit.ly/pml_s_one2one