Songwriting: Melody

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Authored by Jimmy Kachulis

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Course Code: OSONG-315

Next Semester Starts
Jan 10, 2022

Level 3

Level 3

3-Credit Tuition

$1,497

Non-Credit Tuition

$1,250

In this class, songwriter/author Jimmy Kachulis reveals how to construct strong, expressive melodies that your audiences will remember. It begins with a focus on rhythm, showing how it can support the lyric's meanings. Then, you'll learn how the precise use of pitch can strengthen a melody, making it natural to sing, and supporting the lyric's expressive goals and possibilities. You'll learn effective ways to write melodies over common modes and chords, and develop these ideas into complete songs.

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You will learn to:

  • Create memorable melodies
  • Use counterpoint effectively in song construction
  • Develop melodic ideas over different modes
  • Incorporate melodies across chords into different song sections
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Syllabus

Lesson 1: Creating Rhythmic Ideas for Your Lyrics

  • Lyric Setting and Emphasis
  • Phrase Length and Space
  • Phrase Beginnings/Stressed Words
  • Phrase Endings
  • Downbeat Endings for the Title

Lesson 2: Rhythm Ideas for Building Song Sections

  • Repetition
  • Contrasting Ideas
  • Number of Phrases
  • Contrasting Sections: Verse/Prechorus/Chorus

Lesson 3: Creating Melodic Ideas On Chord Changes

  • One Chord Tone and Decorations
  • Two Chord Tones and Passing Notes
  • Arpeggios and Scale Lines

Lesson 4: Chord-Tone Melodies in Song Sections

  • Keep the Rhythm, Change the Shape
  • Repetition, Sequence, Inversion
  • Shortening and Lengthening the Motive

Lesson 5: Melodies across Chord Changes

  • Connecting Chords
  • In Sync Phrasing, Out of Sync Phrasing, Longer Melody Phrasing
  • Cadences: Major and Minor

Lesson 6: Developing Melodies across Chords into Song Sections

  • Verse/Refrain
  • Verse/Chorus
  • Verse/Prechorus/Chorus

Lesson 7: Blues Melodies

  • Major Pentatonic and Major Blues Melody
  • Uses of Major Blues Melodies
  • Minor Pentatonic and Minor Blues Melody

Lesson 8: Developing Ideas into Songs

  • Developing a Major Blues Song

Lesson 9: Melodies over Modes

  • Mixolydian Melody Over One Chord
  • Mixolydian Melody Over Diatonic and Fast Chords
  • Dorian Melody Over One Chord
  • Dorian Melody Over Diatonic and Fast Chords

Lesson 10: Developing Modal Ideas into Songs

  • Mixolydian Song
  • Dorian Song

Lesson 11: Creating Melodic Ideas Against Chord Changes

  • Two-Part Counterpoint: Parallel Motion
  • Similar, Oblique, Contrary

Lesson 12: Using Counterpoint in Songs

  • Different Bass In Verse and Chorus
  • Sections Against the Same Bass Riff
  • Song Against a Melodic Riff

Requirements

Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

  • Familiarity with popular music song form
  • Basic proficiency on a harmonic instrument
  • Ability to create simple short melodic ideas
  • Ability to sing melodies or have a vocalist sing them for you
  • Ability to create original lyrics (optional - will be provided, if needed)

Required Textbook(s)

Software Requirements

  • Word processing program that can open and save documents in Rich Text Format (RTF)
  • A basic audio recording tool that will allow you to record yourself and save the recording in MP3 format. You will have a tool to use for this purpose inside the learning environment. Alternatively, you can use software like Audacity (PC) or GarageBand (Mac) .

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact support@online.berklee.edu for any questions.


General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

Jimmy Kachulis

Author

Jimmy Kachulis teaches songwriting and lyric writing at Berklee, conducts clinics nationwide, and has helped thousands of songwriters develop and maximize their skills. Look through the bios of some of today's best songwriters, and his name comes up again and again; his students' works have earned Grammy nominations, and been recorded by a vast range of artists on major and independent labels. An accomplished composer, arranger and conductor, he has worked with great artists like George Coleman, Jon Hendricks, John Lewis and Martha Reeves, and his compositions have been featured on scores from The Sopranos to Touched By An Angel. Jimmy's songs and arrangements for "Island Breeze", by legendary guitarist, Eric Gale, have been re-released and distributed worldwide under the Warner Brothers label.


Sarah Brindell

Instructor

Sarah Brindell is a songwriter, arranger, producer, musician, and Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music. With touring credits around the world, she has shared the stage and recorded with many renowned artists including Norah Jones, Carole King, and Raul Midon. Her original songs can be heard on many television shows including MTV’s Made. She was a finalist in the Song of the Year contest as part of VH-1’s Save the Music Foundation, as well as the Billboard World Song Contest. A Summa Cum Laude graduate from Boston University, she holds a Master's degree in Music Education, and teaches courses in songwriting, harmony, ear training, arranging, and stage performance. She conducts clinics nationwide and internationally, and continually helps thousands of students to reach their full potential as professional musicians and songwriters.


Shane Adams

Instructor

Shane Adams is a twice GRAMMY nominated music educator, and award-winning producer, and songwriter. Shane is president of Artist Accelerator and is a founding instructor for Berklee Online, where he has taught lyric writing and songwriting since 2003.

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Shane is a featured songwriter and instructor for the Taylor Swift Education Center at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum where he received their TOP TEN HITMAKER award for 2014. He co-developed their groundbreaking “Words and Music” curriculum which has enabled thousands of elementary through high school students to learn to the craft of songwriting. Shane has served on the Hall of Fame’s museum expansion advisory board and has facilitated other music outreach programs such as “Poetry in Motion” co-sponsored by the Nashville Arts Commission and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

In 2013, Shane was named the Music Industry Professional of the Year by Chowan University, and in 2005 Shane earned the Tennessee-Songwriter-Association-International’s highest honor, the Hallman Award, for outstanding contributions to the songwriting community.

Shane is currently the featured composer for Fjor Films and has produced the music and scored several independent film projects, including Fortune Cookie (featured at both the Sundance and Hollywood Film Festivals).

Shane writes for iSing Magazine, and is an internationally recognized songwriting lecturer and music production panelist.

He is currently developing two songwriting apps for the iPad platform, and is in pre-production as c-host/co-producer for “Studio Soundtrack,” a songwriting radio program for National Public Radio. Read Less


Neil Diercks

Instructor

Neil Diercks is a Los Angeles-based songwriter, song coach, and musician. He served for many years in various capacities at Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., in Nashville, beginning as an intern and eventually becoming Manager of A&R Activities. It was within this role that he worked with hit songwriters including Gary Burr, Steve Bogard, Stephony Smith, Jeff Stevens, and Victoria Shaw, who penned hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Ricky Martin, and Christina Aguilera.

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Neil is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Berklee College of Music, where he studied songwriting, voice, and music business, and went on to serve on the Board of Trustees for three years. He has lectured and led songwriting workshops internationally, and has won several awards for his teaching, including the UPCEA Excellence in Teaching award (2015); the Pearson Excellence In Online Teaching award (2015); The Berklee College of Music Distinguished Faculty Award for Berklee Online (2016). He currently collaborates with songwriters and artists in Los Angeles and around the globe. Read Less


Ben Camp

Instructor

Ben Camp teaches songwriting at Berklee College of Music. His songs have appeared in film and TV on networks like MTV, CBS, NBC, Fox, and more. He's written singles for Brice Fox, Tiesto, Victoria Justice, Sam Feldt, and others. His mission as an educator is to get you to write the best versions of the songs that only you can write.


Noah Lubert

Instructor

Noah Lubert is a songwriter, keyboardist and producer based in Nashville, Tennessee. His credits and collaborators include Emily Rowed (604 Records), Nate Smith (Sony/ATV), Brooke Alexx, Chris Condon (Billy Ray Cyrus), Angie K, Lily Kincaide and Jaclyn Kenyon. Since relocating to Nashville, Noah’s songs have been included on top country Spotify playlists and tours. His continued passion for education and academia have led to teaching stints on Berklee’s Boston campus at Aspire: Five-Week Music Performance Intensive and Berklee’s Summer Songwriting Intensive, as well as continued work teaching Songwriting and Production Fundamentals for Songwriters through Berklee Online.


Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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