Songwriting: Melody

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Authored by Jimmy Kachulis

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Course Code: OSONG-315

Next Semester Starts
June 27, 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.


Anne Heaton

Instructor

Anne Heaton is a singer-songwriter and pianist who has captured audience imaginations for over fifteen years with her songs that are, by turns, “tender, barbed and spiritual” (Washington Post). She’s been featured by the New York Times Music Podcast, played on NPR, at the Sundance Film Festival and for Lilith Fair (2010). Known for the infectious energy of her live performances – “a natural performer [with] a rich, soaring voice” (Seattle Times) – Anne has played over 1,000 headlining shows nationwide, and has shared the stage with artists such as Jewel, Sarah McLachlan, and jazz drummer Max Roach. Anne has taught songwriting and creative practices at Interlochen, Berklee College of Music, for the GRAMMY Camps and through her own online songwriting program, Soul Songs School. Anne is currently earning her Master’s in Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she intends to research the outcomes of songwriting as a healing tool for teenagers. Anne lives in Milwaukee where she enjoys coffee, Lake Michigan and being a mom to two freethinking daughters. www.anneheaton.com


Rodney Alejandro

Instructor

In his 30+ year career, Rodney has become recognized as a protean polymath within the entertainment industry. In his most recent rock ‘n’ roll chapter, he was a performing member of the international pop band the Script. As the keyboardist/music director, he was responsible for arranging and weaving the group's hit songs into an unforgettable concert experience. Before his tenure with the Script, Rodney built a career as a consummate professional behind the scenes. 

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Rodney’s work includes songwriting/producing chart-topping songs in the English, Latin, and Asian music markets. He has collaborated with artists such as Quincy Jones, Sting, the Temptations, and Ray Charles. Rodney has also performed with many artists from around the world including Mańa, Babyface, Sofia Carson, and Stevie Wonder among many others. His work has earned industry recognition with projects garnering Grammy and Latin Grammy nominations, winning Billboard Latin pop album of the year in 2004, and multiple gold and platinum-selling record awards. Rodney has also taken on television opportunities and was the main title composer/producer for the Golden Globe winner for best drama series The Shield, as well as the composer/music producer for the drama series Thief.

In 2006, he was honored by his alma mater Berklee College of Music as the Alumnus of the Year, and in 2011 received recognition as the Music Education Advocate of the Year from the Recording Academy Texas Chapter. Rodney is currently an associate professor at Berklee College of Music where he teaches in the Songwriting Department, sharing his knowledge and experience from his distinguished music career.

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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.

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