Songwriting: Melody

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Authored by Jimmy Kachulis

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Course Code: OSONG-315

Now Enrolling for Sept 30 Term Start

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

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 (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

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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.


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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. To learn more about Sarah Brindell, visit www.sarahbrindell.com.

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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