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Because I have been analysing melodies and themes since my early teens, I have decided to create a series of lessons.
You can read the first part here, which describes how to start thinking about melodic writing. Analysing strong melodies, irrespective of genre, is an enjoyable and inspiring way to start composing.

http://www.ianstewart.eu/melodic_writing.php
 

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Interesting!
I think we should have most "visible" pop composers/singers sign a pledge to write melodically, don't you?
Where did the melody go in commercial songs?, so many toggles between 2 or 3 notes and you get a song nowadays to feed the masses (I don't believe in a "demand" economy, it's all dominated by supply). Here in North America if I want to hear a song with a NICE melody (ie that I am able to remember and sing after the song is over) I tune to the "Spanish" channels: fortunately there still are great ballad writers in Lat. America with a sense of melody. Or some religious/inspirational channel.
Else, I think the Asians (pop songs) are doing a great job too (eg Japan/Korea/Taiwan/Hong Kong): check out the equivalents of "American Idol" there. As for France I am afraid the Chanson Française is not what it used to be (not to mention the lyrics part).... also a lot of meaningless toggles and primitive harmony.

Yes, we need the melody to come back mainstream (and maybe in today's jazz as well.... heard quite a bit of stuff lately that is "held together" by the arranger/orchestrator, the basic tune was pretty poor IMO) so thanks for your efforts Ian to draw attention to the power of the MELODY!

But... I like richer harmonies too. That will be the next step towards..."melody-harmony-felicity".
 

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Thank you for your reply AhCheung. You mention Chanson Française, in the 1980s I used to play with Italian bands and we used to play all the beautiful Italian songs from the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately in the 1980s a lot of Italian hit songs no longer had that tunefulness (and for some reason they started writing in limited English as well). It seems strange that as it is melodic themes that appeal to the listener, composers seem to be disinterested. If you listen to Charlie Parker's themes they are still melodic, and there were really melodic jazz composers such as Benny Golson.
Sometimes I think that rather than really work and come up with a new form of melodic writing to suit the present times, composers have stopped trying. After all, most periods of music have had distinctive melodic forms, why not now?
 

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Thank you for your reply AhCheung. You mention Chanson Française, in the 1980s I used to play with Italian bands and we used to play all the beautiful Italian songs from the 1960s and 1970s. Unfortunately in the 1980s a lot of Italian hit songs no longer had that tunefulness (and for some reason they started writing in limited English as well). It seems strange that as it is melodic themes that appeal to the listener, composers seem to be disinterested. If you listen to Charlie Parker's themes they are still melodic, and there were really melodic jazz composers such as Benny Golson.

**** Parker quotes many songs in his improvs... no doubt his frame of reference was very melodic (cf below).... even more melodic were the improvs of cool jazzmen such as Desmond & Baker, don't you think?
Sometimes I think that rather than really work and come up with a new form of melodic writing to suit the present times, composers have stopped trying. After all, most periods of music have had distinctive melodic forms, why not now?

***** expediency? overt reliance on formulas/software made music? belief that the computer can "make music"? or belief that "melody don't matter"?
or..... writing stuff for people who don't really need to know how to sing?
Unfortunately young composers (I am talking creative kids) tend to believe that the usual toggle between 2-3-4 notes at max IS a melody, nowadays, if they mostly listen to "commercial music".
[/QUOTE]

I find your lesson pretty interesting but I think the underlying harmony should be mentioned for one to really understand what is happening melodically?
 

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I find your lesson pretty interesting but I think the underlying harmony should be mentioned for one to really understand what is happening melodically?
Thank you again for your comments Ah Cheung. To answer you question about the underlying harmony, I want to concentrate on the melodic construction only. For this reason I have chosen melodies that work unaccompanied, or the harmony is implied in the theme itself. Sometimes I think it is good to hone in on specific features for clarity.
 

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OK, gotcha!
BTW, just heard a nicely reharmonized version of Brahms Lullaby...
 
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