How to Write a Prog Melody • Music Theory from Steven Wilson "Impossible Tightrope"


How to Write a Prog Melody

using the Major-Minor scale, aka Mixolydian ♭6


There aren’t many melodies that stand out nowadays. In an era where most musicians are trying to sound like the popular musicians in their genre, the result is a narrowing of musical territory. This should shock the world, as artists have historically been the brave explorers boldly trekking into unmapped cultural regions. These days, though, most “artists” tend to be copycats playing it safe, doing everything in their power (and AI’s power) to stay within the narrow boundaries of what the masses deem acceptable. The result is not art, but product.


It only requires a cursory glance in the rearview mirror to see that the artists who stand the test of time are the ones who bring something new to the table. To be clear, the artist’s job is not to reinvent the musical wheel (like Arnold Schoenberg did). But, every human has a slightly different way of seeing the world, and art is supposed to be a way for the artist to capture and share their unique worldview.


One of the rare artists who still takes his job description seriously is prog rock legend Steven Wilson. Regardless of what you think of his music (or him as a person), and regardless of whether you love or hate his band Porcupine Tree, huge respect is owed to the man for sticking to the artist’s brief. Steven Wilson’s music is not groundbreaking, but it always sounds like Steven Wilson’s music, not someone else’s. Yet he continues to mature and explore new musical ground (for him). A recent example of this is his new single “Impossible Tightrope” from upcoming album “The Harmony Codex”. And what a great name for an album, right?


At 5:46 into the epic 10-minute song, there’s a section where the bass and drums play a captivatingly syncopated groove, while Steven sings a beautifully strange melody over the top. This melody instantly stands out, as the scale is not a normal scale. The first time I heard this section, I knew I had to share it with you. So, in this PDF you’ll learn this beautifully strange scale, and our 6-step method for using it to write a prog melody. But first… Tea!



Download PDF Tutorial



Lastly, are you new to music theory? Or are you experienced, but you want a refresher? Then download our FREE BOOK (link opens in new tab). It only takes 30 minutes to read, then you’ll have a solid theory foundation that you can instantly apply to your songwriting and producing. Enjoy!

Ray Harmony
Multi award-winning college lecturer