Learn how to write a melody, using a music theory hack from Dog Blood (Skrillex & Boys Noize) “Break Law”, from their new EP “Turn Off The Lights”.
Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate Harmony and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory. We help you make great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! If that sounds useful to you, then subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit that bell to get notified every Thursday, when we publish our new video. Also, if you’re new to our channel, be sure to download our free book “12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords” below. Alright, it’s time to open your DAW to hack music theory. But first… tea!
BREAK LAW (off the new Dog Blood EP from Skrillex & Boys Noize) contains an awesome Indian vocal sample, which instantly hooks you! The original vocal is obviously not by Dog Blood, but they’ve credited the late Indian composer Aadesh Shrivastava as a co-writer, so we think it’s originally from his song “Sona Sona” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBo2-e8Dnsg). Now, Skrillex and Boys Noize did a great job of finding and re-using this melody, cos it’s super catchy but it’s also super interesting, and those two elements are usually mutually exclusive. In other words, if you want a catchy melody, it can’t be too interesting otherwise people won’t be able to sing it, and therefore it won’t be memorable. And if you want an interesting melody, it can’t be too catchy otherwise it’ll become too familiar, and then it won’t be interesting anymore. So, how can this melody be both interesting and catchy? Well, the composer very cleverly wrote it to be both simple and complex. It’s simple in terms of its pitches, which makes it easy to sing and remember, but it’s complex in terms of its rhythm, which keeps it interesting even after countless listens. Also, here’s a bonus hack for you. The original melody is actually five bars long, and that’s another great method for writing interesting melodies: use an odd number of bars!
Alright, now you’re gonna learn how to use this theory to make your own version. So, start by setting up four bars of 4/4, with your grid set to 1/32 notes, and your tempo set to 108 BPM. “Break Law” is in D Phrygian, so we’ll use it too.
STEP 1. PITCH
Right, so the “pitch” element is the one you’re gonna keep simple, in order to make your melody catchy. So, choose only three notes from D Phrygian, which is: D E♭ F G A B♭ C. The original melody uses G, A and B♭, but you can use any three notes from the scale. And if you want, you can choose a fourth note that will be used exclusively as a 1/32 note to decorate your melody, and provide some variation. The original melody uses C as its decorative note, but once again, you can use any note from the scale.
And by the way, if you need help writing melodies, then simply use the Melody Checklist in our Songwriting & Producing PDF (click & scroll down). It’s the ultimate list of dos and don’ts for writing great melodies. And on that note, just a quick reminder that our epic summer sale is finishing this Sunday (9 June 2019), so grab 33% OFF all our PDFs, lessons, and our online course.
STEP 2. RHYTHM
Now, the “rhythm” element is the one you’re gonna make more complex, in order to make your melody interesting. Remember, if your pitches and your rhythm are both simple, then people will get tired of your melody after a few listens. A more complex rhythm will give your melody depth, which will in turn give it longevity. So, here’s how it’s done. You actually write four melodic segments (known as phrases), which then come together to form your melody. But, and this is a very important but, in order to make your whole melody unpredictable and therefore interesting, make each phrase different, and don’t stick to the bar lines. For example, you can see our first phrase actually ends in the second bar, and our third phrase actually begins before the third bar. And lastly, in the Dog Blood track, the melody is played over a droning bass line that just keeps pounding that root note, so we’ll do that too.
Okay, so now that you’ve got one section down, how do you write the other sections? How do you transition between them (especially when they’re in different keys)? And, how do you structure and arrange your song? These are issues that many songwriters and producers struggle with, and that’s exactly why we made our online course Apprenticeship #1. So, if you wanna overcome these obstacles once and for all, then sign up now!
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
Level 1 - Read our free book (below) & watch our YouTube videos
Level 2 - Read our "Part 1" book & "Songwriting & Producing" PDF
Level 3 - Practice making music using our lessons (PDF+MIDI+WAV)
Level 4 - Learn our secret art of song-whispering & finish your music
Hack Music Theory is a pioneering DAW method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, the "Hack Music Theory" YouTube channel teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony
Thumbnail photo courtesy of ukf.com/news/watch-skrillex-tempa-t-buzzing-in-the-studio/11591
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