Thinking Out Loud – Limiting Composing Ability By Singing

A melody should be unique, a “stand-alone,” and sing-able. What grabs the attention of the listener and makes a lasting impression enough so that they are still humming one the piece is over is the melody. So, should melodies be composed directly from singing?

Not always.

While singing can most certainly aid in the compositional process with finding smooth lines that are easy to replicate vocally, there are some drawbacks.

Believing that melodies should be vocal oriented, “sing-able,” or otherwise logically good according to what a voice can do places a large limit on a composer.

For those that are terrible vocalists (remember, a voice is an instrument like any other – the ability to sing is as inbred as the ability to play the saxophone from birth; hence, it must be learned and developed) they already have the limitation of composing melodies that are constrained by range, intonation, vocal gymnastics, etc.

For trained vocalists, while they can certain accomplish more, they are still limited by what they already know. In other words, the melodies sung are merely a regurgitation of pieces performed in the past that are carved in their vocal muscle memory. And that goes for any instrument, too. Were are parrots, forming variations of music through the skills adapted in pieces we have already learned and played – compromising our originality through the use of an instrument.

So what is one to do.

Composing a melody by just singing ability (or using a single instrument) should be taken with caution. While it can bring up some good ideas, it should never be the primary reliance of writing a piece of music. Intuition, theory, imagination, experimentation, artistry should supplement in the large areas where skills lack in. Only then can a amazing melody be composed.

Just thinking out loud.

Bryan Waring
Bryan M. Waring

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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