Tip #102 – Ending on a “Wrong” Note

I dislike using the word “wrong” – mostly because a note is wrong only if you don’t like it and you purposely played it. So in that case, anything musically done with purpose is right.

That being said, on with today’s topic:

Sometimes, I find myself ending a phrase, melody, or musical idea on a note that appears in the chord. While that is not necessarily a problem, I do find it predictable. Especially if the harmony is stagnant.

Today is a gentle reminder that you should experiment with ending on melodic tones that are not the tonic or a chord member of the present playing harmony. This can allow a feeling on continuation or mystery. Irresolution that can develop into a new idea.

See how different tension tones work or sound better/worse than each other.

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Tip #96- Last-Minute Chorus Key Change

You might have already heard this in a song on the radio or on your playlist today. Nonetheless, it is a cool topic to cover.

Even with an awesome chorus in your song or exciting exposition in your composition, you might want to spice it up.

Take this mock-chorus below:

One thing that we can do is repeat the chorus, but transpose the section up an entire interval – creating a key change last minute to surprise the audience. The most commonly used intervals are the minor second (m2):

Major second (M2):

And minor third (m3):

Experiment with all three, or try a rarely used interval!

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Tip #68 – Boxed Melody

Continuing with the idea of limitation to unlock creativity, take into the idea of boxed melody.

Basically, this means keeping the span of the melody to a relatively close interval (at most a P5) over a set bass pitch.

Below is a commonality of limited melodic range found in blues harmony. Play around with setting yourself some criteria of limitations as to which pitches you can use over each unique harmonic root. Don’t always make it tonal, too. Experiment and have fun!


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Tip #8 – Finding That Melodic Pair with Contrary Motion

Have you ever noticed that when we ask a question, our voices tend to wander higher in pitch? Even as you were reading that pervious question, the voice in your head must have had direction in their tone, contour, and phrasing. When someone answers a question, the voice goes in the opposite motion and lowers in pitch.

Sure, can you find examples where this does not happen? Yeah, but it is a phenomenon of a natural occurrence of contrary motion in contour.

Say you have a melodic fragment, and idea, that needs some kind of “answer” to it. First, observe the melodic intervals, direction, and shape of the melodic line.

Now, flip that shape upside-down in your head. For example: if it went up, have the melody go down now in roughly the same interval area. This adds a complemental structure to the melody.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.