• Christine Nekoye

Elements of A Song


We might consider melody to be the single most important element within a song. In everyday language, this is the element we call ‘the tune’. In technical terms, however, the melody is a series of;

  • Rythym (Pace & Speed)

  • Pitch (High & Low Notes)

  • Volume ( Loud & Soft)

The best melodies are considered to be "catchy". This typically means that the melody is memorable, which should be the desired effect.

How To Develop Good Melody

A good start to write good melodies is to just listen to good ones; Listen to the songs whose melodies you particularly like and get inspired. Perhaps, the melodies you’ll write at first will sound similar to those but don’t worry, that’s a natural process. The more you write, the more creative you will get.

You can also just sit at the piano and get inspired by playing a few random notes on the keyboard, or by improvising over a melody you already know.

Another good way to create melodies is to sing them, or whistling them, and then playing them on your instrument. That process will allow you to sing, whistle or hum a melody exactly the way you want it to be and create a sequence of note that you may have never come up with on your instrument. Remember: music comes from inside you, the instrument is just… an instrument!

Characteristics of A Good Melody;

Keep it easy to sing and easy to remember.

Use mainly stepwise motion. Stepwise motion means moving from one note to an adjacent one without skipping a note. Stepwise motion ensures that the melody is more easily singable

You need a contour which goes somewhere. Common contours are ascending (goes up), descending (goes down), arching (goes up, then back down), and U-shaped (goes down, then up again). These contours all go somewhere and 'tell a story'. Melodies which wander aimlessly are usually boring and hard to remember

Repetition, repetition, repetition. A very effective way to build a phrase is by repeating 1 or 2 basic ideas or gestures, often called motives. Repetition can be exact or can be inverted.

You need variations. If you do something 3 times in a row, make sure the 3rd time is varied somehow. 3 consecutive identical repetitions will be boring.

Beat and Rhythm

The beat of a song is what "drives" the listener to "feel" the song (fast or slow). It is also referred to as the tempo (speed) of the song. Because music stirs our emotions, we often are drawn to a song because of the beat. The rhythm, on the other hand, is the beat that the various instruments (drums, bass, guitar, and keys) create.

Genre and Style

The genre of a song (rock, pop, country or r&b) is typically established by the beat and rhythm of the song. The style may vary once the song is constructed with the words and/or instruments. The style of the song branches out from the genre, such as punk rock, alternative, hip hop, bluegrass etc.


What is being "said" in the song comes through the words called the lyrics. The lyric describes the concept, theme, and/or title of the song. A lyric will typically rhyme in rhythmic phrases in the sections of music.