It may be strange to talk about the melody before I pick apart the lyrics, but for me the melody is one of the most important elements of a song. Just as the Holy Spirit is power to our prayer, a melody is power to the song. A melody brings the song alive.
When I attended RDC’s music program, my favourite class was melody writing. I discovered I was born a writer, and the melodies have been sitting there waiting for me to pick like a daisy from a field, but the class helped me understand why the melodies were strong.
Select songwriters write their lyrics first and then write a melody to them. Others may write the lyrics and have someone else write a melody. A friend of mine, Bill Scarrott, writes incredible poetry. I have to say trying to write a melody to his words is difficult, and this is why. I have always written the melody and the words at the same time. I think this method is also proof that prayer is involved.
I want to continue to try and write melodies for other’s words, but for now I’ll talk about the melody in the “Home of Grace.”
When you take melody writing in school, you talk about the structure and then proceed to put your knowledge into practice. With me, I write first and then pick it apart, just for the sake of learning, and sharing this process with others.
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]For example; “Home of Grace” begins very conversationally, so the melody has got to be in a “conversation” range.[/clickandtweet] When people talk, their voices are not jumping all over the map, so large intervals for the story melody will not work.
Adoption is a very sacred topic. The conversational melody is gentle and rocks back and forth in a calming motion. I have included a picture to the right. Try and look just at the lyric melody line, and not the accompaniment.
In my opinion, a good song begins with an invitation. Keeping that in mind, use the same melody for at least two lines, before you build the next block. A verse is usually made up of four lines. The first two should invite, the second two should usher you to the chorus.
For example; the second line in “Home of Grace” is very similar to the first, with one or two differences to maintain interest, and build the story. Instead of starting on the very same note in the second line, the melody slightly higher. I also noted that the second line is a melodic answer to the first. Many times a question, and answer melody is great for verse format.
Before I bore you to tears, I would suggest you shape the melody of the last part of your verse as a precursor to the chorus. It is still conversational, but invites you further in and ends on a note which paves the way for the main event – the melody of the chorus. This is the melody that is going to stream through your head all day, for weeks, if you write a powerful one.
[clickandtweet handle=”” hashtag=”” related=”” layout=”” position=””]Every song has a story, this one was written for a family member who gave her son up for adoption.[/clickandtweet]
One of the most important elements for me when I write a song is prayer, especially when the song is about something very sacred. Adoption is, I am sure you would agree.
If I am writing a song for a specific person, I try to put myself in their shoes. I may not know all the details to a story, but as I walk in that person’s footsteps in my mind, I formulate questions like, “How did they feel when they found out they were having a baby?” “How will a new baby change their life?” “Do they feel alone or afraid?” In this case I am writing for someone who has adopted their child out. For those who have been adopted into a family, the questions may vary.