How to Play Melody - 60 Day Transformation (3 LEVELS)

The first thing to realize about making a 60 day melody transformation occur in your playing is that in creating any strong melody line there are always three main areas of melodic development. Learn how to enhance these areas and your playing will improve dramatically...

Today I want to talk about a transformation you can make to perform better melody lines. I did this when I was learning to write melodies, and I know this works.

So, I’d like you to try and do this over the next 60 days. The whole focus is melody learning so that you stop feeling like you’re stuck with scales, (and to get better at performing more melodic ideas).

If you do this, you’ll start to feel very free with scales and also how you’re able to play melodic lines using them.


The first area of focus has to do with learning more about unique rhythm patterns that work to create a smooth flowing feel. The second area is the use of melodic repetition. 

This is extremely important because it is next to impossible to find a strong melody that does not use melodic repetition in some way.

The third area of development is chord tone association. Linking chord tones to the start and end sections of a melody line will work well to provide a powerful connection to the underlying chord changes.

The biggest difference that you can provide yourself with in doing this 60 day melody transformation isn’t the amount of time that you put in, but rather it is about targeting the musical tonalities that you are weak at.

By getting yourself focused on tonalities (major or minor), that you cannot play over, your transformation will be a lot more drastic than it would be if you only played the tonalities that you are good at.

In order to do this in 60 days, you’re going to need to increase your musical exposure to more melody lines than you have ever been used to. And, this will have a lot to do with learning more scale lines in the tonality that you’re weak at.

Tonality is what is most important here – learning melodies in your weakest tonality.

Melodies that connect nicely into all the chords are not only beautiful, but they have a strength that sets them apart. For helping you to get started into this, I’m going to play you an example melody right now.


Now that you have a good idea of how this example melody sounds, the next thing I’d like to do, is break down everything from that melody in order to help you understand how to start learning each part.

Most importantly, you’ll want to spend some time and explore why a melody works and why it comes across as sounding melodic.

Then, you’ll want to get familiar with what creates a strong melody and how to use that information to make melodies of your own. This is crucial because the more you study these traits, the more similarities you will begin to notice.

After spending time on this area, you’ll want to do this at least 3 or 4 days every week to train yourself on how to use notes and phrases that create a strong connection to the backing chord harmony.

Once you get enough practice time doing this, you’ll start to find that making up melody lines from scratch will not only become easier, but your melodies will come together faster.

Let’s get started learning the example melody and also begin getting an understanding for how all of these ideas can function together.


Part One:
Take notice of how the first section of the melody misses out on the down-beats of "beat 1" in each measure. There are also important chord tones that are being focused on. 

Pay attention to them. Write out the chord tones of each chord, ("A Minor" = "A, C, E"), and pay attention to what notes the melody line will target, ("G Major" = "G, B, D").

Part Two:
In the second phrase of our melody, notice how the repetition begins. Notice the similar melodic phrase starting the line. The rhythm is also duplicated through the part. 

However, a slight change to the rhythmic phrasing occurs over the "G Major" chord. The alteration to the line produces a slight syncopation.

Part Three:
In the third phase of the melody we find that once again the initial starting line is identical to the way the previous phrase was performed over the "A Minor" chord. 

This establishes consistency and helps in making the listener more captivated by the part. A lot of what makes a melody strong is how it can captivate attention.

In the second segment however, there is a chord change coming after the "G Major" that pulls the listener along into an "F Major" chord. 

This change is part of the resolution that will complete the melody and prepare the listener for a loop through the part once again.

Part Four:
Melodic ideas that successfully wrap up a musical line into a tidy ending package are generally well appreciated by the listener. This has a lot to do with blending recurring rhythmic simplicity and melodic form so that they eventually come together and smoothly complete a phrase. 

The appearance of the "F Major" chord pulls the phrasing back to the "G Major" and a sense of resolution completes the melody with style.

Building the connection between what you "know" with regard to scale patterns on the neck and what you can "do" with those patterns physically, (in other words how effective your skills are for guitar technique), will involve placing a high degree of focus upon what it is that you’re weak at, and improving that.

Again, if you feel like you can play melodies better that operate within major keys, then work more on the minor keys, (and vice versa if you’re skills are the opposite).

Once you have the basic major and minor tonalities well developed, start working on modes. Then, continue to branch out into more complex melodic ideas such as the melody lines found in jazz.

While you’re doing all of this, keep in mind how valuable it is to always – continuously learn any melodic idea that come across as sounding interesting to you.

If you hear something that sounds cool, then spend the time to learn it and teach yourself "why" it sounded cool.



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