How to Write Melody for Chorus?
Chorus is the reward of your song. The whole song revolves around the chorus and is the most important part of the song. If all the songs were products, well then chorus is the brand of the song. So to make the brand stand out, you need to follow this article.
Lets see, how to write melody for the chorus?
Awesome melodies for chorus can be written if you follow these tips-
- Make the chorus the peak of your song.
- Use melodic Cadence.
- Use contrasting ideas within the chorus.
- Employ contrasting sections this way.
- Don’t forget our old friend- Repetition!
- Are your verse or pre chorus more memorable?
- The Flip Method.
- Use predictability.
The above steps have been in use constantly by all the professional songwriters and music producers alike.
For writing melody for your chorus, you don’t have to put in exhausting efforts but the process is very simple and very practical.
With a little practice, I can guarantee you that writing melodies for a great chorus will become your second nature.
Infact writing melodies for the whole song will be almost effortless!
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Make Chorus The Peak of Your Song
The chorus is no doubt why your listeners are listening to your song.
Its okay that your song has a story, but its the message that your chorus is trying to say and it matters the most in almost every song at this time.
This is what the listener takes away home.
Now often in almost all the songs today, the chorus contains the highest energy moment.
If you hear a song and try to plot a graph for the energy level of the song, the intro is the lowest energy level, the verse is more than the intro and the pre chorus is even more than the verse and the highest is the chorus section.
Simply put- give your chorus higher notes than the rest of your sections.
Melodically make it the peak of your song.
The chorus being the peak of your song in terms of energy makes it essential that its melody peaks the same way.
In other words, the melody in the chorus should be more energetic and more compelling and display that it calls for attention and that it’s the boss!
You can listen to many hit songs where the verse is sober as compared to their choruses.
The producers and songwriters have known from ages that the chorus that touches the roof is already a hit formula.
You need to make the notes of your chorus stay up in the melodic register.
Or if the melody that you have written or has hit your mind and you fell in love with it is at whatever level, just make the other sections milder and lower than the chorus so that the chorus stays at the peak in your song.
Melodic Cadence for Chorus Melody
Music is essentially the journey of melodic ideas.
These melodic ideas take you at different destinations in different sections. Usually the chorus is the home where your song tend to gravitate to.
Let’s say your song is in C major. Your verse melody contains the notes D E G.
Ummm.. let the last note end on G.
It starts at D and goes till G in the C major key.
This is an upward movement of the verse melody.
Now to return home, the chorus needs to have the melody that makes the melody come back home.
Whatever notes you pick in the C major scale, make the chorus end on the root note C!
This is called melodic cadence.
Also use the root chord which is C major to end the chorus.
This will obviously prepare our home to land the chorus melody on to.
Ending the song on the root note is the best way to conclude the whole song.
The whole song feels resolved when the chorus ends on the root melodic elements.
On the contrary, you can flip this trick to create some different feelings in the song.
If you end your chorus on for example, a dominant chord- G major in this key, then the song will have an unresolved strong tensed feeling which wants to get to the root note.
Well there are many songs that have done this.
Use Contrasting Ideas Within Chorus
Contrast is always interesting.
It excites our senses. It gives depth to whatever its used in.
Employing contrast in the chorus will enhance the interest and will give it depth.
The contrast while writing the chorus can be rhythmic and melodic.
Mind you we are talking about the contrast within the chorus itself.
We take two very different ideas and weave them to enhance the interest within our chorus.
If you listen We Don’t Talk Anymore by Charlie Puth, the chorus is made with two contrasting ideas.
The note length of the line “We Don’t Talk Anymore” is short staccato while the next line “Like We Used To Do” has long notes.
So there you have two distinct ideas in the same chorus.
These ideas can contrast in melodies as well.
The first line can be higher in pitch and the next one can be lower.
Also the notes of two phrases can be exactly mirror opposite of each other.
In this way you can have two contrasting ideas and join them together to create interesting choruses effectively.
Use Contrast for the Chorus Melody
The trick to make your chorus stand out than the rest of your sections includes incorporating contrast in the melodies of these sections.
When the melody of the chorus section have different form of expressions than the verse and other sections the chorus achieves a different identity.
With this trick your chorus can be easily identified from the rest of the song.
Note that now we are looking at contrast in sections.
The trick to make the chorus melody the peak of your song goes hand in hand with this trick.
Whenever you write the chorus section, just look back at your verses.
Have you put short staccato notes in terms of length in your verses?
If yes then try to make the notes of your chorus go longer.
Make them legato.
Long stretched out notes will enhance the epicness in your song’s atmosphere.
Listen to Beat It by Michael Jackson. Just try to hum the melody and don’t sing the lyrics and you’ll know what this means.
If the verse notes are longer, make the chorus notes shorter in length.
This will increase the pace of the song in the chorus.
Or you can even check if your pre chorus has longer notes then chorus is better with staccatos or short ones.
Listen to the pre chorus and the chorus of We Don’t Talk Anymore by Charlie Puth
Repetition in Chorus Melody
Virtually no chorus can become a better chorus without the most used, ubiquitous, timeless and the most essential songwriting trick that is repetition!
Repetition of the melody that you write for the chorus reinforces your song into your listener’s mind.
You need to use the melody atleast twice so that it sticks in the minds of the listener.
Again, when you listen to Beat It, you’ll find that Michael sings the phrase “Beat It” twice every time.
This sticks the phrase even in any first time listener’s mind and he will need not memorize it.
If you do everything like singing the chorus at higher pitch and putting enough contrast in the sections but if the chorus melody is not advertised enough in the song, it loses its impact on the listener’s mind.
There’s no point in doing anything further with your chorus.
It’s not that you only want your chorus to have a melody different than the rest of the sections.
It’s also important that your chorus melody is highly catchy and memorable.
Your chorus should stick in the mind of the listener and that is your most important responsibility as a songwriter or producer.
Writing Chorus Melody When Verse or Pre Chorus are More Memorable
It happens many times that songwriters or producers write a section that is a verse or pre chorus or may be both that sticks out more and gets stuck in the mind.
On the other hand you struggle to recall what the chorus was!
What happened here is that you have given the qualities that are needed for making the chorus memorable to the wrong sections.
Although I should not call it wrong but for the sake of explanation lets accept it.
You must have made the melodies in the verse repetitive.
Just reduce the repetitiveness from it somehow.
Introduce new phrase that are less repetitive.
If you have made the verse high pitched, bring it down.
If you have a better contrasting portion in the verse, trade it with the chorus.
Just try to find what is the thing that is making the verse or the pre chorus stick out and take that away and give it to the chorus.
The Flip Method for Writing Chorus Melody
This might sound surprising or interesting to you but its just an extension of the above tip.
When the situation of the verse or pre chorus being more memorable arises, you have an option to flip the sections altogether.
The idea of doing this might sound intimidating at first because there’s a connection that a songwriter has built with the current structure of the song and so this has germinated like a seed in the producer’s mind.
Flipping the sections is like uprooting this plant.
There’s a fear of spoiling the song by tweaking it.
But believe me, this happens with many producers and songwriters and in many situations and if you pay close attention here, you already have something that is working the way you wanted.
You only need to tweak a little bit and you have a perfect chorus ready!
I have done this many times and I have seen awesome results and saved so much time and frustration in my work!
Use Predictable Chord Progression for Chorus
It’s not always true but yeah we tend to be more happy with familiar faces and people.
And there is a sense of security with predictable people around us.
Our brains are just like that! Can’t do nothing about it!
Since music effects on the subconscious level so it’s more important to take care of that aspect of it as well.
What songwriters focus upon is making the song as unique as possible and predictable or familiar at the same time.
The music that is predictable forms an expectation in the minds of the listeners.
With predictable music, the listener expects a favorite moment which increases his arousal.
When this arousal meets with a surprise, the pleasure enhances much more.
Lets face it- it’s like sex!
If there is a chord progression that sounds predictable, we tend to expect that our favorite moment will come next.
We are aroused and anticipate what we like but when there is a surprise at the end, we find it more pleasurable and the release to this arousal results in dopamine secretion in a more amount.
But there’s a catch to this method.
Establishing balance between predictability and surprise is the only key to a great chorus melody.
Because too much predictability will make the song boring and too much surprise will make the listener feel lost and unfocused.
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All the tricks in this article will serve you to write a very effective chorus section for your song every time.
But you should never be limited to only these tricks.
Every art form is a constant learning endeavor and an artist should be dedicated to learning every available technique and then discover himself.
Discovering your own way is the most important thing if you are an artist!