Creativity Exercise #5: Replace A Melody From A Song You Love (And Then Some)

Another idea for creative music writing is to write new melodies overtop of existing songs:

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Find a song that you already know well. It can be popular if you want, but it doesn’t have to be. Remove the vocal track from the chorus.

Jam to it for a while, and sing a new melody over the vocal track yourself. Once you’ve come up with something you like, record the melody so you have it saved.

Now write new music for your vocal/instrumental melody that you just wrote.

At this point, you have a new melody, and new music - all original! Even though you started with something that would have gotten you sued for copyright infringement, you’ve now removed every element that’s associated with the original song; all that’s left is inspiration.

And when you go to write new chords and music, you can really mix it up now. You could take a song written in a major key, and now make it diminished or minor. You can even change the key to E instead of C, or B instead of F#!

Was the original song uptempo? Put a downtempo drum beat on it and now you’ve really changed the feel. Was the original downtempo? Make it uptempo now! How about changing the time signature?

You can mix and match and change and arrange every element here. Was the original a rock track? Why not add some clarinets or steel drums into that chorus? At this point, you might just make the song instrumental and play your new melody with instruments.

Use this as an exercise in practicing your arranging skills too. Are you able to take the things I said above about changing the key and feel, and actually implement it? It should challenging, but the more you get used to manipulating music this way, the better you’ll get at arranging.

The way you manipulate a song, change the:

  • key
  • tempo
  • instrumentation
  • order of the chorus/verse/bridge/other sections
  • effects used

...are all examples of arranging music. Good arrangements make just as big a difference on your song as a catchy melody, or a wicked guitar hook.

Get to it right away ya turkey! Set a timer for 15 minutes or so to come up with a new melody that’s really exciting, and then once your 15 minutes are up, see what you can come up with for new music.

Writing the music underneath is definitely the harder part, because it’s where the most creativity is needed. It sure is cool when you make it work out though!

How did you do? Share any examples of songs or sections you wrote using this creativity exercise below.

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About The Writer

My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

Among my friends, it's a "Muller Classic Move" to eat Mcdonald's at 2am because it's cheap and open 24/7. The joke here is that I'm an idiot. 

I play drums, guitar, piano, and I write & perform music for My Goal Is Telepathy. Take a listen to the latest sound here.