Hip Hop & Beat Making
Course 17: Melody

Melody helps songs to stand out, and that’s especially true with hip hop. A clever combination of beats and words is powerful, but the melody can add the extra layer needed for the track to really stick in listeners’ minds. So it’s important for you to pay special attention to what kind of melodies you’re creating – a great one will take your tracks from good to unforgettable.

A melody is a single-line progression of notes that the listener perceives as a singular part. In other words, in thinking about your song, the listener will likely hum that part of it. The melody is memorable and as such, it should be simple. In a song’s arrangement, the melody is in the foreground. The accompaniment, whether it’s a solo piano or a huge, texture-filled orchestral arrangement, is in the background.

When there’s a melody present, it’s important to make sure that it’s not being covered up by your background. You’ll get into what makes a good melody including sing-ability, tessitura, the presence of a “money note,” the hook as melody, the background as melody, and more. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to define melody as part of music production, use MIDI editing tools along with your DAW, and create simple melodies.

The digital field trip brings you to one of the most influential elements in hip hop history: the 808 kick drum. Visit Roland and learn more about this piece of equipment, how it’s used, and its derivatives. In the Listening Library, you’ll study the production values of The Lost Tapes by Nas and how they differ from other artists. On the marketing side of things, you’ll investigate the social media of a favorite artist and see how they manage each platform.