8 free plugins for making better melodies (instruments and effects)

More often than not, your melodies will be what the average listener latches on to.

For that reason, it’s important to make sure your melodies stand out and meaningfully contribute to the greater emotional effect you’re looking to achieve with your music. In this tutorial video, we showcase tips and techniques for making effective melodies, sticking entirely to free instruments and effects plugins to demonstrate. Follow along above and find links to download the free plugins below, along with the project files and samples we used to create our demo tracks.

Free plugins for making better melodies:

1. Love-Fi 2 Lite by Quiet Music

Love-Fi 2 Lite is a keys instrument from Quiet Music that’s particularly great for creating ambient, chillhop, and lo-fi music. In our tutorial, we use it in combination with an intentional focus on a few scale degrees to create a melody that’s simple but highly memorable.

Go to 0:30 in the video to learn more about Love-fi 2 Lite.

2. Mel-Lofi by Audiolatry

Mel-Lofi is a mellotron emulation that comes with a range of great presets. In our tutorial, we use this free plugin to learn how to use voice leading to compose a melody out of a chord progression.

Go to 2:47 in the video to learn more about Mel-Lofi.

3. Kilohearts Essentials by Kilohearts

Kilohearts Essentials is a versatile collection of 30 free effects plugins. In our tutorial, we make use of a plugin within the bundle to sculpt the timbre of our melody.

Go to 3:51 in the video to learn more about Kilohearts Essentials.

4. Amurg Lite by Audiolatry

Another entry from Audiolatry, Amurg Lite contains a collection of mellow and ambient pad sounds. In our tutorial, we use the free instrument to add some subtle textures that support our melody.

Go to 4:20 in the video to learn more about Amurg Lite.

5. BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover by Spitfire Audio

It’s hard to believe that BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is free—this collection from Spitfire Audio contains 33 high-quality instrument emulations, spanning strings and woodwinds to brass and percussion. In our tutorial, we use it to add melodies in unexpected areas of our arrangement.

Go to 4:52 in the video to learn more about BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover.

6. Vital by Vital Audio

Vital is a wavetable synth with powerful sound design capabilities, with a basic version that you can download for absolutely free. In our tutorial, we use it to design some melodic textures that complement our drums.

Go to 6:22 in the video to learn more about Vital.

7. Bongo Cat Band by Audio Fusion Bureau

Bongo Cat Band contains a suite of instruments performed by the one-and-only Bongo Cat. While the sounds themselves are quite simple, in our tutorial we show how we can use creative processing to make some unique melodies with them.

Go to 6:55 in the video to learn more about Bongo Cat Band.

8. Emergence by Daniel Gergely

Last but not least, Emergence is a granular processing plugin that allows for some dramatic audio effects. With it, we glitch out some melodies to create some otherworldly sounds.

Go to 7:42 in the video to learn more about Emergence.

Bonus content:

Click here for a .zip file containing the DAW project files for each of the demos for the video, and click here for a Collection containing some of the samples used.

What were your favorite free plugins or composition techniques from the video? What sorts of topics would you like to see us cover next? Let us know in the comments section of the video.

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July 30, 2022

Harrison Shimazu

Harrison Shimazu is a composer, content strategist, and writer who’s passionate about democratizing music creation and education. He leads the Splice blog and produces vocaloid music as Namaboku.