Music theory tips for making melodies (free stems and MIDI files included)

By no means do you need to know the ins and outs of music theory to be a great music producer.

You can still be an accomplished producer without any music theory background – producers like Dr. Dre and Kanye West have created iconic records where the songs are primarily sample-based.

That said, imagine what you could do if you had just a few elements of music theory at your disposal. If you partner sampling with some techniques that’ll help you come up with your own melodies (beyond just using your ear), you’ll open up endless possibilities for music composition.

In the tutorial video above, I give you a crash course in music theory, exploring some gems that’ll help you in your effort to create new melodies. The main music theory concept I highlight is the pentatonic scale, which is an essential collection of notes for creating memorable tunes in any given key. I also show you a related scale that’ll further expand your thinking and add some extra flavor to your melodies. Finally, I also discuss how to go about adding additional notes outside of these scales, and what specific intervals to consider.

If you’d like to learn from or use some existing melodies and chord progressions, feel free to download this collection of stems and MIDI files that I’ve put together.

Do you have any questions on any of the topics covered in the video? Was a specific section particularly helpful? Let us know in the comments below.

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August 27, 2020

Julie Schatz Julie Schatz is a producer, singer-songwriter, pianist, and violinist who creates beats that merge a wide array of genres.