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$785
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The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, October 14 2015 1:05 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 14, 2015

The Secrets of Melody: A New Theory

A book about a new theory of melody that will help composers and songwriters write awesome melodies quickly and easily.

The Secrets of Melody: A New Theory

A book about a new theory of melody that will help composers and songwriters write awesome melodies quickly and easily.

$785
pledged of $9,000pledged of $9,000 goal
10
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Wed, October 14 2015 1:05 PM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 14, 2015

About

Why a book on melody?

In my opinion, a book on melody-writing should be so practical and straight-forward that the reader could go on to program a computer to write melodies if he were so inclined. And that’s exactly what I’ve done; I’ve used my theory of melody to program apps that write melodies. (And better programmers could surely create software that goes well beyond what I’ve released.) My theory of melody provides an easy and practical way to analyze, think about, and compose new melodies. It’s so straight-forward and easy to understand that anyone can do it, even if you’ve never written an original melody in your life. (And programmers can program their computers to do the work for them, if they wish!)

There are plenty of books on things like harmony and orchestration, but searching for a book strictly on melody doesn’t yield as many results. And the books on melody that are out there are either outdated, very basic and leave too much up to the “talent” of the reader, or so marred in abstruse theory as to be impractical to the composer who just wants to sit down and write some music.

And yet melody is the most powerful force in music! Melodies are what we whistle on the sidewalks, they’re what get stuck in our heads after a concert, and merely remembering them can evoke shivers of emotion.

Why have melodies been so neglected in the music theory world?

I think it’s because melodies seem so automatic to us. Remembering a melody requires no great effort, and composing a melody can come so naturally to a composer that he needs not question the process. The secrets of melody are so subtle we hardly even notice them.

This, of course, can sometimes become the bane of a composer or songwriter. We may sit at the keyboard to write something new, but we draw a blank, resort to plunking random notes, or end up regurgitating something we’ve heard before.

In the 1984 film Amadeus, there’s a scene in which Salieri sits before his keyboard praying to God for musical inspiration. “Enter me now!” he begs. “Fill me with one piece of true music. One piece with your breath in it, so I know that you love me.”

Poor Salieri.

But we don’t really need to sit around waiting for divine inspiration; we just need a practical approach to writing melodies.

Writing a beautiful melody is not some mystical talent you need to be born with. It’s a skill. Like any skill, it can be learned. And, with the theory of melody described in this book, I think you’d be surprised how ridiculously easy it can actually be.

Here are a few examples of some melodies composed with the theory...

The Android™ app I programmed utilizing the theory can be found on the Google Play store

An online PHP version of the melody generator can be found at MelodyGenerator.com

What's in the book?

The book is still in progress, but I estimate it will be about 300 pages in length. It will be full of examples as well as suggested exercises to help get you get started. (An accompanying website will allow you to hear all the examples.)

Similar to Gradus ad Parnassus, Johann Joseph Fux’s classic book on counterpoint, the theory is introduced through dialog between mentor and pupil characters. The book will reveal the basics of the theory, then explore applications of the theory through various examples and styles, from the classical melodies of Mozart, to simple but catchy folk songs, to modern day pop songs and themes from film scores and Broadway tunes. (I know I could possibly argue fair use, but to avoid copyright issues, the book won’t feature any example melodies that are protected by copyright. Obtaining permission from various music publishers would take too long at this point, and may cost too much anyway. But the book can still review what analysis of these melodies reveal.) (The book will focus only on traditional tonal melodies. Atonal and twelve-tone considerations, for example, are beyond the scope of this book.)

For better or for worse, the book will assume a grasp of the basics of music theory (how to read music, what chords are, etc.) After all, there are already plenty of books and websites dedicated to teaching these basics. (More specialized knowledge, such as how to avoid parallel fifths when resolving a German augmented sixth chord, will of course not be necessary.)

Why funding?

It’s mostly a matter of time. If this campaign succeeds, I’ll be able to work on finishing the book full time so that I can release it in March 2016! Funds will also go to a cover artist, and of course fulfilling the rewards. (If this campaign fails, my book on melody will still be written and released eventually, but it will take that much longer. Probably at least another year.) My estimates look like this:

  • $5,500 - allows me to work on the book full-time from October 2015 to its release in mid-March 2016
  • $500 - cover art / layout
  • $2,100 - rewards fulfillment
  • $900 - Kickstarter / Amazon payment fees

I’ve been working on my theory of melody on and off for several years now, and in all honestly I could continue working on it for years to come; melody is a broad subject and there’s a lot to explore. Like music theory itself, my theory will never be “complete.” But I think I have gathered plenty of insights to share, and sharing them will only allow other composers and songwriters (and even programmers) to continue exploring this fascinating subject with me.

Thank you for reading and for any help you can provide!

Rewards

In addition to offering a ebook, a paperback, and a limited-edition hardback copy of the book at different reward levels, I can also offer autographed copies of my two albums of orchestral music, the full-length album Voyage of the Dream Maker, and the EP album A Dream Half Lost. (You can hear them on my bandcamp page.)

Risks and challenges

Save for some unpredictable tragedy, I should have no problem in finishing the book by March 2016. The only potential risks I can foresee are delays in book printing and/or shipping, as we'll have to depend on 3rd parties to provide these services, but even this seems unlikely. This is a pretty low-risk project!

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Funding period

- (21 days)