I've been listening to a track, such as this https://soundcloud.com/wave-racer/flight-facilities-stand and it seems to have a very happy vibe about it, to the extent where it's "over happy". But I can't seem to repeat the same sorts of melodies, mine always end up sounding flat, or dark.

What would be the best scale to start with? And what sort of progressions?

Any advice for producing these types of happy melodies would be great thanks.

  • Your question is very much in the opinion space, as different individuals, and different cultures, have differing views on happy or sad tones, keys and chords. That said, Alexander's answer gives excellent guidance on how to approach this.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 10:09
  • I actually saw Wave Racer live, and I think a lot of his sound comes from the synths he uses (Sylenth1 among others) and some complex-ish chord progressions, as he is a pretty solid keyboardist. Most importantly the airiness of the sound he gets from plenty of space between the beats and the notes. A lot of short/stacatto synth stabs. To me it is very light and uplifting because he doesn't let the mixes get too dense. They can be busy at times, but never too heavy if you know what I mean. Hard to describe. He likes arpeggiators too.
    – charlie
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 2:57

4 Answers 4


I would recommend that first of all, you define 'happy', because it means many different things to different people. Here's an exercise I'd use to find out what to do in your own music

Find examples of the mood you're trying to set. Write down as much as you can about the tempo, the instrumentation, possibly the scales and types of chords used(from sheet music or something notating it) and find patterns

write down the attributes of your own music. What attributes does it share with the mood you're trying to set, and where does it differ?

Next, rewrite sections of your melodies to include the attributes missing from the original. You might consider adding one attribute at a time and seeing how the effect changes, or using melodic 'sketches' to try out all the different permutations.

From here, if you've included all the attributes and your music still doesn't have what you're looking for, begin the process again, this time looking for more attributes which your piece is missing, fresh with the knowledge of what you've already considered :)

and above all, write fearlessly ;)

I use the word attributes specifically because you're not trying to copy the music, but a particular element of the music. Focusing on the attributes means you can apply it to your own style without just ripping the original off.

  • That's an excellent approach Alex!
    – Torra
    Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 10:15
  • Thanks, I'd love to hear the results! My email's on my profile if you'd like to get in touch :) Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 10:17

There are two things about this track that stand out -- one of them is easy to copy, the other quite hard.

  1. The whole thing is pitch-shifted up quite a bit, maybe even a whole octave. This gives it a "chipmunk" sound, because the upshift removes a lot of the bass and throws energy into the upper overtones. You can do this to any track you make using DSP in programs like Garageband (I think), Logic (for sure), Live, etc.

  2. The other thing is it has a very complex, twisty, jazzy chord progression with a lot of lines that move up and down by ½ step. This is more subjective, but to my ear it sounds very animated and energetic, because each chord leads strongly into the next, and there are more chords per bar than the average in pop-rock music.



This has the first couple of bars worth of chord progressions for this particular track. It might help you a little.

Good luck.


I go with as Major is happier sounding, where as how minor sounds more sad. That's just my basics, now if I wanted to get into the details, I'd go with minor augmented sounds like from a scary movie, almost. Or a major inverted chord sounds as if it's kind of calming- to me.

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