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I've "composed" a melody on a keyboard which sounds nice when I play it.

Later I incidentally also wrote lyrics which I am able to "sing" to the melody.

Due to my lack of understanding I am unsure what the keyboard should now be playing. The voice is already singing the notes of the melody, repeating them on keyboard somehow seems wrong.

I suppose this is a common scenario, but I cannot wrap my head around that. The keyboard playing the melody sounds great, the voice singing the melody sounds great, but together they don't work. It's like having two lead singers competing.

What are my alternatives? I need to write the harmony for the keyboard?

I tried to learn from songs I know (and like) but I never stumbled upon a keyboard repeating the melody. Some songs either plays something very complex (but still accompanying the melody well) or they fall back to some sort of drum pattern or a beat.

I also tried thinning the melody down for the keyboard but leaving notes out and playing only accent notes yields in basically a beat pattern.

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Repeating the cantus firmus (c.f.) would not have been wrong at all, and it is done a lot. However, there are other options of course:

  1. You just play the harmony, i.e., the keyboard plays moreorless only large choords in some proper way, by both hands.

  2. The right hand plays another melody that you think out. There are several possibilities: You can play a descant, i.e., something that covers the c.f. from above. You can play the alto part, i.e., something that helps support the melody's harmony. It can be a completely unrelated melody that just shares the harmony with the c.f., this way you can create a nice polyphony. You can play long notes when the c.f. is complicated and "fill in the gaps" when the c.f. is simple or is resting.

  3. You can even stop playing at all for large parts of the melody, or combine the methods above. For instance: you play only nice and fancy choords for the verses and you play the c.f. in forte for the refrain. Or whatever you wish.

As for the left hand: I most often just play the bass + some parts of the choords. At some places, it's nice to play a piece of some melody in the lower notes as well, it adds some spices to the masterpiece :)

The options are endless. The best thing to do is to try various things, record them, listen to them and use your judgement to see which ones do you like.

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