I'm pressing some keys on the piano but I can't seem to get any ideas for creating a simple melody? Can anyone offer any suggestions?
- Copy a melody you like written by someone else and then transform it by playing the notes in a different order, with different timing, and/or leave out or add notes.
- Improvise or "noodle" around on an instrument and record it. Listen back for seredipitous moments and expand on those.
- Come up with a chord progression first and then play around with different notes that either go with or clash with that chord progression.
- Listen for sounds happening around you - nature sounds, construction, the refrigerator or kettle - and find a way to represent them musically. Expand on that.
- Copy or come up with a rhythm and play it on a single note. Change one of the notes in the rhythm while you're repeating it. Then change another. See where it takes you.
- Invent your own simple "exercise" like patterns that make sense on your instrument and listen for melodic ideas that may be hidden inside there.
In general, we are always hearing melodies. Some may be mostly a single note, others may be a complicated bird song. A major part of artistic expression is taking in the world around us and then expressing our individual take on what we have experienced back out. Think about being a musical mirror of the world and try to show it what it sounds like to you. You'll naturally express yourself no matter how hard you try not to.
My advice would be to restrict yourself:
- Chose only five notes for the right hand for example
C D E F G
choose two chords for the left hand Cmaj
C E G* and Gmaj
B D G**
then make up a simple chord progression with those two chords, for example:
choose a pattern to play as accompaniment for the left hand. Maybe an Alberti Bass¹ or just play a chord once for each bar. (If you get this fluent you got a perfect foundation in creating your melody over it)
begin playing your melody with simple fourth notes, once you got something you might wand to add some eight notes...
extend the chord progression:
Here is a small score example taken from Carl Czerny Op. 599: (please note that the snippet is really squashed down to illustrate the techniques I was talking about.)
you find plenty of those examples in classical piano repertoire for very early beginners, to only list a view have a look at:
- Carl Czerny, Op 599, Op 823, Op 777 (and many more)
- Ferdinand Beyer, Op. 101
- Cornelius Gurlitt, Op. 210
- Hermann Berens, Op. 70
Probably a different answer than you were seeking, but:
Back when I was an undergraduate struggling with writer's block in a composition course, my professor told me to just write out random pitches. You might hate most of this random string of pitches, but there might be two or three pitches in there you really like. Then carve out a melody that uses those pitches you like.
My professor intended for me to do this in a twelve-tone context (by writing a complete twelve-tone row), but you could easily do it in a diatonic or pentatonic context, or even a very strict
C D E F G context.