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I'm aspiring to be a pop music producer. When I create a catchy melody, I then attempted to add a bass line that was also catchy. Unfortunately, they didn't sound well together. And I know if I were to add drums to it, it would start to dissonant. What advice do you have to getting all the pieces(drums, melody, chords, and bass) of my song to sound good together?

closed as too broad by David Bowling, Tim H, Peter, Dom Jul 18 at 17:43

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    Learn a little bit of theory. If you can't hear something that works initially, you can fall back on knowledge of theory as a starting point. – David Bowling Jul 14 at 14:16
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    How does a piece sound more dissonant with drums (as you imply) than without them? Pop music rarely, if ever, has pitched drums. – Dekkadeci Jul 14 at 14:28
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    Hi Ben - maybe you can give us a bit more of a clue as to what techniques you have tried? As it is, we don't know how much you already know and what level to give advice at. – topo morto Jul 14 at 15:37
  • Starting off with a catchy melody is a viable way to write a song, but the next step would be to figure out what key you're in, and preferable also a basic chord progression; that gives you the information you need to add different parts that will work well together. Either learn a minimum of music theory to be able to do this, or find a tool to help you (I assume these exist, there are apps for everything now). – Your Uncle Bob Jul 14 at 15:44
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What advice do you have to getting all the pieces(drums, melody, chords, and bass) of my song to sound good together?

Some of the comments are telling you to learn music theory. That's good general advice. At the very least it will give you the vocabulary to talk to other musicians and read books about music.

My practical advice would be: take a break from try to work on an original song and instead analyze and try to re-record some songs you like. This activity will make you focus on two things:

  • listen intensely to and judge what are the important musical elements of a finished mix.
  • figure out how to effectively use the equipment you have to create a desired sound.

I've tried this exercise myself a few times. I can't make any claims to having producer skills, but the exercise was educational ...and fun.

As far as theory and pop music goes, I think the big take away is to recognize pop is very formulaic in harmony and melody, but more creative with rhythm and arranging. After a while you realize a huge number of songs using super common chord patterns like I V vi IV or I V bVII IV and melodic patterns like pentatonic elaborations of a tonic chord or shifting back and forth a minor third above and below the tonic. Enough theory to recognize/name those patterns is good, but often there isn't any thing new for those elements. The creativity seems to be about rhythm and instrumental tone.

When I create a catchy melody, I then attempted to add a bass line that was also catchy. Unfortunately, they didn't sound well together.

Maybe catchy melody + catchy bass is trying to be too clever? Lots of effective bass lines are simple, not much more than quarter notes. Try out a range of bass ideas from very simple to complex. Instead of aiming for 'catchy' bass, try to make it compliment the melody.

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