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How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?

Author Topic: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?  (Read 22028 times)

Offline AdamKhan

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How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« on: November 10, 2012, 04:42:51 AM »
Hey Every1

How Do You Think Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies....Do you think they hum the melody then begin creating the instrumental around the melody? or possible guitar/piano. Would love to learn about this process as i want to make my melodies sound stronger, catch etc

Thanks Yall


Offline Joshua

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2012, 06:33:09 AM »
There is definitely a formula of sorts I'm sure of it, because so many of the Cheiron guys can pull it off time and time again. All I know is that Max comes up with the melody first, before chords etc. He apparently carries around a dictaphone and records any ideas as soon as they come to him, so he said years ago anyway. I can't remember exactly, but I seem to think someone said he would come up with hundreds of ideas in a short amount of time (like say a week or so), so maybe the key is to just write like crazy until you come up with the goods. I know with my own writing, I can be a bit over critical sometimes and compare everything to someone like Max's work. But that's the best way for me to come up with work I'm happy with. Only problem is, sometimes it can take months of frustration and starting over. If there is a formula behind writing a hit on the spot, then I want to know about it too! :D

Offline georg_e

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2012, 05:15:46 PM »

     This is a very interesting topic to me, because to I used to write songs from chords first (piano) , until I realized I wasn't concentrating enough on the melody itself.  I changed my whole process when I started analyzing melodies of  early Max/Luke songs technically, and discovered that there are certain melody intervals they used over and over. It's no accident-- they work. Then I found that those same intervals are used in zillions of pop songs going way back.....there's certain of them that just work-- they make the strongest impact on listeners.  If you take say 10 melodies you love of hit songs and analyze them (just melodies alone) you'll start to make these connections, and then you can use them yourself-- without thinking about it too much. And if you notice, those guys use very common chord progressions for the most part-- it's the melody that makes the songs so great.  Most recent example of this is where Ke$ha is whistling just the melody of "Die Young" on the subway. You can tell it'll be great song from the melody alone :-)

       

Offline AdamKhan

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2012, 07:30:02 PM »
Thanks Joshua + George.

Awesome info.

@ Joshua
I think its great that you are comparing your works with the great Max. I submitted to a professional songwriter once and the first thing she noticed was the melody and absolutely loved it. She said it could become a smash but re-work the drum arrangement. But what i find difficulty is creating melody, i suppose good melodies just happen without me making the effort of creating a great melody. Savan Kotecha says you should always A - B your tracks/songs with stuff on the charts. The songwriter i submitted to also said the same thing.

Heres a video of Savan saying compare stuff : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM4GYL8WNeM

@ George

Im actually gonna spend some time analyzing melodies created by Max/Luke now. I also start on chords first but now i shall focus on meldy first.

Offline Joshua

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2012, 01:43:13 PM »
I used to write songs from chords first (piano)

I write at the piano too and have always written chords first, I still do really, though like you guys I'm trying to focus on melody first as much as I can now. I tend to just play around with chords I like, and sing nonsense until something good comes of it. George, that's great that you're picking up connections in melodies, I do exactly the same with chord progressions, almost subconsciously. But strangely I've never even considered looking for common melodies, I need to start doing that. I know not everyone would agree, but to me the best songs have the combination of amazing melody and chords, and so often I hear one without the other and it never really works for me. Max never lets me down in either department.

Adam, thanks for the link, what an awesome video... I'm gonna watch the rest of his series. I didn't even know he had a YouTube channel! It's so true though, if you're not up to par with what's out there commercially, there's not much point. Same goes for production too obviously, listening and imitating is so important.

Great topic! :)

Offline growapear

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2012, 12:06:23 AM »
The Million Dollar Question, right?!

You can definitely find traits and go-to techniques that they (and the RX Songs guys) go for when trying to make a hook.  At the moment, for song verses they seem to like going for a repeated phrase at the end of each line (Taylor Swift's 'I Knew You Were Trouble', the new Ke$ha track 'C'Mon' - how many awesome people involved in that one, by the way).

I agree that the top line melody is the most important thing - if it wasn't there wouldn't be so many hits that still sound new and interesting despite having the same basic chord structure. As I believe Dr. Luke has said, though, if you wanna test yourself you make a song with a regular, done-1000-times chord structure because it demands something "stellar" to go over the top of it. If you can though, I guess it can't hurt if you try and come up with a great-sounding instrumental in the first place. However, then you don't wanna be *too* original or left-field though - it is a mass appeal music industry we're talking about here... man, lots of things to consider! ;)

Offline Joshua

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2012, 11:52:35 AM »
Hey growapear, some awesome points you've made there, really spot on! Yeah it's surely impossible to have a catchy chord progression nowadays that isn't unoriginal, but I do like Luke's challenge of starting with something obvious and then focusing on a killer melody. I struggle to work on a melody without over thinking the chords at the same time, I'm just so used to focusing on them. They're the first thing I listen to in any new song I hear. So when writing I usually feel like I'm giving both melody and chords only 50% because I'm playing around until both work well together. Argh! I guess my best bet is to come up with the best melody I can, then focus on whatever good chord progression works best, seeings as though I feel confident enough in that area.

Offline LG

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2012, 09:55:32 PM »
It's the melody - lyrics left alone. Which is adapted to the chord progression if needed. You instantly notice how good the tones (chords/melody) fit together when you play any of these tracks on a piano. They all (mostly) sound very open. This by the way is also a reason why their tracks can sound so full. Not talking engineer-wise here but if you compose properly everything you add simply adds something in a harmonical way without eating up space from another tones region.

@georg_e
I would like to hear more what intervalls you are talking about? I can see some common stuff but Max uses so many different stuff.

Let's share some more information about this!! Because this is what makes you stand out. There are a lot of track makers out there but the one who can topline hits is golden! If you work in a team everyone has his strength it maybe works out being a ok-topliner but if you're not then topline writing is especially important.

Offline georg_e

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2012, 12:19:08 AM »

                                    ^    ^    ^

           LG........The intervals.......it's like a secret code, haha :-)    No, seriously though I'll say this, and then you can discover them for yourself:  Analyze just the melodies alone of the following songs and you'll have most of them...listen for the key parts, and then think of how many other songs by these guys (Max/Luke) use them. Reason I'm using these songs is because those are the ones where I made the connections......

                    1) Since U Been Gone   2)  Everything I'm Not (Veronicas)  3) Behind These Hazel Eyes  4)  Better Than I Know Myself (Adam Lambert)  5) C'mon (new Ke$ha song)   6) Last Friday Night (Katy Perry)  7) Til The World Ends (Britney)

         Some of these songs share the same intervals, others just illustrate one in particular......

                   
             
                           

Offline growapear

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2012, 03:30:56 PM »
Hey growapear, some awesome points you've made there, really spot on! Yeah it's surely impossible to have a catchy chord progression nowadays that isn't unoriginal, but I do like Luke's challenge of starting with something obvious and then focusing on a killer melody. I struggle to work on a melody without over thinking the chords at the same time, I'm just so used to focusing on them. They're the first thing I listen to in any new song I hear. So when writing I usually feel like I'm giving both melody and chords only 50% because I'm playing around until both work well together. Argh! I guess my best bet is to come up with the best melody I can, then focus on whatever good chord progression works best, seeings as though I feel confident enough in that area.

Glad you found my points interesting! :)

When I'm having a good creative day, chords and a melody can just hit me even without an instrument in hand. I think that's how I deal with using basic chords; by creating a melody simultaneously so that I don't just begin with a basic chord structure and ditch it because it sounds boring. I would say that's almost crucial, in fact, because I could never see myself open up a recording, recording/ playing in an overused chord progression and think that I have the basis for a new song.

Offline LG

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2012, 10:24:40 PM »

                                    ^    ^    ^

           LG........The intervals.......it's like a secret code, haha :-)    No, seriously though I'll say this, and then you can discover them for yourself:  Analyze just the melodies alone of the following songs and you'll have most of them...listen for the key parts, and then think of how many other songs by these guys (Max/Luke) use them. Reason I'm using these songs is because those are the ones where I made the connections......

                    1) Since U Been Gone   2)  Everything I'm Not (Veronicas)  3) Behind These Hazel Eyes  4)  Better Than I Know Myself (Adam Lambert)  5) C'mon (new Ke$ha song)   6) Last Friday Night (Katy Perry)  7) Til The World Ends (Britney)

         Some of these songs share the same intervals, others just illustrate one in particular......

                   
             
                           

Haha... secret code. But just some days ago I heard a swedish writer saying it once again. There are many formulas like i.e. production-wise: everytime a new part of the song enters add something interesting and tweak it a little bit. So I was not really talking about 'the secret intervalls' hahaha but
more of the combination of the melody/chords. Take a look at the bass note and the melody. Look what happens at the start of a chorus and the end ;)

Offline Joshua

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 01:44:43 PM »
Loving the discussion here, it's really making me rethink a few things. The writing process for me is a bit of a hit and miss type of thing. It's like many writers say, a good song can appear at any random time and they wont know where it came from. Almost like it already existed and you just happened to stumble across it in all your fooling around. But to sit down with a formula to start off with, what a great head start. I'm guessing there'd still be a good amount of experimenting and throwing ideas around, but it's got to be better than waiting days, weeks, months (hopefully not years) at a time to get started on something half decent.

EDIT: I just wanted to add that with all this talk about the degree of importance of chords vs melody... here's a good example to me of a strong chorus that would be nothing without it's killer chord progression. So I think it can work both ways. Obviously though, having a strong melody with a strong progression under it, you can't go wrong.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elueA2rofoo
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 01:50:51 PM by Joshua »

Offline Neal

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2012, 01:00:35 AM »
I actually find it really easy to come up with great catchy melodies , can do a new one in like 5-10 minutes ( the hook) if i really wanted too.

hear for yourself:

http://www.wavescapestudios.co.uk/audio.htm

I don't mean to brag but I'm not exactly winning a grammy for it !

All the chart stuff is actually way too SIMPLE for me that's why I like to have just original, great ideas rather than boring , uninspired stuff ! Ultimately when you just have fun and get into the process unihibited  is where you make the best stuff in my opinion. Just do it your way and be a pioneer , experimenting is definitely the way to go cos you never know what idea leads to something cool ! But analyzing other songs too much may just make you really good at being an emulator rather than an innovator. There's nothing wrong with being an emulator in fact I think the industry prefers  writers/producers who can just deliver some updated version of an already done thing , so there's creating for the industry and creating for the music !

I would have envied Cheiron when they were producing for the likes of NSync and BSB cos those songs are truly great and inspiring but now I really think they are wasting their talent IMHO because they are having to water down their ability so it is " commercially " viable in today's Pop market. All the money in the world would never make me feel better about that just from a pure musicianship point of view !!

The access to immense equipment such as synths, mixers , samplers , a host of plugins and everything else under the sun , technologically more advanced should equate to sonically much higher level music but in fact I find music from before sonically more superior and more innovative in the way they created , used and applied sounds ! Sometimes I can hear the computer cheapness cos it sounds like not many HARDWARE synths are being used !!   

I bet Max used to spend weeks on a song , getting it perfect in the 90s and he probably only spends a matter of days now and unfortunately for me that's very hearable. Shame , such a talented musician wasting his skill on SIMPLE stuff !! Don't mean to offend anyone but I don't get paid to agree with everyone's opinion either.

In a way I'm glad i'm not in the industry because I am FREE to let my ideas flow without rules and obligations and A&R individuals getting involved who happen to be NON-MUSICIANS half the time having such a strong influence on the music. I am also FREE to work with lots of unsigned artists and not stuck with only the artists that get pushed my way through X factor or some pop star show. Then if I said I don't feel inspired by this artist the label would think twice about sending me another and you could worry about not getting paid the next time. Politics of course , always politics. But when you are not worrying about really being paid you don't care so I could simply say no and move on to artists that I really care about and feel the energy with to do something great ! In a way I feel some pity for them because maybe they are trapped in that situation and can't walk out so easily because they have " big " names and are accountable to more people than themselves.

Funny how a different perspective changes everything  ;)



Offline LG

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2012, 09:00:13 PM »
I actually find it really easy to come up with great catchy melodies , can do a new one in like 5-10 minutes ( the hook) if i really wanted too.

hear for yourself:

http://www.wavescapestudios.co.uk/audio.htm

I don't mean to brag but I'm not exactly winning a grammy for it !

All the chart stuff is actually way too SIMPLE for me that's why I like to have just original, great ideas rather than boring , uninspired stuff ! Ultimately when you just have fun and get into the process unihibited  is where you make the best stuff in my opinion. Just do it your way and be a pioneer , experimenting is definitely the way to go cos you never know what idea leads to something cool ! But analyzing other songs too much may just make you really good at being an emulator rather than an innovator. There's nothing wrong with being an emulator in fact I think the industry prefers  writers/producers who can just deliver some updated version of an already done thing , so there's creating for the industry and creating for the music !

I would have envied Cheiron when they were producing for the likes of NSync and BSB cos those songs are truly great and inspiring but now I really think they are wasting their talent IMHO because they are having to water down their ability so it is " commercially " viable in today's Pop market. All the money in the world would never make me feel better about that just from a pure musicianship point of view !!

The access to immense equipment such as synths, mixers , samplers , a host of plugins and everything else under the sun , technologically more advanced should equate to sonically much higher level music but in fact I find music from before sonically more superior and more innovative in the way they created , used and applied sounds ! Sometimes I can hear the computer cheapness cos it sounds like not many HARDWARE synths are being used !!   

I bet Max used to spend weeks on a song , getting it perfect in the 90s and he probably only spends a matter of days now and unfortunately for me that's very hearable. Shame , such a talented musician wasting his skill on SIMPLE stuff !! Don't mean to offend anyone but I don't get paid to agree with everyone's opinion either.

In a way I'm glad i'm not in the industry because I am FREE to let my ideas flow without rules and obligations and A&R individuals getting involved who happen to be NON-MUSICIANS half the time having such a strong influence on the music. I am also FREE to work with lots of unsigned artists and not stuck with only the artists that get pushed my way through X factor or some pop star show. Then if I said I don't feel inspired by this artist the label would think twice about sending me another and you could worry about not getting paid the next time. Politics of course , always politics. But when you are not worrying about really being paid you don't care so I could simply say no and move on to artists that I really care about and feel the energy with to do something great ! In a way I feel some pity for them because maybe they are trapped in that situation and can't walk out so easily because they have " big " names and are accountable to more people than themselves.

Funny how a different perspective changes everything  ;)

Everything I'm saying is not meant to bash anybody or similiar. Simply talking from a professional point of view.

I listened 15 secs to your first two tracks and have too say we're talking completely different levels here. I switched after 15 secs because the melody didn't grab my attention and the sound wasn't that catchy.

The reason why someone is not in the music game is simply this one....:
...because you didn't put out some freaking awesome and super catchy music. Do you really think if someone releases super stunning tracks which get airplay and are shared with todays technology and social media possibilities will not be successful if he tries to get in there?

I've seen any part of the music industry and can say that if you have a hit then no one can mess with it. It's that simple.


I agree with you that people spent more time on mixing in the 90s then now but the point that they are trapped in that situation i is simply unlogical. For example Max worked on albums sold over 300 millions times. Add it up and you see, he wouldn't have to do a thing for hundreds of years.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2012, 09:03:44 PM by LG »

Offline Joshua

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Re: How Do Max And Shellback Create Memorable Melodies?
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2012, 08:08:57 AM »
Yeah, I had a listen too but didn't want to comment in case my comments came across a bit negative. But if I can put it all under the banner of constructive criticism then hopefully Neal wont take any offence, because I certainly don't mean any. :) The handful of tracks I listened to were all so similar that they could have been blurred into one long song. The chord progressions were nearly all identical, the melodies were usually very alike and overall the production was pretty much all the same. It sounded dated and sorry to say, fairly amateur. Again, I'm only saying this to be constructive, and I'd expect the same honest judgement of my own work. You can lose perspective of your songs because you're so close to them. I listen back to some of my old stuff and wonder how at the time I believed it was so good.

I think a lot of aspiring pop producers are making the mistake of assuming that a great pop track can be thrown together with a few good ingredients and not a lot of effort. But it usually always results in songs that evoke no emotion whatsoever, they feel flat and uninspired. You have to be so self critical that you don't stop until your track is up there with the best. Maybe the problem is being able to judge when it's "up there". But it has to be special, it has to have that something that grabs you. I do believe you can fluke a hit, but to keep generating them over the years takes hard, hard work.

I also agree that the older Cheiron work stood out from the crowd more so than what some of the team are putting out today. But sometimes I wonder how much of that comes down to my own nostalgia. I'm honestly not sure. But I certainly appreciate the writing of the earlier work more than I do a lot of the new stuff.