How to Write a Catchy Melody • Music Theory from Glass Animals "Creatures in Heaven" 


How to Write a Catchy Melody.



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British band Glass Animals are absolutely massive! At the time of writing this, they’re ranked #257 in the world on Spotify. Most artists as famous as them have achieved their success as a result of an obsessive striving for celebrity. However, Glass Animals seem to be obsessed with making catchy music instead. And not only that, their music is surprisingly creative for a band as successful as them.


If you’ve been doing our Hack Music Theory tutorials for a few years, you’ll know that we don’t usually cover “celebrity artists”. The reason for that is because (nowadays) there’s an inverse correlation between the success of an artist and the creativity of their music. For an artist to achieve a fanbase of tens of millions, their music needs to appeal to the masses. And most people (nowadays) want “sugary” ear-candy music that’s pleasantly predictable, i.e. boring, bland background music.


So why are we doing a tutorial on such a huge band? Well, Glass Animals’ new single “Creatures in Heaven” is a masterclass in catchy melody writing. The lead melody in their chorus has a whole bunch of creative hacks, as well as a very clever twist in its tale. So, inspired by “Creatures in Heaven”, here’s our 6-step method for writing a great melody that’s catchy enough for the masses. But first… Tea!




Step 1. The Chords


Open your DAW, leave the time signature on 4|4, but change your tempo to 80 BPM. Next, create a four-bar loop on your melody track, with a 1/16 grid. Okay so you may be wondering why the first step in a melody tutorial is… the chords?!


Well, all great melodies are written over chords, or implied chords (chords are “implied” when they’re not played separately but their notes are incorporated into the melody instead). The reason it’s best to write a melody over chords is because it gives the melody a harmonic progression. Without this progression, the melody will sound mind-numbingly boring, as it won’t go anywhere harmonically. The difference is night and day. It’s like walking through a beautiful forest along the ocean compared to walking on a treadmill in a stinky gym. There’s no comparison!


So let’s get our chord progression written, that way we’ve set ourselves up to write a great melody. Glass Animals are in the key of D major for their chorus (so we’ll use it too), and they use four chords in their progression (so we’ll do that too).


D Major (notes)
















D Major (chords)*
















*If you need help working out the chords in a key, read Hack 10 in our Free Book.



As you probably know (or as you’ll hear if you play it), the diminished chord is crazy dissonant. It’s safe to say that using C♯dim ain’t gonna appeal to the masses, so take that off your menu. But other than that, you can use whatever you want.


Glass Animals use all three major chords, and only one minor. Playing three major chords in a major key gives their chorus a wonderfully uplifting vibe. So, think about your balance between major (happy) and minor (sad) chords. Also, think about the order of your chords. Glass Animals play the root chord (Dmaj) second. This detracts attention from it and creates a more fluid atmosphere. We played Dmaj last, though, which creates a more final ending. You can play Dmaj wherever you want, but consider where you want to draw people to the “home” chord. Here’s our progression: Gmaj → Bm → Amaj → Dmaj


Once you’ve chosen your four chords, draw in the root note of each chord for a full bar (in a low octave). These roots will provide harmonic reference for your melody, which you’re gonna write above. This way you’ll be able to hear the relationship between each note in your melody and its accompanying chord. When you’ve finished writing your melody, mute these low roots. Then, create another track specifically for your progression, and draw in each full chord (i.e. 1, 3, 5).



Root note of each chord in progression (key note, D, highlighted)




Step 2. The Drama


Great melodies contain drama, and there’s no better way to bring the drama than by using a big interval. You see, larger intervals create intensity, while smaller intervals create continuity. You need both. In fact, you need a lot more smaller intervals than bigger intervals. However, if your melody contains only small intervals, it’ll be awfully boring. On the other hand, if your melody contains only big intervals, people will presume you were thoroughly drunk when you wrote it. Download the PDF to read the rest of this tutorial…




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Lastly, are you new to music theory? Or are you experienced, but you want a refresher? Then download our FREE BOOK (link opens in new tab). It only takes 30 minutes to read, then you’ll have a solid theory foundation that you can instantly apply to your songwriting and producing. Enjoy!







If the FREE BOOK link doesn't work, just visit our BOOKS page:



Ray Harmony
Multi award-winning college lecturer