Melody and lyrics are intertwined and are both crucial parts of making song truly great. If you are a songwriter, however, which should you focus on the most and which aspect of the song are people more likely to connect with? Do we read into every lyric or is a great melody enough to stay memorable, even if lyrics leave more to be desired? We explore the complex and interesting topic of melody vs lyrics in this article.
Is Melody Really All You Need?
Many would say that melody takes the upper hand over lyrics. This is because lyrics can sometimes be misheard or written in a language that your audience may not understand. But we can all appreciate a powerful, catchy melody and it allows plenty of room for interpretation and finding our unique connection to a song. Some hitmakers even take a calculated approach to melody and lyrics. They may focus on whether the lyrics have the right number of syllables to match the rhythm of the melody, therefore, putting less emphasis on lyrical content, as long as it serves the melody.
Sometimes, great songs are written with passages that feature vocalisations rather than lyrics. A prime example of this is Kylie Minogue’s ‘Can’t Get You Out Of My Head’ or the hook of Sam Smith’s ‘La La La’. Scatting can also be very effective – just like in Nina Simone’s ‘I Put A Spell On You’. While all these songs feature lyrics too, they are fantastic examples of how melody alone can make us connect to music and evoke emotion, even without lyrical content. Not to mention, the number of instrumental pieces out there that we hold a special connection too, without even the presence of a vocal. Or what about opera music, where lyrics can be harder to decipher due to the way they are sung, yet the performances still take us on an emotional journey.
A Case For Lyrics
Great melodies certainly seem like they may take the upper hand when we talk about melody vs lyrics, but words can help us form an even deeper connection to the music we listen to. There is nothing like being able to relate to every single word a songwriter is singing.
Take Amy Winehouse, for example. Her songs are catchy and feature great grooves and melodies. However, coupled with her poignant and poetic lyrics, they have become classics that will inspire generations to come.
Billie Eilish is another great songwriter who couples catchy melodies with introspective lyrical content that her audience can really connect with. In other genres like hip hop and rap there may be less reliance on melodies and more focus on the rhythmic and lyrical aspects of a song. Yet, these have earned their place as one of the most popular styles of music today.
We have songs that we gravitate towards for every mood, we quote song lyrics, belt them out loud or quietly feel each word relating to a specific situation in our lives. No matter the tone of the song, great lyrical content only complements a melody and makes a song truly impactful, unforgettable piece of art.
Melody vs Lyrics And Our Brain
One of the qualities that make our enjoyment and experience of music so unique is that it engages both hemispheres of our brain. Few activities have the power to do that. Researchers have found that our brain processes speech or rhythmic information using its left hemisphere and melody or frequency information using the right hemisphere.
These findings explain why damage to the left side of the brain tends to affect our speech and damage to the right side tends to affect our musical ability. They also show just how important all aspects of music are to fully engage our brain. Music is a very complex activity that is mostly unique to humans and it’s great to appreciate our ability to enjoy, explore and process it by immersing ourselves into it.
Melody vs Lyrics – Why Choose Just One?
So, the bottom line is that yes, melody may play a bigger role in music. This is simply due to its ability to transcend language barriers and words that may get lost or misinterpreted. But it’s only a small advantage. Lyrics can help to inform and emphasise rhythmic elements of a song. It’s a true art form to write words that can connect with people, pulling at their heart strings and describing exactly how they might feel. The beauty of both lyrical and melodic content is that we can all find our own meaning behind them. So don’t overlook melody or lyrics – focus on honing your song writing craft in both aspects of music and you will be on to something truly special. Something that may withstand the test of time and form a true, lasting connection between you and your audience.
Take Adult Singing Lessons With London Singing Institute
To become a great songwriter, you need to study the songs of others and develop your instrument. This is how you will have the flexibility to write to your best singing abilities, as well as having in-depth knowledge of arrangement, composition, and lyrics. At London Singing Institute, we provide the supportive and encouraging environment every vocalist needs to develop their craft.
Specialising in adult singing lessons, your classes will be a judgment-free zone where you can fully express yourself and uncover your talent. We provide courses to suit everyone’s learning style from group lessons to intensive programmes and individual sessions.
No matter your preferred genres, our teachers will show you techniques used by professionals to develop a distinct sound, while keeping your voice healthy!
We provide lessons in all popular styles, including classical, musical theatre, jazz, blues, rock and pop.
Contact us today to start your singing journey!
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, Singing advice
, Speech and singing