3 Techniques For Creating Melodies With AudioCipher

It can be tricky to come up with great melody ideas that we've never used before. That's because as musicians we tend to get comfortable with the patterns that are most familiar to us. There's nothing wrong with selecting and reusing musical concepts. In fact, repetition can help define our songwriting style and differentiate us from others in our lane. We just want to avoid redundancy.

If there's a lack of variety between tracks, the audience starts to get bored. They want to hear a mix of something familiar with ideas that feel novel. But if we spend too much time trying to reinvent the wheel, we waste our time and slow down productivity. So this article will address how to speed up your creative process and discover new ideas or patterns, to overcome writer's block.

Creating Melodies with AudioCipher

AudioCipher is a songwriting inspiration app that turns words into MIDI sequences. It can work wonders for the music production workflow - instead of staring at a blank DAW you can use the plugin to give you a starting point. Type in things that inspire you, that you would want to write a song about. Choose a key and drag the MIDI onto a virtual instrument to get started. The real question is, what do you do from there?

In the following examples, I'll show you a few different ways that you can use your AudioCipher MIDI output for melody writing. You don't need any music theory knowledge to get started, but it might help. To get a basic music education for free, we recommend checkout

Each of these videos opens with a sample of the music first and then shows you the writing process we used. The team entered names and phrases that you'll recognize, this way you understand the unique concept behind the app.

Call and Response Melodies

The first songwriting technique we'll showcase is called call and response. Humans have used this method for thousands of years, long before Western music theory was invented. One person would sing a melody (the call) and another person would respond with a new melody or musical idea that seems to complete it.

Songwriting process: Here are steps you can take to write your own piece of music with AudioCipher.

  1. Use a short word (4-8 letters) in the key of your choice and drag to midi. This will act as your "call". For beginner keyboard players, use Audiocipher in C major. That ensures that your melody consists of white keys only, making improvising new melodic ideas easier.

  2. If you play an instrument, try playing those notes yourself so you can connect deeply with the line.

  3. Let your imagination respond with different notes that comes from your own mind. This is the "response" portion of your melody.

In the video example above, we use the name Pikachu to come up with our call. The short melody has a jagged, lightning-bolt shape to it and ends on a high note, so we wrote a response that mirrored that shape and descends. Your audiocipher melody won't always mimic the word you type in, but sometimes it will.

Once you have your call and response melody, you can begin to add chords and pick instruments that match the word you chose. In our case, we used a cute bubbly tone for the Pikachu melody, to bring out that side of the pokemon's personality.

Great songs often have a chorus melody that develops on what happened in the verse. Using as few as one or two different notes can be enough to change the mood of the second section. Check some of your favorite songs for inspiration.

Group the Melodic Phrase Into Sections

Good melodies often include some rhythmic syncopation, meaning the notes have different durations and are spaced apart. Rhythm is very closely connected to what makes us human. Without knowing any music theory, you can use your ear to create catchy rhythms from the AudioCipher MIDI output.

Songwriting process: In the video example above, we started with the phrase "green tea" and exported it in a simple 8th note pattern.

Once we had our melody, we were able to create some subtle variations to it the second time we played it. This happens intuitively and is usually easy, if you follow your ear. Here's a summary of how you can group AudioCipher melody output into sections:

  1. Pick a word or short phrase that inspires you (6-15 letters)

  2. Look for the first melodic shape (3-6 notes) that jumps out at you. They could be moving in a single direction or have a unique shape that you like. In the green tea example, we grouped them into "gree" and "ntea". The phrase ends on the lowest note in our phrase, punctuating it like the end of a statement.

  3. Continue this process until you've grouped all the notes. If there's only one group that you think stands out, you can lump everything else together.

  4. Come up with a rhythm for the groupings that you like. Use the right combination of short and long notes to give it a natural, singable feel.

If you are having a difficult time coming up with rhythms for your own melody, don't forget to try the rhythm randomizer feature. When you switch it on, AudioCipher will apply a random set of note durations to the MIDI output. This tends to produce better melodies. Every time you drag to midi, a new rhythm will be produced.

Create an Ostinato (Repeating Phrase)

Melodies don't always have to have syncopated rhythms. One example of this is the ostinato, a fancy term from classical music that just means a repeating musical phrase. Typically these phrases are used as a bass line but they can be placed in other registers too. They should be catchy, memorable melodies that people won't mind listening to as a loop.

Songwriting process: In the example above, we switched AudioCipher to the chromatic setting, which produced a set of notes outside of the ordinary harmonic framework. This is a bit like a roll of the dice. The word we used was Charizard, the fire breathing pokemon, and then created a track that matched the chaos of its character.

First we listened to the phrase and grouped it into "c" and "harizard". The second grouping has eight letter, so it was perfect for a 16th note phrase that would repeat in each measure. Then used the extra letter, only once, as a pickup note.

Here's how you can write your own ostinato:

  1. Choose a word with 4 or 8 letters in it. Quarter notes are fine for short words, but as words and phrases get longer, I recommend using shorter notes (8th or 16th duration). Select a minor scale to get a cool, darker feel. Major scales can be used for brighter, happier chord tones.

  2. Drag the word to your midi instrument of choice.

  3. Loop the riff across several measures.

  4. Use a pentatonic scale to write your own melody over the ostinato phrase, focusing on stepwise motion to avoid big melodic leaps. Assign these simple melodies to a separate instrument for better contrast.

This use of repeating music phrases can be found in every genre and is one of the simplest ways to create a song melody. Consider adding a chord change while the ostinato pattern changes, so create movement in the track.

In our next article, we'll show you some techniques that will help you use AudioCipher to write chord progressions.

Want some help coming up with words to use in AudioCipher? Check out this article on how to write a song with a melody generator, where we lay out several possibilities to get your creative gears turning. Have fun!