How to write a melody

Melody is usually the most memorable part of a song, so you want to make sure yours are bossing it. Learn how to write better melodies with Captain Plugins.

Game changer

Heavenly melodies

Regardless of your level of music theory, you know when a melody is good, because it sounds like it belongs in the song, and you find yourself humming it long after you stop writing. If you’re not, chances are it’s a forgettable melody.

Writing great melodies is a lot about feeling – a good songwriter is skilled at funnelling their feelings into music. However, there is also a large element of skill and theory involved, too. Does the melody suit the rest of the song? Does it convey the right kind of emotion? Is it catchy? Too complex? Maybe it’s too simple? Does the rhythm jar with the drum beat or sound like it fits?

These are all conundrums that a song-writer has to consider, and they can all be resolved using music theory.

Captain Melody 5.0

  • Write melodies that suit your chord progression
  • Connect the Melody plugin with Chords plugin
  • Apply different rhythms
  • Apply arpeggiators that move your MIDI notes
  • Adjust the tension between the Chords and Melody
  • Hear the melody played with 100+ different sounds
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Idea shower.

These conundrums can make or break a melody. And with Captain Melody, you have the power to answer these complex theoretical questions in an intuitive, easy-to-use plugin.

In particular, Captain Melody’s Idea tool is a supremely capable tool for composing melodies with total control of the melodic parameters. Each aspect of melodic construction can be tweaked and controlled to generate original, unique melodies.

This is achieved by using ‘Idea boxes’. Inside each Idea box, notes are auto-generated. These notes will be in your chosen scale and key, and if you have connected Captain Melody to Captain Chords, will also be in tune with your chord progression. Then, with the notes on the canvas, you can use the Idea tools to edit, adjust and rework the melody until it’s just right. This tool is fascinating because it manages to give you complete creative control, and yet is likely to surprise and inspire you as you combine parameters. And, if you need to make minor adjustments, you can still edit the MIDI notes in the traditional way.

These parameters fall into 4 control tabs: Shape, Rhythm, First Note and Lanes.


As a melody plays out, it forms a shape. When you look at a melody in the form of MIDI notes, you can easily see the shape of it across the screen. In Captain Melody, Shape is the area in which you can control this journey.

From left to right, we have Step, Leap, Direction and Octave. And finally, an Update Shape button.


There are 5 parameters within shape:

  • Step. This is the proportion of the notes which rise or fall in a step-wise motion. Steps are a single note up or down in the scale of whichever chord the melody is playing over.
  • Leap. This is the proportion of the notes which rise or fall in by skipping at least one step.
  • Direction. The direction of the shape.
  • Octave.
  • Update Shape. Recasts the melody with a randomly generated pattern based on the currently selected Shape parameters.


Rhythm is really important when writing melodies. Deciding how many notes and how fast they should play is fundamental in creating the mood for your melody. The right rhythm needs to combine with the right note choices for a melody to match the rest of the song.


In an Idea box, Rhythm has 5 parameters that dictste the cadence of the melody:

  • Density. This is the number of notes in the Idea box.
  • Triplets. The proportion of notes which play in triplets. Triplets = 3 notes over 2 beats.
  • Note Length.
  • Rests. A rest is a 2 beat section from which notes are excluded, which acts as a pause within the melody.
  • Update Rhythm. Recasts the melody with a randomly generated new rhythm based on the currently selected Rhythm parameters.

First Note.

First Note

Decide which note the melody should lead with. Combining options adds a degree of randomness to the selection.



When connected to a chord progression from Captain Chords, you can dictate the proportional representation of each note in the current chord’s scale. Higher values increase the chance of that note being represented, and at what frequency.

Check out this awesome Captain Melody tutorial from Mau Montekio below:

Think inside the box.

The controls in Captain Melody’s Idea boxes allow you to write melodies which are rooted in deep music theory, regardless of your personal experience.

More, even, than simply a tool which gives you mastery of music theory, it is a tool that generates happy accidents… just like having a jam on a real keyboard might. It’s a ground-breaking and inspiring tool for writing melodies that will leave you inspired and amazed.


With Captain Plugins, anyone can write better songs and melodies, regardless of their level of music theory. Whether you’re a skilled musician that doesn’t play piano and wants to get their ideas down as MIDI music, a theory expert seeking a faster way to try new ideas, or a complete beginner, Captain Plugins has the tools to bring your ideas to life.

Write better melodies with Captain Plugins

It’s super easy to create your own ideas from scratch. Visit the official Captain Plugins homepage and see how it will help you explore music and write your own original productions.