Frequently Asked Questions
Anyone and everyone (from novice to professional) who composes or improvises melody will discover:
- new ways to work (your creativity process).
- new ways to think about melody.
- dependable ways to revise and improve your melodies.
- ways to create continuity, intrigue, surprise.
- how to keep your melodies from all sounding the same.
Mostly. If you can read music well, you will be able to understand the graphic examples quickly. But notated music is a form of graphic notation. The notes higher on the staff sound higher. Since there are audio examples all the way through, you can get a good sense of each example by hearing and seeing what is under discussion.
Over the years, I’ve heard from users who couldn’t read music very well when they started said that they improved greatly after working through a few chapters of FOM.
As with reading music, the more background you bring, the easier time you’ll have. At the bare minimum you need to know how to spell chords and how to count rhythms. A more extensive list may be found here.
There are no other true methods for writing melody. A few “methods” will list a series of steps, but do nothing in the way of showing how to execute those steps. FOM is systematic without being oppressive. It shows you how to create a rough version of a melody quickly, then helps you revise and intensify it. All along the way, it draws from real-life melodies as examples.
And then there is the subject of melodic figuration. No other method in print or online shows how to compouse using the basic building blocks of melody.
No. I developed the basic framework of FOM while teaching at Berklee College of Music—the world’s largest music school—which serves non-classical musicians. My students there loved the method because it fit so naturally with their courses on improvisation and songwriting. The FOM eBook does focus on the music of J.S. Bach. But learning to write like Bach is NOT the goal. I chose Bach because it is so easy to see his thought processes, especially in the works for solo violin and ‘cello. His “tricks of the trade” are fully adaptable to every style.
I have spent decades doing my best to make the eBooks clear and memorable. And I believe that you’ll get a lot out of them in the coming years. But something wise old Benjamin Franklin once said has stuck with me, and I think it applies here. “Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.”
If you really want to learn, GET INVOLVED. Pick up the workbook! It’s full of exercises and projects that will boost your skills and understanding.