an interactive e-Book
with over 300 pages of
clear instructions that will
make your music more varied,
expressive, and memorable

Hello, I’m David Fuentes. I’ve been a composer and professor for over 30 years. Thanks for letting me tell you about Figuring Out Melody.

Here’s a summary of things I’ve heard from my students and others who have worked through Figuring Out Melody.

If you resonate with any of the difficulties above, I understand. I’ve helped others find a way forward. My eBook Figuring Out Melody can help you, too!
help composing melody

Figuring Out Melody will take you to new heights in your music making. It’s the sort of adventure that will call upon all the skills you already possess,
plus give you new ones. 

And like any good adventure, you’ll never look at things quite the same way EVER AGAIN!

Whether you’re a music student, a published composer or songwriter, a music producer, improvisor, teacher, or hobbyist, I’m confident that the insights and instructions in Figuring Out Melody will help you create more expressive, exciting, memorable melodies – whether you hope to write pop songs or a classical symphony.

In fact, I guarantee it!
Download Figuring Out Melody. Try on some of the ideas. If you don’t think it will make you a better musician, email me and I’ll give you all your money back. This is a big risk for me. It’s impossible to return an eBook. But that’s OK. I didn’t write Figuring Out Melody to get rich; I wrote it to serve musicians like you.

And that is exactly what seems to have happened. For OVER 25 YEARS, OVER 3,700 MUSICIANS have read this book, and they have had the sorts of triumphs described on this webpage.

For example, I recently sent out a survey to people who bought Figuring Out Melody:   “What ‘pain point’ prompted you to search for my book?”

Here are just a few of the responses:

How About YOU?

Are you satisfied with where you are as a composer? Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Stop doubting yourself! Dig in to Figuring Out Melody  and discover just how far you can go!
frustrated composer

What Are You Waiting For?

Become a better composer!

with this interactive eBook

This volume presents a step-by-step method
for composing a good unaccompanied melody.
And what makes a melody “good?”

A good melody is memorable, expressive, intriguing, and unique. It follows its own inner logic as it moves in ways listeners can readily follow, yet can’t fully predict. Even without accompaniment, a good melody projects colorful, striking harmonies. And it says something.

Once you become adept at unaccompanied melody your melodies will no longer “all sound the same.” You’ll know several different ways to begin, continue, and end each phrase. You’ll be able to sketch a pretty good melody in just a few seconds, and know dozens of ways to bring it to life.

15 chapters plus an introduction; 142 pages.


Traditional methods for composing “tonal counterpoint” are based on intervals. But tonality is not based on intervals, it’s based on harmony. Figuring Out Melody is the first book to offer a systematic yet intuitive way to use chord tones to write counterpoint.

There are six chapters on the “basics”: 1:1, 2:1, suspensions, imitative counterpoint, and much more – all with far more practical instruction than usual. Four Chapters on invention make it clear why Bach himself claimed that composing inventions is indispensable for composers. Similarly, chapters on canon and fugue dig deeply into the compositional process.

In the end, your counterpoint skills will transform all the music you compose: piano music, chamber music, choral music, pop songs, art songs, film scores, EDM, video gaming, and sound design!


Many an enthusiastic reader has said that the ideas and instructions in the FOM eBook have changed how they hear and make music. Still, reading the eBook alone is like reading a menu without ordering the food.

The workbook exercises, analyses, and composition projects will help you internalize and digest everything you discover. They’ll make you master mechanics and stretch your imagination. An answer key in the back of the workbook lets you know right away whether you’re on the right track. Besides solutions, there is commentary to explain any “tricky” spots in the exercises.

105 exercises; 8 analysis projects; 8 composition projects; 131 pages


The instructions in the eBook show how to set up a framework for counterpoint, then embellish that framework to create interesting textures, harmonic tension and release, nuanced cadences, and imitative counterpoint. So why is a workbook necessary?

So glad you asked!

Most people will benefit by starting with basic drills before jumping into a broader application of the techniques at hand. Even the “more advanced” chapters on invention, canon, and fugue are designed with this in mind. The exercises show a variety of ways to build each smaller component part of an imitative form before tackling an entire piece.

126 exercises; 6 analysis projects; 7 composition projects; scores for 8 inventions and 5 fugues; 185 pages


Save a bundle on a bundle!

any two books

$40.00 $35.00

use code: any2

all four books

$80.00 $55.00

use code: all4

music students

currently enrolled in a high school, college, or graduate music course are eligible for an extra 20% discount.

use code: musicstudent20

(enter after other codes)

… for the still-curious …

two things

1. More On What You'll Learn

a summary of sections and chapters

  • In Chapter, you’ll learn a simple, 3-step method to sketch and revise a basic melody. Without even realizing it, you’ll write several of the most basic melodic figures. The chapter also explains why we can hear harmony from a single line of melody.
  • Chapter 2 introduces the principle of “predictability.” Every effective piece of music includes parts that go exactly where we’d expect, and a few parts that surprise us. You’ll learn which figures produce which effects. You’ll also learn to write the most predictable melodic figures. 
  • Chapter 3 explores melodic motion in time: how melodic ideas align with beats. You’ll learn how to make melodies sound ultra-smooth or agitated. You’ll discover how to use steps and leaps to accent the exactly the notes you want to emphasize.
  • Chapter 4 introduces “fancier” (more impressive) figures and shows what to think about as you write them so you can compose more quickly and securely.
  • Chapter 5 helps incorporate “tendency tones” so that they don’t “stick out.” Then at the end of the chapter, you’ll discover several situations where it’s good to let those same tendency tones “make a fuss” because it’s a great way to add richness to your music!
  • Chapter 6 shows ways to vary rhythm to create anticipation, momentum, and punch.
  • Chapter 7 shows how to make a single line sound like it’s being played (or sung) by two or more people. Take your melodies from 2-D to 3-D (or even 4-D)!
  • Chapters 8-10 focus on all things repetition – not only what to repeat, but what to think about as you do. (See above for a few examples.)
  • Chapter 11 shows how to use material from Chapters 1-10 to create subtle character and dynamic contrast in your music.
  • Chapters 12 & 13 show how to apply the basic principles of melodic figuration to create interesting and satisfying harmonic progressions.
  • Chapter 14 shows how to control pacing in your music by making strong or subtle cadences.
  • Chapter 15 shows why pivot chord modulation doesn’t work: because it is based on theory (faulty theory) rather than what actually happens. Here, you’ll learn an utterly new way to modulate – one that WORKS!   This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

Chapters 16-21 cover 2-part COUNTERPOINT, the art of combining melodies, or a melody and bass line. Unlike every other method, which focus on the intervals between notes, Figuring Out Melody focuses on chord tones and melodic figures (i.e., what you master in Chapters 1-10). Think how “Karate Kid” learned to fight by waxing a car. Just by working through chapters 1-10, you’ll already know how to write counterpoint!

J.S. Bach wrote a set of 15 “teaching pieces” for his students. Many people assume that by students, he meant keyboard students, as these pieces provide just the right amount of challenge and reward to young fingers. But Bach’s preface makes it clear that his Inventions are to teach the art of composition. Chapters 22-25 break down what Bach has done so that anyone can master the compositional principles he sets forth in his Inventions. Working through this section will help you internalize a very high level of compositional mastery.

Anyone who enjoyed the challenge of writing an invention will want to continue with these more advanced applications: canon, 3-part counterpoint, and fugue. Dexterity is the mark of a true master musician. As with the more basic techniques covered in earlier chapters, Figuring Out Melody breaks “advanced” matters down to make them manageable and gratifying. 

“… some of the clearest and most helpful material on fugal writing I have come across.” Michael R. Rogers, author of Teaching Approaches in Music Theory: An Overview of Pedagogical Philosophies

Finally, Chapter 30 shows how the principles and practices of melodic figuration apply to music beyond the Baroque era (where so many examples in Figuring Out Melody have been drawn).

2. A Comprehensive Preview

Two chapters of Figuring Out Melody,
plus some of the workbook

Copyright © 1994-2019 David Fuentes

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