Now that you’ve had a go at playing the blues scale and improvising using the notes, you can start composing your head motif or head melody.

Remind me what a motif and a 'head' melody are?

A motif is a short musical idea. A ‘head’ motif is a catchy musical idea heard at the start (or “head”) of the 12-bar chord pattern which you will create later on  – it signals when the chord pattern has started again.

I’ve written a few head motifs for you to have a look at and listen to:

What do you notice about each melody?
  • They are 4 bars long
  • They all have syncopation (off-beat rhythms)
  • They only use notes from the blues scale
  • Bar 3 starts the same as Bar 1
Sibelius users…

On Sibelius I set the ‘rhythmic feel’ to ‘swung rhythm’ so that all the quavers are played back as swung quavers.

Here’s how to do it: – Click on ‘Play’ on the menu bar > ‘Performance’ > ‘Light swing’ (under ‘rhythmic feel’)

Handy tips for composing your own head melody:
  1. ONLY use notes from the blues scale – this will make it sound jazzy.
  2. Keep it simple! You don’t have to use all the notes – try repeating some pitches.
  3. Try using syncopation (off-beat rhythm)
  4. Repetition is good, it’s what makes a tune catchy and memorable.  You don’t have to use different notes and rhythms for every bar.

It’s a good idea to start the head melody on C.  You don’t have to do this, but you might find it easier.

Recording your ideas
DAW or notation programmes

If you know that you’ll be using a DAW or notation programme to compose your piece you may wish to record your ideas in this way.  The last lessons of this section will take you through setting up your score or file.

Manuscript paper

If you need manuscript paper to write your ideas down, just click the purple box below:

Time to have a go yourself

Now have a go at creating your own head motif using the examples and tips as a guide.

Why not create three or four and then choose the one you like best!

Ready to move on?

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed creating your head melody – make sure it’s recorded or written down somewhere!  In the next lesson we’re going to develop this idea further, so when you’re ready, click the MARK COMPLETE button below…