Writing Catchy Themes

Hi fellow guitarists!

I'm glad to be back with a new column about writing catchy themes. I hope that this is an aural and methodical inspiration for you, to write your own catchy themes!

OK, I'll show you and let you listen to one of my most intense themes of my ballad called "Old Salt"- simply using a big interval plus some fills and variation between. Sounds weird to you? Or too easy? Let's check it out!

Here's the clip we'll be talking about:

MP3 - Old Salt - Theme

As you can hear, the melody consists of a very small recurring fragment; a slowly played 'big falling interval' like a fifth or a tritone (b5).


Of course the phrasing is very important too, but a small melodic fragment is the real ear catcher here!

By the way, concerning phrasing, you may have noticed that I often use bends starting from a note out of the scale. This is a very interesting approach too, often used by Marty Friedman and Jason Becker. I plan to write a future column about this.

In the second part of this theme (second half of the clip), I play with the same idea, but on higher frets and with more fills between this recurring melodic fragment.

Now, listen to it again and try to capture the idea, the spirit and feeling of this theme.

For those of you who like such melodic plays, here's another theme with slides taken from the same song, using this technique of repeating and varying melodic fragments.

MP3 - Old Salt - Theme with slides

This is one approach I used to write catchy melodies for my album "Electric Storm".

Thank you for your interest, every feedback from you is appreciated!

Dan Keller, Switzerland's Sultan of String, is a guitarist whose original compositions showcase his exotic metal fretwork.

His debut CD is entitled "Electric Storm".

Dan Keller