Music & Entertainment

Developing Melodic Structures


Lesson time 16:46 min

Whether you've had musical training or not, you can use these deadmau5 techniques to start drawing melodies into your DAW and creating loops that resolve.

Teaches Electronic Music Production
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I approach music on an experimentation level. I don't dream up things. I'm not fucking-- what's his name from the Beatles. I had it in a dream, and I transcribed it. I need to hear it. I need to be on it and be experimenting with it right then and there. Essentially, all music is is a series of cycles. And that's for everything. Country music is a series of cycles. You play this chord, that chord, that chord, that chord. And then it's this chord, that chord, that chord, that chord, this chord, that chord, that chord. There really isn't a lot of music out there that isn't part of a cycle. So the thing about the cycle-- in my mind, the way it works is that you start on a note, and then do what you want here, but just as long as you can get it to resolve back to that same root structure so that the cycle sounds natural as opposed to some abrupt thing. I don't know. Because honestly, I slept during music. And even though I went to a conservatory for music, I slept doing that too, and I totally don't know what this is called. But I call it resolving. Maybe that's actually what it is called. I don't fucking know. So the melody has to resolve so that it sounds like a continual cycle or something like that. So it can't just abruptly end on a chord and then start on a different chord on a different key. It just clashes when it comes back around if it's a loop bass thing. All of my songs would be good examples of how to close that loop. Let's see here. So this is just some free thinking stuff here. [MELODY PLAYS] I'm just going to tighten this up real quick. OK. So we got three now that harmoniously go together. [MELODY PLAYS] So that would be my first two bars of something. [MELODY PLAYS] So that's a cycle in itself, but there's no key change in there. So what I would instinctively do is duplicate that. And so you have that now, and now you've got a four bar kind of melody going. But you want a key change. [MELODY PLAYS] Now, I know the top note should be this, so I'm going to put that in the same spot and then bring that first note down. [MELODY PLAYS] Well, now that's a change. Now, a bad cycle, I can tell you right now, would be-- since now we're looking at eight bars-- Yeah. See, now that doesn't resolve to me. Now, when I'm doing this kind of thing over eight bars, what I'm actually looking at is this last bar and this first bar. So what I want to do is just listen to the-- [MELODY PLAYS] So the only way that would resolve as it is now without it changing completely is make this minor now. So now I know that-- [MELODY PLAYS] See that? To me, that makes more sense than going from that minor to major. Now I'm going from minor to minor, which makes more sense. I think it's actually just a different interval of that exact same chord. So now that I know that those two are on, now I can go ahead and fix. [MELODY PLAYS] See, now t...

Make better music

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

It helped both music structure and management wise, i really loved the creating sound chapter about not using persets.

Even though I'm much more of a traditional musician than an EDM producer, I found Joel's technical advice way more valuable than Santana's wishy-washy nonsense.

Thought what you tell us? Starting Courses ASAP! =)

Masterclass has a good record, and deadmau5 isn't here for nothing. Though, this is an intro course likely not suited for veteran producers.


A fellow student

You know whats crazy about Deadmou5? Drone notes and resolve is indeed a musical aspect. The drone notes he talking about are basically pedal tones, many classical composers like Beethoven and especially Bach used pedal tones to create tension. Resolve is also a concept that allows the section to "come home" which would be the root chord of the key. Deadmou5 has learned all of this through self learning and experimentation, that's probably why his music is so unique.


Man he's so right on listening to the cycle. many times I think "i got it" then loop it and i'm all "what is that????" :-)


Wonderful insights, I really dig the idea that you should always be mediating between 'pleasing' your listeners and 'pleasing' yourself. And the curious detail that 'pleasing' yourself often means exploring uncharted territory. Love that insight.

A fellow student

He reminds me of one of my art school teachers. Just watching him work through things teaches me so many things.

Timothy O.

That was very useful.....I liked his comments about not being "obvious" and the distinction between crowd-pleasing and pleasing oneself musically...that made a lot of sense to me

Bryston W.

"What I had done here is used ABSYNTH." I think for a brief moment, at least for those of us who are new to this, thought of ABSINTHE. Maybe just me. Made me chuckle. Keep rocking y'all.


One truth about performing as a live musician, "The audience is always right." Snowcone, although a really cool track, just doesn't hit the audience at live shows like some of his other stuff. It's more introspective and chill vs. "throw your hands in the air" party track.

Jose M P.

So confused about the drone, can someone explain? So all the keys should be around the drone? below on top? or should at least one key on those chords should be playing the drone? Or it is just based on your ear and what goes with the drone based on what you believe sounds good with it?

Jose M P.

So is the "drone" note used to resolve your chord progression? I'm a bit confused on that. Can you use the drone to write the melody? I got a bit lost there sorry.

Nicolas T.

thanks for the lesson Joel! Really just absorbing what your putting out and i appreciate the content man! I really like the drone idea and how the notes kind of blossom out of the drone, thanks again