How to Find Melodic Inspiration Using Free Classical Music MIDI Files
Do you ever find yourself lacking in melodic inspiration? Writing engaging and memorable melodies can be one of the hardest parts of songwriting and music production.
We dare say it’s a trickier task than constructing rhythms and chord sequences, and all the more important: laying an earworm off a hook or an anthemic plumb line can often make the a trail from decent to unforgettable.
We’ve all been there: pounding away at our MIDI keyboards for days, chasing that elusive sequence of notes that will bring the perfect vibe to whatever we’re working on. Next time this happens, stop banging your head against a wall and consider trying something a little different.
Kunst der Fuge is the Internet’s largest classical music MIDI file resource, containing thousands of digitized sheet music scores from some of history’s most famous smiths – Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and many more.
Next time you’re suffering from writer’s block, simply dive into their collection of nearly 20,000 classic compositions, download something that catches your eye, drop the MIDI file into your DAW, and experiment by cutting various passages and blending them. posing on your track to find new and unexpected melodic lines, harmonies and rhythms.
As the composers represented in the library are long gone, their works are now in the public domain, meaning you are free to draw as much inspiration from this resource as you wish.
We’re not advocating wholesale imitation of a composer’s tunes – we don’t think sticking Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on your next jungle heater is a brilliant idea – but rather suggesting that you could find shapes and creatively inspiring melodic patterns buried in this archive that can be cut, rearranged, modified, transposed and transformed for use in your own work.
Here’s how it’s done.
Step 1: Head over to the Kunst Der Fuge website, browse through their composer library, and select something to download. We’re Debussy fans here at MusicRadar, so we’ve chosen Arabesque No. 2 in E major.
Unless you want to transpose the notes in the file into your project key, you’ll want to choose something that’s in the same key as your track, or is harmonically related.
2nd step: Drag and drop the MIDI file into your DAW, onto a MIDI track that uses a synth or virtual instrument that you think works with the rest of the project. We use Logic Pro, but it should work with almost any DAW.
We lay the file over a 4/4 groove we created earlier, and it will play through Logic’s native software synthesizer, Alchemy, using a patch we designed earlier.
Step 3: Align the MIDI file so it’s in time with your project, or experiment with quantization to see if new and engaging rhythms emerge from the material, like we did. Press play, listen and keep an ear out for any interesting passage that arouses your curiosity.
If you don’t hear anything that interests you, try changing the instrument or synth you’re using, or go back to Kunst Der Fuge and try out a few other composers.
Step 4: Once you find something you like, cut a section you like, loop it, and lay it over the part of your track that you lacked melody. We almost instantly found a bouncy four-bar riff that works well on our existing beat.
You might want to dive into the Piano Roll or MIDI editor and make some tweaks to help melodic gel with the rest of your track’s elements. We cut the lowest notes in our passage and placed them on a different MIDI track, to be played by a synth patch that sounds better on the bass parts.
So ! Thank you, Debussy.