Oasis “Wonderwall” is a very simple and straight forward song, and thus an excellent example for mining songwriting fundamentals for songwriters early in their development. Really, it’s not necessary to incorporate fancy moves like key and tempo changes for a song to be impactful. Let’s look at the basics evident in this song, and how well they pull those off.
- The verse melody has a highly distinct rhythm. Rhythm is a critical part of melody and having a line where rhythm alone is interesting to listen to really contributes to the song’s listenability.
- As a side note, notice how the verse rhythm matches the natural rhythm of the spoken English, where strong words fall on strong/long notes and none of the words have awkward/weird alterations in terms of emphasis and length of syllables. Spoken rhythm can serve as a great starting point for a melody.
- The chorus features a triadic melody, using the notes found in the key of the song — F# minor, which is made up from F#, A, and C#, and those are the prominent notes used. Triadic melody is more interesting to listen to than melodies that go up and down the scale in a stepwise motion, but the jumps don’t come across as odd or awkward. Analyzing the notes used in the chords and playing around with it is an excellent way to compose a melody.
- The pre-chorus has a passage where the chord changes twice as often as the rest of the song. “Harmonic rhythm” is a term used to describe the regular intervals at which chords change in a song, and it should generally stay consistent throughout the song. But a critical part can deviate away from that, to bring emphasis and grab attention of the listener.
- This passage in particular features the oft-used G-D/F#-Em move (with capo on the 2nd fret) which is easy to use for these chords-change-faster moves. It’s because D with F# at the bottom serves as a great “passing chord” between G and Em, where the bass note travels stepwise G-F#-E. This makes the chord change sound smooth and prevent it from sounding out of place.