I've been dabbling in composition/songwriting for the past year or so, and I feel I've improved significantly, but I feel the types of songs I want to write would be improved with some vocals. I'd like to write stuff for me (piano) and my friends (bass, guitar) to play together, and ideally I'd like to have a piano/bass/guitar/drums-type band.

Anyway, aside from the problem of writing decent lyrics, I have difficulty coming up with good vocal melodies. One issue is that I write a lot of stuff in minor keys and use a fair amount of pentatonic scales, and I'm having a hard time getting vocal melodies that go well against that.

So basically I have two questions: 1) What techniques do you guys use when coming up with vocal melodies (techniques that would be specific to vocals) and 2) What techniques do you guys use in writing the instrumental parts during a section with a vocal melody? How does these sections typically differ from purely instrumental sections?

Thanks for any input.