Here's a tune that started off as a physical rendition of notes on the page forming the shape of the melody, "A ROCK'S LINE" (click to hear the tune). Huh? Here's the melody, written.
Here's an artists rendition of the scenery that inspired the line..
See the similarity of the shapes of the orange-ish line to the shape the notes make on the page? Yes, I actually wrote a song based on that sort of thing! Who knows why. I definitely enjoy writing from all different angles of the music.
So in this case, the melody came first. Then, and quickly I should say, the harmony started up. The driving rhythmic aspect of the harmonic content was doubtless influenced by the fact that it was a chilly early autumn day out there. The words and more of the melody and harmony developed naturally from the initial four measures (of the vocal portion on the recording).
Guess where the words came from?
"This is a rock's line, this is the line of a tree
How the mountain lays
This is what we call red on the mountains all green
In the blue haze
This is the snow falling motionless
On the first fall day..."