Melody The Basics. What is Melody Melody is technically a series of pitches organized rhythmically....
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What is MelodyMelody is technically a series of pitches organized rhythmically. The melody defines the song form and harmonic possibilities. It is the part that most people remember and sing. If it is a good melody it can be sung acapella and still have impact.
BASICS Music is basically a series of organized audible patterns. Our cultural listening habits and exposure create a taste for certain sounds and patterns, and a dislike of others. For example, the differences in Asian, Arabic and Western music are profound.
Even within a single culture, let us say American Music, there a many different genres, each representing the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic likes of certain groups of people. Some qualities of these genres of music may be unpleasant to others, but there is an underlying set of musical principals that tends to cross all of the borders. These are related to Melody, Rhythm and Harmony.All Western Music is made up of the same 12 tones. They may be organized in different ways called scales or modes, but the 12 notes in different octaves define our melodic possibilities. So how do we get so much music out of those 12 notes? The trick is in how we combine them.
Music is made up of logically organized patterns of sound and silence. Very often short repeated patterns, either exact repetitions, or a variation on a motif.
A good singable melody will move logically by steps and skips, relate to a tonal center, create and resolve tension, and use pattern repetition and variation. Long melodies are built combining shorter melodic phrases or motifs that lead smoothly to one another. These short melodic elements often appear in 4 bar sections.
In Western Music melodic phrases are generally multiples of 2. You can combine them in almost any way, 4,8,12,16 bar phrases are not uncommon. You can then begin to combine short melodic phrases logically so that they form longer phrases.
By using repetition, steps and skips moving in either direction between the notes, you can create pleasing musical patterns. Combine that with an interesting rhythm and you are well on your way to creating a good melody.
Melody should have motion, meaning it should feel like it is propelling you forward logically. The contour or line of the melody should move up or down, not stay static.
For a feeling of moving up, the ending note of the phrase should be a fourth or more above the starting note. For a downward feel, the last note of the phrase should be lower than the first. It is OK to have a melodic phrase that starts and ends on the same note, but make the middle of the phrase the high or low point.
Tension & Release: A good melody builds tension, which makes things interesting, and then releases it so it feels resolved. One way to do that is to divide the melody into sections; the first part builds the tension, or creates a feeling of motion, while the second part resolves that sense of urgency and creates a feeling of closure.
The fundamentals of developing an extended melody are :
1.) Repetition of a short melodic idea or riff 2.) Variation of the idea : Changing the rhythm or melody notes or adding melodic embellishments 3.) Resolution of the idea: Answering or finishing the thought. A complete resolution generally ends on the root or 1, but a partial resolution can be the 5 or 3.
Notice how music is generally a series of repeated melodic and/or rhythmic patterns. This makes it easier for us to remember and recognize, and our ear welcomes the symmetry inherent in the repetition. In fact it often becomes the Hook, or most memorable part of the song. But, too much of the exact same thing gets boring, so there are a number of ways to vary the repetition to make it less obvious. Repeat the rhythmic pattern with different pitches.
Repeat the melodic line starting on a different note.
Repeat only a part of the phrase
Play the melody backwards or upside down
Melodic Rhythm:This is the way you subdivide the measures or bars. It refers to how long you hold a note or a rest and it is what creates the patterns of sound and silence that help make music interesting. Effective melodic rhythm needs action and repose, movement and stillness. The movement can be created by a succession of short notes while the repose can be created by longer notes or silence. The goal is our old friend Tension & Release. Too much quick motion feels overly frenetic, while too little motion is static and boring. Its about balance. The sense of movement should be appropriate to the style of song you are writing. Remember, good music is made up of the judicious use of sound AND silence.
A good melody does not need to start on the ONE of a key signature, nor does its melody need to revolve around that pitch.Generally the Third or the Fifth degrees of the scale will also work as a tonal center. Which ever degree you choose as your tonal center, make sure you end there. Your melodic tonal center should relate to the key signature, not each chord played.
These are some basic musical terms and notations that you need to become familiar with.