A melody is most simply defined as a series of pitches sounded in succession, however this definition does not explain how melodies are built and also how they function in music. In this ar we will check out the concept of melody in higher detail and also discuss the relationships between melodies and accompaniments, the sounds intended to support and enhance melodies.

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Contour defines the linear motion that a melody up and down. Does it usually ascend or descend? Does the come earlier to the exact same pitch on which that began? walk the melody use big intervals or little ones?


When melodies move by totality or fifty percent steps (like a scale), this is conjunct motion. Movement in larger intervals is referred to as disjunct motion. Many melodies incorporate the two, as in this example from "Twinkle, Twinkle". In this melody the contour begins with a leap upwards (disjunct motion), climate a gradual descent using smaller intervals (conjunct motion) that finishes ~ above the original pitch.

Melodic contour is also important in the history of music notation. Before our current system of notation was developed, musicians sometimes wrote under the edge of a melody in order to remember it. End time, composers and performers started including horizontal lines come make certain that once the exact same pitch went back it would certainly be created at the very same height, i beg your pardon made your contour drawings much more specific, much more accurate, and also easier to read. They began with only one line, however they soon began adding more. Occasionally the currently were also color-coded, making use of red because that C and also yellow for G, because that example. Color-coding fell out of practice, yet musicians kept including lines till there were 5 staff lines, together in our modern-day notation system.


Range describes the total variety of pitches encompassed in the melody: exactly how high and low the melody goes. If the score go not suggest which voice or instrument must be offered to carry out the music, the variety can be offered to aid determine which voices and also instruments are appropriate for use. For example, if the range includes pitches that room too high or as well low for a voice climate it need to be play on an instrument. For an ext on tool ranges, watch Timbre.


A motive or motif is the shortest possible melodic unit and also may consist of as few as two various pitches, as in Beethoven"s fifth Symphony.

Motives are the musical identical of a capture phrase or slogan and also are often used in that volume in commercials. An alert the engine on "by Mennen" and "Hot Pockets" in this commercials:


Motives may also be integrated into a bigger melodic unit: a phrase. Phrases room the musical tantamount of sentences, clauses, or lines of poetry. They can be divided by commas in lyrics (for vocal music), breaths (for voices and also wind instruments), rests (silences), or merely by the form of the melody. Phrases tend to it is in lyrical (singable, song-like) also if they are performed by instruments, and also they usually happen in continual lengths.

In music analysis, paragraph are figured out by lower case letters: "a" because that the first, "b" because that the second, etc. If the phrase repeats, the letter is offered again. Also, phrases have tendency to end with cadences, which room melodic and also harmonic recipe that bring a feeling of closure come the phrase.

Antecedent and Consequent Phrases

Two important and interrelated varieties of phrases space antecedent and consequent phrases. Antecedent and consequent phrases occur when one expression seems to ask a concern (the antecedent) and also the other seems come answer that (the consequent). The antecedent expression sounds unfinished or unresolved when it ends because its final pitch is not the tonic pitch. The consequent phrase then responds to the antecedent and finishes through a stronger sense of resolution, regularly by landing on the tonic pitch.

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Idiomatic Melodies

When melodies room written particularly for a specific instrument or voice, the composer will capitalize on the strengths and also avoid the weaknesses of the instrument or voice. This is called composing idiomatically. Because that example, part melodies are much more suited to tools than voices: those that use big leaps (intervals) between pitches, those that are too high or also low for voices, or those with an extremely fast passages, for example. Voices, on the other hand, are frequently considered much more expressive than instruments, particularly because they room uniquely qualified of performing lyrics. So, once composers are writing melodies, they consider these strengths and also weaknesses and readjust their compositions accordingly.

Music Notation navard

This intuitive glossary is a great resource for learning to check out music.


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"Music is nothing else but wild sounds civilized into time and tune." - thomas Fuller


"After silence, that which come nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

"Music in the soul have the right to be heard by the universe." - Lao Tzu

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and also philosophy." - Ludwig valve Beethoven

"Music is the activity of sound to with the spirit for the education of the virtue." - Plato

"Music expresses the which cannot be said and also on which that is difficult to be silent." - Victor Hugo

"Music is naught else yet wild sound civilized into time and also tune." - cutting board Fuller