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Parmita Group

Elijah Hall
Elijah Hall

Melody ((HOT))

A melody (from Greek μελῳδία, melōidía, "singing, chanting"),[1] also tune, voice or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include other musical elements such as tonal color. It is the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.



Melody is to music what a scent is to the senses: it jogs our memory. It gives face to form, and identity and character to the process and proceedings. It is not only a musical subject, but a manifestation of the musically subjective. It carries and radiates personality with as much clarity and poignancy as harmony and rhythm combined. As such a powerful tool of communication, melody serves not only as protagonist in its own drama, but as messenger from the author to the audience.

Given the many and varied elements and styles of melody "many extant explanations [of melody] confine us to specific stylistic models, and they are too exclusive."[4] Paul Narveson claimed in 1984 that more than three-quarters of melodic topics had not been explored thoroughly.[5]

Melodies in the 20th century "utilized a greater variety of pitch resources than ha[d] been the custom in any other historical period of Western music." While the diatonic scale was still used, the chromatic scale became "widely employed."[4] Composers also allotted a structural role to "the qualitative dimensions" that previously had been "almost exclusively reserved for pitch and rhythm". Kliewer states, "The essential elements of any melody are duration, pitch, and quality (timbre), texture, and loudness.[4] Though the same melody may be recognizable when played with a wide variety of timbres and dynamics, the latter may still be an "element of linear ordering."[4]

The two basic elements of music that define melody are pitch and rhythm. Melody is a succession of pitches in rhythm. The melody is usually the most memorable aspect of a song, the one the listener remembers and is able to perform.

It is absolutely essential to the craft of songwriting that the writer sing the melody, feel it in the voice, reach for the high notes, and focus on experiencing the relationship between the lyric and the melody. Much of melody writing done for instruments, especially for the piano, is difficult or impossible to sing. The following are to be considered when writing for the voice:

The lead sheet format reflects the importance of the melody. Harmonic voicings, texture, and orchestration are not found in lead sheets. The lead sheet solely contains the melody, the lyric, and the harmony notated with chord symbols.

4. Each syllable of the lyric should be placed directly under the note or notes to which it is sung. Spacing of the music is determined by the length of words and syllables. Improper alignment of lyric to melody is a common mistake that should be avoided, as shown here:

1. A theme is a melody that is not necessarily complete in itself except when designed for a set of variations but is recognizable as a pregnant phrase or clause. A fugue subject is a theme; the expositions and episodes of a sonata are groups of themes.

4. Ornaments, or graces (small melodic devices such as grace notes, appoggiaturas, trills, slides, tremolo, and slight deviations from standard pitch), may be used to embellish a melody. Melodic ornamentation is present in most European music and is essential to Indian, Arabic, Japanese, and much other non-Western music.

In this article, we'll be tackling all of your burning questions like, "What is melody in music?", "How do music melodies work?", and help you identify key melodies throughout history, ranging from classical music to pop music. Let's dive into it!

In its simplest form, the definition of melody boils down to a sequence of musical notes played in a particular order, called a music phrase or a melodic phrase. Anything that creates distinct music notes can create a melody. Melodies can be made up of the same, single note played multiple times, or multiple notes, usually within some sort of scale as discussed below.

For example, when you sing or play "happy birthday" it's still the same melody. The way that the main phrases are sung in "happy birthday" remains the same since the melodic line is passed from one person to another.

When you "can't get a song out of your head", you're most likely referring to the main melodic line. Vocal melodies, especially in pop music, are designed to be sticky, which is what makes them so important. Melodies are a huge part of what makes music memorable. While there are multiple elements that make up a single melody, a well-crafted melodic musical phrase is designed to feel effortless.

Melodies usually stand out from the rest of the piece by offering new ideas to the musical composition. For example, when a band performs a song, the drums, bass parts, and backing piano will more or less continue to play similar parts throughout the entire song according to the chord progression. The vocalist, on the other hand, takes charge of the melody.

The vocalist may use some of the same notes from the chord progression, but their part naturally stands out amongst the rest of the instrumental backing since their vocal music melody constantly introduces new, melodic phrases to a piece of music. The listener perceives the melody more easily since it sticks out amongst the rest of the chords and instrumentation being played at any current time.

More often than not, melodies utilize multiple pitches to add interest and create more of a melodic arc in a piece of music. However, there are plenty of ways to successfully write a melody, so don't try to get hung up on one element on its own.

The contour or the shape of the melody is pretty self-explanatory. Quite literally, this is the shape of the sequence of notes or melody in a piece of music. You can see certain arcs while writing melodic phrases on sheet music.

Melodic range refers to the distance between the lowest and highest pitches in a melody. The range will limit which musicians can sing or sometimes play a particular melody. A narrow range is easier to perform while a wider range can be more difficult, but potentially more interesting for the listener as a more complex melody.

This refers to how a melody is built. If it's a lyrical melody, a melodic line can be structured around a lyric or phrase. Other melodies may be built around a certain rhythm or pattern within a piece of music.

A motif is simply a section or part of a melody that's repeated throughout the piece. For example, the chorus of a song likely has a lot of melody motifs that show up time and time again throughout the piece of music.

Phrasing or phrases in a song can feel like a musical sentence. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that a phrase needs to be a complete sentence, but a musical phrase speaks to the way a melody is spaced out over a line of music. A good example is in "Happy Birthday". We sing "Happy birthday to you," and pause before singing the next set of lyrics.

Therefore, phasing speaks to the number of words and pitches in a melody. It's not uncommon for four phrases to make up a chorus in popular music, or for phrases to wrap up at the end of a measure. Phrases help popular music keep cadence. A group of phrases will often hold or repeat the same or similar melodies.

Rhythm speaks to the way that you're expressing a particular melody. There are many different ways to articulate the same set of notes. Rhythm can tell you what type of note your melody is played on, and what it sounds like in between each of the notes in your melody.

Melodies and harmonies are often confused with one another when they are in fact, entirely different things. The biggest difference is that melodies stand on their own. Harmonies are played in relation to a particular melody, usually with a specific pattern of intervals to create a sonically pleasing combination of notes.

Harmony may also be referred to as a counter melody. Typically, harmonies support the original melody without detracting too much attention from the main melodic phrase. Harmony can be higher or lower in pitches than a melody.

You'll often find harmonies are sung by backing vocalists, while a melody is sung by the main vocalist. In terms of vocal parts, alto singers are more likely to sing harmonies while soprano singers are known to take on the melody in most cases.

Conjunct melody is when a melodic phrase rises and lowers in pitch usually in a stepwise fashion. A conjunct motion could be as simple as moving up and down a scale written as the backing melody of a composition. A great example of conjunct motion can be found in "Ode to Joy". Notice how the notes of the melody move in a stepwise motion seamlessly from one note to another, creating the central melodies throughout the composition.

Disjunct motion is characterized by large skips throughout the melody, often making larger intervals skipping past adjacent notes. You can find great examples of disjunct motion in renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner, which can be difficult for novice musicians and vocalists to sing since there are a lot of melodic skips.

Enter classical music, we start to see more variation, especially in terms of songs that are more upbeat with the introduction of the harpsichord. We can start to see melodic variations, with melody straying further away from the instrumental backing with the introduction of classical music pieces played by composers like Mozart:

While songs within the same genres of music may construct a melody in a particular way, there really are no bounds since a melody is just a single aspect of music. As you learn how to write a melody, let yourself experiment and tinker with plenty of different possibilities. There's no one right way to make music. Enjoy crafting your own melody lines! 041b061a72


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