Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!

Four distinct ways a melody can move


Recently I’ve come to the realization that the typical melody has four simple traits that we can easily look at and figure out --- whether we’re learning a new tune or coming up with our own new composition.

  1. It can follow the scale.  Perhaps the most famous pieces that use scale motion almost exclusively are Handel/Mason’s ‘Joy to the World’ and Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ --- look how they move around almost totally on the scale!
  1. It can follow the chords.  Lots of pieces do this, and the opening movement of Mozart’s ‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ is a classic example.
  1. It can make big jumps.  A charming and challenging feature in many good melodies is a leap, at least an interval of a fourth, and often much more.  I discussed this in my blog post about Beatles ballads[embed=videolink]
  1. It uses various kinds of repetition.  A series of notes of any length may be exactly repeated, or it may repeat starting on a different scale step, or… there are all sorts of creative possibilities for this!  But repeating in one way or another is a very important part of most music.

Folk tunes are wonderful examples of how these four things mix and match to create a new organism.  Every song is a different combination of these elements --- check them out!

When I start a new tune myself I often informally analyze the way these four characteristics figure into it --- whether it’s a tune I’m learning or one I’m composing.  I take a pencil sometimes and mark how the various sets of notes repeat or are similar, and it’s amazing how the structure comes into form!  I encourage you as a musician to try whatever works with your own goals.

Arrangement ideas from favorite sources

Comments

 
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Please Note: This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

Browser settings can be adjusted to control cookies. Failure to make adjustments constitutes your agreement to their usage. Learn more

I understand

Information about Cookies

A cookie is a small piece of data (usually a text file) that a website asks your browser to store on your computer or mobile device. It enables the website to remember your actions and preferences (such as login, language, font size and other display preferences) over a period of time, so you don’t have to keep re-entering them whenever you come back to the site or browse from one page to another. Most browsers support cookies, but users can set their browsers to decline them and can delete them whenever they like. Cookies can be used to collect and store user data while connected to provide you with requested services. More information about cookies can be found at http://www.aboutcookies.org.

In addition to cookies that remember your preferences mentioned above, cookies are used for the purpose of purchasing items off this website, and for login and user profile details should you provide them by creating an account or signing up for the blog posts or newsletter.

Third party cookies are also used on this site. Specifically, Google Analytics is used on this site -- a popular web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies to help us analyze how users use this site. It counts the number of visitors and tells us things about their behavior overall – such as the typical length of stay on the site or the average number of pages a user views.

The information generated by the cookie about your use of our website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of our website, compiling reports on website activity and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage.

Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google's behalf. Google undertakes not to associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.

If you have Adobe Flash installed on your computer (most computers do) and utilize audio or video players, Google Analytics will try to store some additional data on your computer. This data is known as a Local Shared Object or Flash cookie. This helps us to analyze the popularity of our media files.

Finally, this website makes use of Google Maps. Google Maps is used to provide locations for Timothy Seaman's performances. In clicking on a performance location, you can allow or deny Google Maps knowledge of your location for purposes of getting directions from your location to the event site.

You can control and/or delete cookies as you wish – for details, see aboutcookies.org. You can delete all cookies that are already on your computer and you can set most browsers to prevent them from being placed. If you do this, however, you may have to manually adjust some preferences every time you visit a site and some services and functionalities may not work.

Your failure to control and/or delete cookies for this site constitutes your acceptance of cookies as outlined above.