Music Theory: Understanding Melody

For you learning pleasure, here is a series of instructional videos on melody. Please watch the videos and then, if you like, send me your comments or questions by using the contact phone.

Introduction to Melody Writing

Progress Check
1. Before writing a melody it helps to give yourself some ______________(complete the sentence)
2. After a big leap in one direction the melody, a rule of thumb is that the melody should _______________.
3. Melody normally ends on the ___________.
4. Distinctive elements that happen in the first part of a melody are best…
a) Avoided in the second part.
b) Repeated

– – –
Answers
1. Guide Posts or structure.  For example, decide on the chords you will use (harmonic progression).
2. step in the opposite direction of the lead. If the melody leaps up, it then steps down.
3. Melody normally ends on the tonic (key note). Hey, in modern music this is not always the case! It may not even end on a note of the tonic chord!
4.  Distinctive elements that happen in the first part of a melody are best used again in the second party.  This gives the melody a sense of unity.


Matching tones to Chords


What is Melody? Part 1


Melody

What is Melody? Part 2


What is Melody Part 3


More about Melody by Bernstein


Goodal on Melody Part 1

The series of videos below about melody by Howard Goodall give a nice general overview of melody in music history. It’s filled with elegant examples from England. Howard also, discusses melody in different cultures and in different periods of music. Listen especially for a discussion of the pentatonic scale and how it is used in a lot popular music. Note that the pentatonic scale can be found on the black notes of the piano, but can also occur starting on any note, white or black. The key to understanding the pentatonic scale is to know that it uses these tones of the major scale: 1,2,3,5,6 — note that tones 4 and 7 are omitted.


Goodall Part 2


Goodall Part 3


Goodall Part 4

This video starts by with a song by Handel and illustrates both major and minor modes can be used in a single tune. The video also relates Mozart and Handel to pop music.


Goodall Part 5

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