Melody is a fashionable arranged straight sequence that pitched sounds that the listener perceives as a single entity.

You are watching: A melody consists of a succession of:

Melody is among the most basic elements the music. A keep in mind is a sound v a certain pitch and duration. Cable a series of notes together, one ~ the other, and also you have actually a melody. But the melody the a item of music isn’t just any string of notes. It’s the notes that catch your ear as you listen; the line the sounds most vital is the melody. Very first of all, a melodic line of a piece of music is a succession of notes that comprise a melody. Extra notes, such together trills and also slides, that are not component of the main melodic line but are added to the melody either by the composer or the demonstrate to make the melody more complicated and exciting are referred to as ornaments or embellishments.

Examples the Melody:


“Pop go the Weasel” melody  Play (help·info)


 Melody from Anton Webern‘s Variations for orchestra, Op. 30  Play (help·info)

There room some usual terms supplied in discussions the melody the you may uncover it useful to know. Below are some an ext concepts that are linked with melody.

The form or contour of a Melody

A melody that stays on the exact same pitch gets boring pretty quickly. As the melody progresses, the pitches may go increase or down gradually or quickly. One can picture a line that goes up steeply once the melody all of sudden jumps to a much greater note, or that goes down gradually when the melody gently falls. Together a line gives the contour or form of the melodic line. Girlfriend can regularly get a an excellent idea of the shape of this heat by looking in ~ the melody as it is composed on the staff, yet you can additionally hear it as you listen to the music.


Arch forms (in i m sorry the melody rises and then falls) are straightforward to find in plenty of melodies.

You can likewise describe the form of a melody verbally. Because that example, you can speak the a “rising melody” or of one “arch-shaped”phrase.

Listen: Ascending, Descending, and also Arch

Composer Richard Strauss’s Don Juan is a an excellent example that ascending melody:

“Joy to the World” by composer George Frideric Handel prove descending melody:

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s romance exemplifies the arch shape, in i m sorry the melody rises and then falls.

Melodic Motion

Another set of advantageous terms define how easily a melody walk up and down. A melody the rises and falls slowly, with only tiny pitch changes in between one note and the next, is conjunct. One may likewise speak of such a melody in regards to step-wise or scalar motion, due to the fact that most the the intervals in the melody are half or entirety steps or are part of a scale.

A melody that rises and falls quickly, with large intervals in between one note and the next, is a disjunct melody. One may additionally speak the “leaps” in the melody. Numerous melodies space a mixture that conjunct and disjunct motion. A melody may show conjunct motion, with small changes in key from one note to the next, or disjunct motion, with huge leaps. Plenty of melodies room an interesting, reasonably balanced mixture of conjunct and disjunct motion.


Listen: Conjunct and Disjunct Melody

Start listening at the 2:30 mark to Beethoven, “Ode come Joy” from Symphony No. 9 and also note how the pitch rises and falls slowly, creating conjunct melody.

A good example of disjunct melody can be uncovered in Piazzolla’s, “Spring” tango because that violin, cello, and piano.

Can you tell whether Chopin’s“Nocturne in E-Flat Major,” Op. 9 no. 2 is conjunct, disjunct, or a combination of both?

Melodic Range

Range describes the distance in between the highest and also lowest notes uncovered in a provided melody. Once a piece of music has large range, there is a an excellent distance between the highest and also lowest pitches heard. Conversely, once a item of music has narrow range the distance in between the highest and also lowest pitches is fairly small.

Wide Range

Listen: broad and small Range

As you hear to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, in D Major, 1st Movement, note that the piece has a wide range in pitch.

Now listen to Brahms, Violin Concerto in D, 3rd movement, and also note the it’s variety is narrow compared to the Brandenburg Concerto.

Melodic Phrases

Melodies room often defined as being comprised of phrases. A musical phrase is actually a lot choose a grammatical phrase. A phrase in a sentence (for example, “into the deep, dark forest” or “under that heavy book”) is a team of words that make sense together and also express a identify idea, but the expression is not a complete sentence through itself. A melodic expression is a team of notes the make feeling together and express a definite melodic “idea”, however it takes more than one expression to do a finish melody.

How do you clues a expression in a melody? just as you often pause in between the various sections in a sentence (for example, as soon as you say, “wherever girlfriend go, there you are”), the melody commonly pauses contempt at the end of each phrase. In vocal music, the musical phrases tend to follow the phrases and also sentences of the text. Because that example, listen to the unit volume in the melody the “The Riddle Song” and also see how they line up v the four sentences in the song.

But also without text, the unit volume in a melody have the right to be very clear as the notes room still grouped into melodic “ideas.”

One method that a composer keeps a piece of music amazing is by varying just how strongly the finish of each phrase sounds prefer “the end”. By varying aspects of the melody, the rhythm, and also the harmony, the composer gives the ends of the other phrases more powerful or weaker “ending” feelings. Often, unit volume come in definite pairs, v the an initial phrase feeling an extremely unfinished till it is completed by the 2nd phrase, as if the 2nd phrase to be answering a concern asked through the an initial phrase. When phrases come in pairs favor this, the very first phrase is referred to as the antecedent phrase, and the second is referred to as the consequent phrase.The valuation of the an initial two paragraph of “Auld Lang Syne” is the same, however both the melody and also the harmony command the very first phrase to feeling unfinished till it is reply by the second phrase.

Antecedent and Consequent Phrases


Of course, melodies don’t constantly divide right into clear, be separated phrases. Frequently the phrases in a melody will run into each other, reduced each various other short, or overlap. This is one of the things that keeps a melody interesting.

Listening Activity: Range, Motion and Contour

Define the melody that this ingredient in regards to range, motion, and contour. J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6, very first movement

Motive or Motif

Another term the usually describes a item of melody (although the can additionally refer to a rhythm or a chord progression) is engine or “motif”. A engine is a short musical idea – shorter than a phrase – the occurs regularly in a piece of music. A motive might only consist of a few pitches or maybe separated in smaller cells.

The “fate motif” native the an initial movement that Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. This is a good example that a brief melodic idea that is supplied in plenty of different methods throughout the movement.

Most figures and motifs are much shorter than phrases, yet some that the leitmotifs the Wagner’s operas space long enough to be thought about phrases. A leitmotif (whether the is a very short cabinet or a lengthy phrase) is associated with a certain character, place, thing, or idea in the opera and may be heard whenever the character is on phase or that idea is an important part of the plot. Similar to other motifs, leitmotifs may be changed when lock return. For example, the very same melody may sound rather different depending on whether the character is in love, being heroic, or dying.


A much longer melody the at times keeps reappearing in the music – because that example, in a “theme and also variations” – is often dubbed a theme. Themes generally are at the very least one phrase long and often have actually several phrases. Countless longer works of music, such as symphony movements, have much more than one melodic theme.


Theme from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The track of this design template will be really familiar to many people, however you might want to hear to the entire last movement of the symphony come hear the various ways the Beethoven supplies the melody again and again.

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The musical scores for movies and television contain themes, which have the right to be developed as in a symphony or might be used very much prefer operatic leitmotifs. For example, in the music john Williams created for the Star Wars movies, there room melodic themes that are linked with the key characters. This themes space often complete melodies with plenty of phrases, yet a solitary phrase can be taken indigenous the melody and used together a motif. A solitary phrase the Ben Kenobi’s Theme, because that example, can remind you of every the great things that stands for, also if he is no on the movie display screen at the time.