'MELODY' is defined as 'a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying' or 'the aspect of musical composition concerned with the arrangement of single notes to form a satisfying sequence'.

Definitions taken from the Oxford English Dictionary at https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/melody (5th August 2019)

  • Shape

We can describe the shape of a melody in various ways to analyse its movement within a piece of music. A melody line can move by steps to its nearest neighbour note or intervalic leaps and we can describe this basic look at a melody as either conjunct (stepwise movement) or disjunct (big interval leaps). However, this doesn't accurate explain a melodies shape but provides an overview of its function. Melodies can ascend and descend in direction following either a scalic pattern (going through the notes of a scale), it could be diatonic (using notes within a key/scale) or use chromaticism.

  • Sequence

A melody can form a sequence, a musical idea that is a group of notes following the same pattern however at different pitches. Sequences can rise or fall, we call these ascending and descending sequences.

  • Motif

A motif is a musical idea that is repeated within a piece of music. These phrases provide an important theme to the piece, they can be modified for variation.

  • Decoration

Often called ornamentation, these musical techniques are used to embellish a melody line to enhance and add interest. We do not compose melodic phrase with decoration.
They're several decoration techniques we can use:
Trill - a rapid movement between either the note above or below played in quick bursts and commonly used near cadence points. This notated by either written out or by a "tr" above the note.
Turn - this involves the main note then the note above and below. Often notated as a sideways "S"
Appoggiatura - described as a leaning note, this often takes half of duration of the note value of the note it is attached too. The notation looks like a small semiquaver note before the intended note.
Acciaccatura - known as a crushed note, this is a rapid note just before the actual note. Notated similar to an appoggiatura however with a crossed line through the stem of the quaver note.
Grace Notes - written in smaller notation, this indicates a rapid selection of notes before the main note. I f a single grace note is written it is usually interpreted to be played like an acciaccatura.

  • Phrase Lengths

Balanced or "periodic" phrase lengths are pairs of phrases of equal lengths and usually even of 4 bars each. Balanced phrases are commonly found in the Classical era.

  • Tessitura

This describes the range of a melody from the lowest to highest pitches used. A narrow tessitura will only use a small range of notes such maybe an octave in distance however, a wide tessitura would span over multiple octaves from the lowest to highest notes.





Phrase Lengths


Words/Text Setting