What is Melody?
Melody is a series of notes that are place at different pitch creating a tune. When you hear a saxophone playing “Amazing Grace” you will recognize the song because of the tune or melody. A good melody has a beginning, development and an ending. Some important aspects of melody are tonality (the key of the music), intervals, phrasing, articulation and cadence.
A melody is created when notes are assigned one after the other creating movements called intervals. An interval is the distance in pitch between two notes. For example, when an individual sings the major scale (doh, ra, me, fa, soh, lah, te, doh), they are singing from one interval to the next. In other words, “doh” to “ra” and “me” to “fa” are intervals.
In the melody of a song, the distance between some notes can be small while there may be other notes in the song that have a larger distance between them. The smaller distance or intervals are called steps while the larger intervals are called leaps.
Steps are notes that falls immediately next to each other according to pitch. A perfect example of steps are (doh, ra, me, fa, so). Notice that each note falls adjacent to each other (naturally come right after each other in music).
Leaps are any interval larger than a step. For example, (doh, me, so). You should notice that “ra” and “fa” are skipped out of the melody. So therefore, when you move from note to another skipping out one or more tones (notes) it is called a leap.
There are several songs with steps, but one popular song that is dominated by steps is “Mary had a Little Lamb”.
The notes used for “Mary had a Little Lamb” are naturally beside each other in the musical alphabet.
(When you move from C to D and D to E you are moving in steps)
There are lots of songs that have leaps in them, however you hardly find songs that is composed with only leaps as the melody. But the song “Amazing Grace” has a number of leaps in it. Look at some parts of the melody for a better understanding.
(A number of letters are skipped out in this song, hence forming leaps. Example G to C, E to C and D to high G)
Even though the concept of melody as an element of music is very wide, one can say that melody is a combination of both steps and leaps used at different pitches. And so the way in which we use steps and leaps are very important in musical composition.
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