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This article is about melody in music. For other senses of this word, see Melody (disambiguation).
"Melodic" redirects here. For the online music magazine, see Melodic (magazine).
"Foreground (music)" redirects here. For more specific musical uses, see Structural level.
A bar from J. S. Bach's Fugue No. 17 in A-flat, BWV 862, from The Well-Tempered Clavier (Part I), an example of counterpoint.About this sound Play  The two voices (melodies) on each staff can be distinguished by the direction of the beams.
About this sound Voice 4 , About this sound Voice 3 ,
About this sound Voice 2 , About this sound Voice 1 

A melody (from Greek μελῳδία, melōidía, "singing, chanting"),[1] also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.

Melodies often consist of one or more musical phrases or motifs, and are usually repeated throughout a composition in various forms. Melodies may also be described by their melodic motion or the pitches or the intervals between pitches (predominantly conjunct or disjunct or with further restrictions), pitch range, tension and release, continuity and coherence, cadence, and shape.

The true goal of music—its proper enterprise—is melody. All the parts of harmony have as their ultimate purpose only beautiful melody. Therefore the question of which is the more significant, melody or harmony, is futile. Beyond doubt, the means is subordinate to the end.

Elements[edit]

Given the many and varied elements and styles of melody "many extant explanations [of melody] confine us to specific stylistic models, and they are too exclusive."[3] Paul Narveson claimed in 1984 that more than three-quarters of melodic topics had not been explored thoroughly.[4]

The melodies existing in most European music written before the 20th century, and popular music throughout the 20th century, featured "fixed and easily discernible frequency patterns", recurring "events, often periodic, at all structural levels" and "recurrence of durations and patterns of durations".[3]

Melodies in the 20th century "utilized a greater variety of pitch resources than ha[d] been the custom in any other historical period of Western music." While the diatonic scale was still used, the chromatic scale became "widely employed."[3] Composers also allotted a structural role to "the qualitative dimensions" that previously had been "almost exclusively reserved for pitch and rhythm". Kliewer states, "The essential elements of any melody are duration, pitch, and quality (timbre), texture, and loudness.[3] Though the same melody may be recognizable when played with a wide variety of timbres and dynamics, the latter may still be an "element of linear ordering"[3]

Examples[edit]

Melody from Anton Webern's Variations for orchestra, Op. 30 (pp. 23–24)[5] About this sound Play 

Different musical styles use melody in different ways. For example:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott. μελῳδ-ία. "Melodia". A Greek–English Lexicon (Perseus project). 
  2. ^ Forte, Allen (1979). Tonal Harmony in Concept & Practice, p. 203. ISBN 0-03-020756-8.
  3. ^ a b c d e Kliewer, Vernon (1975). "Melody: Linear Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music", Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music, pp. 270–301. Wittlich, Gary (ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-049346-5.
  4. ^ Narveson, Paul (1984). Theory of Melody. ISBN 0-8191-3834-7.
  5. ^ Marquis, G. Weston (1964). Twentieth Century Music Idioms, p. 2. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Inglewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

Further reading[edit]

  • Apel, Willi. Harvard Dictionary of Music, 2nd ed., p. 517–19.
  • Edwards, Arthur C. The Art of Melody, p. xix–xxx.
  • Holst, Imogen (1962/2008). Tune, Faber and Faber, London. ISBN 0-571-24198-0.
  • Smits van Waesberghe, Joseph (nl) (1955). A Textbook of Melody: A course in functional melodic analysis, American Institute of Musicology.
  • Szabolcsi, Bence (1965). A History Of Melody, Barrie and Rockliff, London.
  • Trippett, David (2013). Wagner's Melodies. Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melody — Please support Wikipedia.
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NPR (blog)
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:42:33 -0700

Across dozens of comments, people agreed 1) that the canonical example of the melody was in "Kung Fu Fighting," 2) the melody also appeared in many other places, and 3) it probably pre-dated Douglas' song. But for weeks, no one could name an ...
 
Times of India
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:54:40 -0700

CHANDIGARH: Students of Institute of Blind, Sector 26, sang "bhajans" during Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Maharashtra Bhawan in Sector 19 on Tuesday. The students were invited to perform during the 10-day Ganeshotsav. "It is the 50th year of ...
 
Gizmodo
Sun, 31 Aug 2014 14:00:00 -0700

Our first "read" is actually a listen: NPR's Kat Chow investigates the "Kung Fu Fighting" melody, the nine-note musical phrase that's a shorthand reference to Asia in movies, TV, and music. You're probably most familiar with it from Carl Douglas's song ...

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Mon, 01 Sep 2014 03:30:00 -0700

According to our dad, the football season is now underway again. It's also transfer deadline day today. None of this stuff means anything to us, but we're sure the #lads out there are loving life. Much like we were yesterday, when we popped along to ...

Country Weekly (blog)

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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:18:45 -0700

... Song,” we thought it would be an opportune time to revisit “There's No Country Here.” Melody's melody takes a stab at “Bro Country,” with lyrics like, Who told those white boys that they could rap and who told Music Row we want to listen to that crap?

CRIENGLISH.com

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Mon, 01 Sep 2014 05:56:15 -0700

Golden Melody Awards winner David Tao has changed his marital status to married in Taipei. The 45-year-old singer/songwriter tied the knot with 28-year-old Penny Jiang yesterday. David Tao describes his wife as his woman of destiny and claims she has ...

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Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:43:04 -0700

Is is possible, as has been suggested, that both groups independently lifted the melody from Phish's 1989 track "Contact"? And, to dig deeper, hasn't anyone noticed that all of the melodies listed above are subtle takes on Dean Martin's "That's Amore"?
 
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Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:30:00 -0700

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. VOLume is a breakout group of the Men's Chorale at The University of Tennessee. The group was formed in 2009 and has brought much energy and excitement to the choral program with their unique blend of personality and popular ...
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