The elements of music
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The Elements of Music. Part Four: Melody. Learning Goal/Success Criteria. Learning Goal I will learn about melody as an element of music. Success Criteria: I will be able to determine the range, shape, and movement of a song using proper terminology. Melody.

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The Elements of Music

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The elements of music

The Elements of Music

Part Four: Melody


Learning goal success criteria

Learning Goal/Success Criteria

  • Learning Goal

    • I will learn about melodyas an element of music.

  • Success Criteria:

    • I will be able to determine the range, shape, and movementof a song using proper terminology.


Melody

Melody

  • A melody is a series of pitches.

  • A melody can be described by its range, shape, and its movement.


Range

Range

  • The range of a melody is the distance between a melody’s highest note and lowest note.

  • The range of a melody can be narrow, medium, or wide.


Shape

Shape

  • A melody can move upward in pitch, downward in pitch, or not change pitch at all.

    • A melody can start high and then go low (descend)

    • A melody can start low and then go high (ascend)

    • A melody can start and end on the same note and then move anywhere in between (the shape of a melody would then be a wave)

    • Hint: Most pop singers sing in a “wave” shape.


Movement

Movement

  • The notes within a melody move either by steps or by leaps.

  • Melodies in popular music have mostly steps and a few leaps. A melody with more steps and fewer leaps is easer to sing and more memorable to the ear.

    • If a melody mostly steps, we call it conjunct.

    • If a melody is mostly leaps, we call it disjunct.


Musical examples

Musical Examples

  • Listen to the following melodies. Determine the range, shape, and movement of each melody.


Example 1

Example #1

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Example 2

Example #2

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Example 3

Example #3

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Example 4

Example #4

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Repetition

Repetition

  • Repetition is a common feature in melodies. If a piece of music is repetitious, people will be able to remember it easily.

  • The image on the right has the same note repeating over and over again.


Improvisation

Improvisation

  • Many singers and instrumentalists will choose to improvise on a melody to make it more interesting.

  • Improvisation is to invent, compose, perform, or embellish a piece of music with little preparation.


Examples 5

Examples 5

  • The US National anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, is one of the most improvised songs of all time.

  • Watch the video file of the version by the famous jazz musician Bleeding Gums Murphy. How does he improvise on the melody?


Star spangled banner

Star Spangled Banner


Lack of melody

Lack of Melody

  • Finally, many pieces of music may not have a melody at all!

  • Example 6:

    • Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima (1959) by Krzysztof Penderecki


Putting it all together

Putting It All Together

  • Choose a song and make comments about the musical elements on the last page of your handout.


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