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

Part Four: Melody


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

  • A melody is a series of pitches.

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


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

  • 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

  • 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

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


Example #1

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Example #2

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Example #3

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


Example #4

  • Range:

  • Shape:

  • Movement:


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

  • 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

  • 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


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

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


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