Melody is a fashionable arranged linear sequence the pitched sounds the the listener perceives together a single entity.

You are watching: A melody consists of a succession of:

Melody is just one of the most straightforward elements of music. A note is a sound through a specific pitch and also duration. Wire a series of note together, one after ~ the other, and also you have actually a melody. However the melody the a piece of music isn’t just any type of string the notes. It’s the notes that catch your ear together you listen; the line the sounds most important is the melody. First of all, a melodic line of a piece of music is a succession of note that consist of a melody. Extra notes, such together trills and also slides, that room not part of the key melodic line yet are added to the melody either by the composer or the demonstrate to make the melody more complex and exciting are dubbed ornaments or embellishments.

Examples the Melody:


“Pop walk the Weasel” melody  Play (help·info)


 Melody indigenous Anton Webern‘s Variations for orchestra, Op. 30  Play (help·info)

There space some usual terms supplied in discussions that melody that you may discover it valuable to know. Below are some much more concepts that are connected with melody.

The shape or contour of a Melody

A melody that stays on the exact same pitch gets boring pretty quickly. As the melody progresses, the pitches may go up or down progressively or quickly. One can picture a line the goes up steeply when the melody all of sudden jumps come a much greater note, or that goes down progressively when the melody tenderness falls. Such a line gives the contour or form of the melodic line. You can frequently get a good idea the the shape of this line by looking at the melody together it is composed on the staff, yet you can also hear it as you hear to the music.


Arch shapes (in i beg your pardon the melody rises and also then falls) are easy to uncover in plenty of melodies.

You can also describe the form of a melody verbally. For example, you deserve to speak that a “rising melody” or of an “arch-shaped”phrase.

Listen: Ascending, Descending, and Arch

Composer Richard Strauss’s Don Juan is a great example of ascending melody:

“Joy to the World” by composer George Frideric Handel prove descending melody:

Composer Dmitri Shostakovich’s romantic exemplifies the arch shape, in i m sorry the melody rises and then falls.

Melodic Motion

Another collection of helpful terms explain how quickly a melody goes up and also down. A melody that rises and also falls slowly, through only small pitch changes in between one note and also the next, is conjunct. One may likewise speak of together a melody in terms of step-wise or scalar motion, because most that the intervals in the melody are half or whole steps or are part of a scale.

A melody that rises and also falls quickly, with large intervals between one note and the next, is a disjunct melody. One may additionally speak of “leaps” in the melody. Plenty of melodies space a mixture of conjunct and also disjunct motion. A melody may display conjunct motion, with little changes in pitch from one note to the next, or disjunct motion, with huge leaps. Plenty of melodies are an interesting, relatively balanced mixture of conjunct and disjunct motion.


Listen: Conjunct and also Disjunct Melody

Start listening at the 2:30 note to Beethoven, “Ode to Joy” native Symphony No. 9 and note how the pitch rises and falls slowly, creating conjunct melody.

A an excellent example the disjunct melody deserve to be discovered in Piazzolla’s, “Spring” tango for violin, cello, and also piano.

Can you tell whether Chopin’s“Nocturne in E-Flat Major,” Op. 9 no. 2 is conjunct, disjunct, or a mix of both?

Melodic Range

Range refers to the distance between the highest and lowest notes found in a provided melody. As soon as a piece of music has wide range, over there is a an excellent distance in between the highest and also lowest pitches heard. Conversely, as soon as a piece of music has actually narrow range the distance between the highest and lowest pitches is reasonably small.

Wide Range

Listen: vast and small Range

As you hear to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, in D Major, first Movement, keep in mind that the piece has a wide range in pitch.

Now hear to Brahms, Violin Concerto in D, 3rd movement, and also note the it’s selection is narrow contrasted to the Brandenburg Concerto.

Melodic Phrases

Melodies are often defined as being consisted of of phrases. A musical phrase is actually a lot like a grammatical phrase. A expression in a sentence (for example, “into the deep, dark forest” or “under that heavy book”) is a team of words that make sense together and express a identify idea, but the phrase is no a complete sentence by itself. A melodic expression is a group of notes the make sense together and also express a identify melodic “idea”, but it takes much more than one expression to make a complete melody.

How perform you clues a phrase in a melody? just as you regularly pause between the various sections in a sentence (for example, when you say, “wherever you go, there you are”), the melody commonly pauses slightly at the finish of every phrase. In vocal music, the musical phrases tend to monitor the phrases and also sentences of the text. Because that example, listen to the phrases in the melody that “The Riddle Song” and also see exactly how they heat up v the 4 sentences in the song.

But even without text, the paragraph in a melody can be an extremely clear as the notes are still grouped into melodic “ideas.”

One method that a composer keeps a item of music amazing is by varying just how strongly the end of each phrase sounds prefer “the end”. By varying elements of the melody, the rhythm, and the harmony, the composer gives the ends of the other phrases more powerful or weaker “ending” feelings. Often, paragraph come in definite pairs, with the very first phrase feeling an extremely unfinished until it is completed by the second phrase, as if the 2nd phrase were answering a concern asked by the first phrase. When phrases come in pairs like this, the first phrase is referred to as the antecedent phrase, and also the second is called the consequent phrase.The valuation of the very first two phrases of “Auld Lang Syne” is the same, but both the melody and also the harmony command the very first phrase to feeling unfinished until it is answer by the 2nd phrase.

Antecedent and also Consequent Phrases


Of course, melodies don’t always divide right into clear, be separated phrases. Often the phrases in a melody will run right into each other, cut each various other short, or overlap. This is among the points that keeps a melody interesting.

Listening Activity: Range, Motion and Contour

Define the melody that this ingredient in regards to range, motion, and also contour. J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto #6, first movement

Motive or Motif

Another term the usually describes a item of melody (although that can likewise refer come a valuation or a chord progression) is motive or “motif”. A motive is a short musical idea – shorter than a expression – that occurs frequently in a piece of music. A motive might only covers a few pitches or maybe divided in smaller sized cells.

The “fate motif” native the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. This is a great example that a brief melodic idea that is supplied in many different means throughout the movement.

Most figures and also motifs are much shorter than phrases, yet some the the leitmotifs that Wagner’s operas space long enough to be taken into consideration phrases. A leitmotif (whether the is a really short cabinet or a lengthy phrase) is connected with a details character, place, thing, or idea in the opera and also may be heard whenever the character is on stage or that idea is crucial part the the plot. Just like other motifs, leitmotifs might be changed when lock return. Because that example, the exact same melody may sound fairly different relying on whether the personality is in love, being heroic, or dying.


A much longer melody that at times keeps reappearing in the music – because that example, in a “theme and also variations” – is often referred to as a theme. Themes typically are at the very least one expression long and often have actually several phrases. Plenty of longer works of music, such as symphony movements, have an ext than one melodic theme.


Theme native Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The track of this template will be very familiar to many people, yet you may want to listen to the entire last motion of the symphony to hear the various ways the Beethoven provides the melody again and also again.

See more: Which Formula Represents An Ionic Compound S, Which Formula Represents An Ionic Compound

The musical scores for movies and television contain themes, which have the right to be developed as in a symphony or may be used really much favor operatic leitmotifs. For example, in the music man Williams created for the Star Wars movies, there space melodic themes the are associated with the main characters. This themes space often finish melodies with plenty of phrases, but a solitary phrase deserve to be taken native the melody and used together a motif. A solitary phrase of Ben Kenobi’s Theme, for example, deserve to remind friend of every the good things he stands for, also if he is not on the movie display screen at the time.