melodic figuration

Melody is Made of Figures, Not Single Notes

Principle #1 in the series, “The 3 Core Principles of Melody” According to the dictionary, a melody is “a succession of single tones organized as an aesthetic whole” (Merriam Webster). So riddle me this: why doesn’t any old succession of tones sound “melodic?” Hmmmm… Could it be that the “single tones” in a

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melody is made from patterns

Every Melody You Know Comes From Just 24 Melodic Figures

Melody relies on patterns. Every string of notes that listeners accept as a melody is full of them! These musical patterns – a.k.a. “melodic figures” – are present in countless other melodies. For over 30 years, I’ve cataloged melodic figures by shape, type, and behavior. Expect to see a “Field Guide to Melodic

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fundamentals of melody

The 3 Core Principles of Melody

This addresses the source of ENERGY in melody: harnessing its interior vitality. Here, the focus is on meter – the most powerful force in music. Learn to use meter to control melodic momentum. It’s the key to achieving a wide range of expressive effects. The first bit of Eleanor Rigby has only two

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Don’t Stand So Close to Me

In 1980, a rock band called The Police recorded a song about a raging infection and the social distancing it required. “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” tells the story of an adolescent girl who becomes lovesick over her teacher. But rather than giving appropriate guidance, a person in authority offers happy-talk in

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melodic building blocks are like legos

Melodic Building Blocks: Musical Legos?

In this blog, we take two melodic building blocks from “London Bridge” and “play with them like Legos” to make several new melodies in a variety of styles. To begin, let’s hear what a master songwriter has to say about “musical Legos.” Irving Berlin wrote over 1500 songs, the scores for 20 original Broadway

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melody as predictable as love

Great Melodies Have Both Predictable and Unpredictable Parts.

Principle #3 in the series, “The 3 Core Principles of Melody.”  Composers not only need to know when to give listeners what they expect, we need to know when not to. Unless our music is predictable, listeners won’t be able to follow along. But if there are no parts that take an unexpected

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