seven advantages to composing with melodic figures
Don’t the melodies we love the most seem to move in ways that defy systemization? So why is it that we also sense that there’s an underlying order to melody, even when we can’t quite explain it?
Every melody you know draws from a pool of 24 melodic figures. Learn them, and you notice connections between one melodic situation and another. Melody will no longer seem haphazard or impenetrable.
Do you spend too much time and energy trying to find useful material for your melodies? Working with melodic figures provides an easy way to generate intriguing melodic ideas—ideas you wouldn’t have come up with without working with figures.
Only 24 melodic figures account for every melody you know. But most composers tend to reuse the same 7-10 over and over again. Incorporate even a few of the figures you overlook, and you’ll add new lifeblood into your melodies. Plus, there are several different ways to use each figure, and you are likely overlooking many of them.
Each melodic figure has predictable, less predictable, and unpredictable ways of behaving. And each behavior creates a knowable emotion or effect. Learn them, and you’ll be able to figure out how and why your favorite composers engineer their notes as they do. And you’ll be able to use these insights to bring new life and depth to your own music.
Melodic figuration is not so much the study of melodic patterns themselves as it is learning how those patterns behave and the effects they produce. Each lesson will give you new ways to
- Control the pacing at various points within your melody.
- Dial the complexity up or down.
- Highlight any note within your melody.
- Create plot twists.
- and much more!
Effective melodies practically play themselves.
- How would you like to know which figures sound like they’re wicked hard to play but are actually easy as pie?
- Or how to use the basic principles of figuration to make any note in your melody ultra expressive?
- Or how to set up dramatic plot twists in your melodies?
If you hope to give your performers something they can “say” with utter confidence, you really need to learn melodic figuration!
We become familiar with the most basic patterns of melody in the same way that we learn language: over time, through exposure. Yet most musicians remain oblivious to the existence of melodic figures even though we use them every day. This limits our ability to take full advantage of all that melodic figures can do.
Don’t let this happen to you!