Melody Project


In this project, I constructed two melodies with the goal of implementing basic composition techniques to create a short, eight measure riff. I started out by making a an eight measure pre-composition with only previous knowledge to use. Following that, I went through a process of listening to other melodies and learning about melody to create a second, better-grounded melody that features basic composition tools.

My First Melody

For this stage of the project, I made an eight-bar melody in the key of C Major. I was limited to only only individual notes compared to chords.

Lesson Melody

What this step revealed to me was how simple a melody could be. I approached the project originally in a more complicated fashion, which I should have not. No parts were challenging in this step, but it definitely brought up some new ideas for the next step.

One of My Favorite Melodies

  • Key: C major
  • Tonic: C
  • The tension in this excerpt is mostly in the trumpet part in measures 6-9. There is a repeated pattern of eighth notes in this section that gives the makes this part of the song a classic. 
  • The whole 8-bar section of “In the Mood” being studied is a call-and-response between trombones and trumpets. Saxophones play the beginning with the trombones, but we are just looking at the brass for this particular section. This intro leads into a call-and-response with the saxophones and brass.


My Second Melody

  • Key: C Major
  • Tonic: 
  • Tension: Measures 4-7
    • E (Mediant)
    • F, G, and B (Subdominant. Dominant, Leading Tone)
  • Repetition:
    • Measures 1/2/6
  • Variation:
    • 3/4
    • 5/6
  • In this melody, I created two-phrase “stages” to construct a short hook. By this I mean I used repetition and variation. In terms of contrast, the two halves of the period share different qualities such as phrase #1 has more internal variation while phrase #2 is very similar throughout.

Melody Composition Terms

  • Theme: A long, flowing melodic idea.
  • Motive: A short, rhythmic idea (Beethoven’s 5th).
  • Period: 8 measure musical sentence.
  • Phrase: 4 measure sub-period.
  • Antecedent (Question) Phrase: First 4 measures of a period.
  • Consequent (Answer) Phrase: Second 4 measures of a period.
  • Scale Degrees (C Major Scale)
    • Tonic: C (1 , 8) – Stability and resolve.
    • Supertonic, Mediant, Submediant: D, E, A (2 , 3 , 6) – Moderate tension, useful for transitions and carrying on an idea.
    • Subdominant, Dominant, Leading Tone: F, G, B (4 , 5 , 7) – Causes the most tension, leads to tonic.
  • Steps: Any movement using half or whole steps.
  • Leaps: Any movement using intervals larger than a whole step.
  • Conjunct motion: Melody built primarily out of steps.
  • Disjunct motion: Melody builit primarily out of leaps.
  • Repetition: Repeated material (i.e. motive) used to create a link between two phrases of the period.
  • Contrast: Two phrases that contain contrasting material to create tension and interest.
  • Variation: Half way between contrast and repetition. The two phrases include some recognizable material and some varied material (i.e. taking ideas up an octave).

What I Learned and Problems I Solved

Although I had already been familiar with a lot of the concepts featured in this project,

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