#1
Ive been thinking lately about what makes something more melodic than something else. For example. a lot of people say that iron maiden are more melodic than metallica, why ?. Is it being able to listen to something and hum along or is it tension and resolution. What is it?
#2
Generally the further apart two consecutive notes are, the less melodic they are. Simple melodies play a couple of unchanging notes and one or two changing ones. For example A D C--- A D B--- A D D--- A D E
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#3
This has been discussed to death - use search bar.
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#4
I would assume that it would involve actually having a melody.
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#5
Quote by DrakeTheOne
I would assume that it would involve actually having a melody.


a very logical assumption.
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#6
Quote by mrbabo91
Ive been thinking lately about what makes something more melodic than something else. For example. a lot of people say that iron maiden are more melodic than metallica, why ?. Is it being able to listen to something and hum along or is it tension and resolution. What is it?


I say, yes.

Im reading a book called "The cognitive analysis of melodic complexity," and basically, no one really knows what melody is, because we dont really understand how it affects the brain. But basically, something melodic will be easier to whistle in your head after youve heard it than something that is not melodic
#7
Quote by mrbabo91
Ive been thinking lately about what makes something more melodic than something else. For example. a lot of people say that iron maiden are more melodic than metallica, why ?. Is it being able to listen to something and hum along or is it tension and resolution. What is it?

A melody is a collection of pitches existing horizontally in time. This is opposed to harmony which is pitches existing vertically at once. Any horizontal musical line is a "melody." In that sense, I think it is odd to say "more melodic," as I see it almost like saying "what makes a sentence more sentence-like?"

What most people mean, though, is what makes one melody more effective then another. As melodies are musical constructs, their effectiveness may be judged by the amount of energy they build up and the amount of energy released at the climax of the melody (just as one may judge the build-up/release of energy in harmonic structures, or rhythmic structures, or dynamics, etc.).

In general, the common conception of melody has motion away from some sort of axis (usually called a tonic), it acquires centrifugal energy as it moves towards the climax, after which it acquires centripetal energy as it releases tension and moves back towards the balance that is its primary axis (tonic).

So, when constructing melodies, think about the amount of energy you want to build up and how much you want to release at the climax. Of course the methods of building and releasing tension are too numerous to explain here, but effective use of these processes is one of the qualities of a successful composer.
#8
Quote by iancmtaylor
Generally the further apart two consecutive notes are, the less melodic they are. Simple melodies play a couple of unchanging notes and one or two changing ones. For example A D C--- A D B--- A D D--- A D E

So, by extension, a purely chromatic melody, one moving only in half steps, would be the most melodic melody possible? If that is not the case, then there must be something else to how effective a melodic line is then simply how close together its consecutive attacks are.
#9
Quote by nmitchell076
So, by extension, a purely chromatic melody, one moving only in half steps, would be the most melodic melody possible? If that is not the case, then there must be something else to how effective a melodic line is then simply how close together its consecutive attacks are.


I see what your getting at... and Victor Wooten has said there are ten parts to music.

1. Notes 2. Articulation 3. Technique 4. Emotion/feel 5. Dynamics 6. Tone 7. Rhythm/tempo 8. phrasing 9. Space 10. Listening

And I believe all of these things go into a melody.
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#10
Well seeing as how this guy is asking what a melody is, saying a melody is generally X, instead of giving ton of info at once, seems to be a good idea. If you want to drown him in knowledge, go ahead.
What do you guys listen to when playing video games?
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#11
Quote by iancmtaylor
Well seeing as how this guy is asking what a melody is, saying a melody is generally X, instead of giving ton of info at once, seems to be a good idea. If you want to drown him in knowledge, go ahead.

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#12
But do you teach him how to fish by telling him everything at once, or step by step?
What do you guys listen to when playing video games?
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Men fapping.


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I'll be leaving your closet now.
#13
Quote by iancmtaylor
But do you teach him how to fish by telling him everything at once, or step by step?

Well... we're on a forum, so we're not really telling him anything. He can sit down and pick through what nmitchell said, like I just did, and it will sufficiently answer the question he asked: "Why?". It's more like reading a series of essays than having an actual dialogue between different people!

#14
you know it when you hear it (kind of like porn).
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#15
Ya, I agree, I just like to start at the ground and make sure the basics are down guud. Besides, I'm bored and this keeps my ADD from going rampant
What do you guys listen to when playing video games?
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#16
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you know it when you hear it (kind of like porn).

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#17
Quote by nmitchell076
A melody is a collection of pitches existing horizontally in time. This is opposed to harmony which is pitches existing vertically at once. Any horizontal musical line is a "melody."


Well, that's not true exactly. For one, melodies are not pitch collections, though they may be derived from them, just as they are (more commonly) from scales and modes. Also a random group of notes as seen horizontally on a staff doesn't necessarily constitute a melody. If though by "musical" line you mean to imply that it includes things like rhythm, note choice, and phrasing then I would agree. But just notes on their own being horizontal..... could just be notes and no melody at all.
Same idea with Harmony. Stack 4 random notes together. Could be harmony, could be something else.


Quote by nmitchell076

In that sense, I think it is odd to say "more melodic," as I see it almost like saying "what makes a sentence more sentence-like?"

the answer to that would be things like grammar, punctuation and phrasing.

^ that sentence is more " sentence-like" than this one...

on over never the going always.

^ those are words, but not a sentence.

Apply concept back to music and melodies.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 14, 2011,
#18
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#19
Quote by iancmtaylor
Well seeing as how this guy is asking what a melody is, saying a melody is generally X, instead of giving ton of info at once, seems to be a good idea. If you want to drown him in knowledge, go ahead.

I don't see how TS is asking what a melody is. He's asking what makes a melody more melodic.
#20
If he knows what a melody is, then why would he ask?
What do you guys listen to when playing video games?
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#21
Quote by iancmtaylor
If he knows what a melody is, then why would he ask?

Well the difference between melody and melodic would be like the difference between good and better. They don't necessarily mean the same thing.

He could very easily understand what makes a melody, but not understand why people claim something is more melodic than another thing.
#22
A melody imo is a series of notes that is put together in a way to express an idea.

Even this is not 100% true, cause if a bird hums a series of pitches it could be a melody as well.

Some Meta Communication about "(more) - melodic" (NOT melody):

When one says something is "more melodic" then it's a vague term. It would be the same as saying to an orchestra: "It would sound better with more instruments".

It's not necessarily wrong, but it's not complete/clear information, and it's useless info.

One might interchange "catchy" with "Melodic" and find this the essence of "more melodic", while others find catchy melodies to be annoying or uninspiring.

Other people find something "more melodic" when more dissonance/tension is being applied (ie. alterations over dominant chords in jazz melodies), while other's find that dissonant and wouldn't consider that more melodic. (This strays not far away from TS example when they say Maiden is more melodic as metallica)

People like Bach believed in counterpoint, and would say something is more melodic when more complex counterpoint was applied.

There's no one thing that defines "more melodic", and it's a broad term.

Only relatively speaking you can compare some melodies in a slightly less vague way.

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#23
I've actually come to hate that generic "melodic metal" term... what they do to sound so is harmonizing guitars which makes it sweeter but it's not melody already is it? hence the word harmonizing. But anyways as nmitchel said:
A melody is a collection of pitches existing horizontally in time. This is opposed to harmony which is pitches existing vertically at once. Any horizontal musical line is a "melody." In that sense, I think it is odd to say "more melodic," as I see it almost like saying "what makes a sentence more sentence-like?"
#24
Quote by triface
I don't see how TS is asking what a melody is. He's asking what makes a melody more melodic.


You can't properly answer the question "What makes something more melodic?", without asking "What is melody?".

Oddly enough, this is an area that nobody seems to bother with much in musicological circles. I'll have a go at addressing the question, I'm not really sure I'm able to give you a definitive answer, though. (EDIT: please don't be put off by text-wall, I think all of this is easily digested and is fairly basic)

What properties do melodies have? Perhaps most fundamentally, they have rhythm: tap a rhythm, and it's still recognisable as the music that you're referencing, but hum a collection of notes, with arbitrary rhythm, and it bears much less resemblance. Rhythm can help to direct the flow of the melody, can help build tension, and can add emphasis.

Melodies also have contour, or shape. People often describe them as arch shaped, ascending, or descending. Some kind of pleasing shape, an arch, sine wave shape or whatever, help to make the music feel like it's either going somewhere or returning back home. Most melodies (or perhaps I should say the paradigmatic, "textbook" melody) tend to also have a even balance of conjunct (step-wise) movement, or disjunct (leap) movement. Melodic range is closely related, where the highest and lowest points occur. Longer melodies often have a greater range, it helps give them a sense of direction.

Motives are separate from melody, but can be an element of them: melodies can be formed from motives, and motives can be derived from melody. Repetition of motives in a melody can either increase or decrease the effectiveness of a melody, depending on context etc.

Duration is closely linked to the shape. A melody can be less effective if it's too short or too rambling. There are also a number of transformations that can be applied to phrases, or units of phrases to make them seem less square and more flowing or organic. Music is often organised in 2,3 or 4 bar phrases, but overlapping two of these together to produce an irregular phrase length can often make music seem more "poetic" and flowing.

Melodies also have register. Fairly self explanatory. Most melodies occur in the mid-range, particularly vocal melodies. But particularly in instrumental music, putting a melody in an extreme low or high register can really transform the effect of the music. Subtly different is tessitura, where the absolute register relates to the range of the instrument. What is high (and perceived as pushing the limits of their range) for a tenor, is really low for a flute, say. This also makes a difference.

Chromaticism vs. diatonicism also plays a role in a melody and how effective it is.

It's also worth investigating the extent of the effect of harmony in melodies. Melodies often have a cadence, and cadences require the presence of harmony (and tonality). It's often disputed whether harmony is actually an element of melody, but I definitely think you can't examine melody in its absence. Harmonic rhythm, or the rate of change of harmony could also figure, too. That leads onto tonality, which I probably should have mentioned earlier than this! Most melodies are almost instantly identifiable as major/minor/modal.

So, what makes melodies more melodic?

Well, it's the combination of these factors (I hope I haven't forgotten any), and more importantly, the proportion in which they are combined. All of these factors, combined in just the right amount, help to give a melody it's "melodic qualities".

I hope I've managed to answer your question without going into the much more difficult question of what is meant by "more melodic"?. Does it mean more singable? Catchier? Or is there something quintessential to melody, a "melodicness" which can be arrived at through infinite different combinations of these elements, which is indescribable and which cannot be analysed?


Quote by GuitarMunky
Well, that's not true exactly. For one, melodies are not pitch collections, though they may be derived from them, just as they are (more commonly) from scales and modes. Also a random group of notes as seen horizontally on a staff doesn't necessarily constitute a melody. If though by "musical" line you mean to imply that it includes things like rhythm, note choice, and phrasing then I would agree. But just notes on their own being horizontal..... could just be notes and no melody at all.
Same idea with Harmony. Stack 4 random notes together. Could be harmony, could be something else.


+1
Harmony isn't purely vertical, seeing it as such is vulgar thought. Harmony has much stronger linear/horizontal direction than it is often given credit, perhaps stronger than melody itself. Melody doesn't exist in a harmonic vacuum, either.
Last edited by National_Anthem at Sep 15, 2011,
#25
I've noticed when people are describing a line thats "really melodic" it's usually based around a minor scale or chord progression.

the minor scale just oozes what people think is "melodic"

obviously the definition of melody has nothing to do with that.
#26
Quote by Ignite
I've noticed when people are describing a line thats "really melodic" it's usually based around a minor scale or chord progression.

the minor scale just oozes what people think is "melodic"

obviously the definition of melody has nothing to do with that.


no, that's because people like angst cos half the people on here are teenagers. by that reckoning, rachmaninov's pagannini variations wouldn't be as melodic or some minor stuff, yet if you listen to it (you know the one i'm talking about) i think most people agree that it probably as melodic as you get. same with tchaikovsky's 2nd piano concerto, the intro melody, major, and, with rach's variations, among THE most melodic things you will hear in your life.
#27
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Im pretty sure 95% of what is posted in musicians talk each day has been discussed to death, but its still good to get different ideas and perspectives on things.
#28
Quote by National_Anthem
+1
Harmony isn't purely vertical, seeing it as such is vulgar thought. Harmony has much stronger linear/horizontal direction than it is often given credit, perhaps stronger than melody itself. Melody doesn't exist in a harmonic vacuum, either.

It isn't purely vertical, but you cannot have harmony without collecting the pitches in a vertical manner. In Bach solo instrumental suites and partitas, for example, although you have lines that move horizontally and (for the most part) don't often have "chord-to-chord" progressions (since most are just single line phrases, with exceptions of course), you can still consider the harmony by collecting the pitches in a vertical manner and then seing how the various vertical combinations of pitches progress and relate to one another, but if you did not consider them vertically, you couldn't consider it harmony. We do this by rote when we listen, so that we consider single lines as outlining harmonies without even thinking about it. Just because we don't consciously do it doesn't mean it doesn't happen though.

Thus, harmony must always consider the vertical placement of notes, and how these instances of vertical sonorities move into one another. The latter is a "progression" or "harmonic continuity." I recognize that there is, in a sense, a "melody" of harmonic structures, ie considering a single instance of vertical sonority the same way as one would consider a single note of a melodic line, and constructing a narrative of how these sonorities move into one another.

I was simply trying to make clear the difference between harmony and melody on a basic level, (such as the difference between a "melodic" minor third and a "harmonic minor 3rd dyad). In practice, these terms of course intermingle, I was not trying to suggest they don't.
Last edited by nmitchell076 at Sep 15, 2011,
#29
Quote by mrbabo91
Ive been thinking lately about what makes something more melodic than something else. For example. a lot of people say that iron maiden are more melodic than metallica, why ?. Is it being able to listen to something and hum along or is it tension and resolution. What is it?

its opinion really. ive read that some people think that wider intervals make things sound more melodic. if you never play anything wider than a 2nd or 3rd, its too predictable. when we sing we tend to make bigger jumps interval wise. thats why people tell you to sing a solo first then try to play it. its too get you out of visualizing notes on the fret board and to make interval jumps you wouldnt normally do. its also one of the theories of why the pentatonic is used so much in every culture. first of all, its all the safe notes. second of all, by taking away two notes from the diatonic scale you widen the intervals making it sound less scale like and more melodic.

but again, its all opinion. "more melodic" means different things to different people.
#30
Well, more melodic implies more use of melodies, VS less melodic which would mean less use of melodies. non-melodic would of-course mean no use of melodies.

for example the solo for Journey's Don't stop Believing is more melodic than Vernon Reids solo in The Cult of Personality. they both contain melodic elements, but one makes a more extensive use of melodies than the other. The Schon solo being completely melodic, and the Reid solo only making a hint or 2 at a melody. I'm not implying one is better than the other, only that one is clearly more melodic.

Melody is definable.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 15, 2011,
#31
I'm would say that a big part of what makes something melodic (and interesting to the ear) is a contour that is not purely scalar. It's true that strong use of step-wise motion can be an important part of melody, but there is of course a difference between that and just running a scale up and down. Any decent melody is going to have some variety in it, some twists and turns, go somewhere. I wouldn't say that big leaps are inherently unmelodic, as they are part of what creates interest in a melody. It's more a matter of how they are used.

Another aspect is the existence of a melodic climax in terms of reaching the highest or lowest note, and a climax in terms of rythmic excitement and speed (which some have said tends to occur around 2/3 through a part).
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Sep 16, 2011,