Melody Rules Sometimes

Day 118 Week 17 Q2 Saturday, April 27, 2024

April 27, 2024 at 7:19 AM

Did both today, as it works so well, so often, I began on guitar and moved on to piano. The harmonic components vary so much on these two instruments, not so much because of the sounds, which, after all, are not that different, being mostly struck impulse response tone generators, but rhythmically in that which notes are played in which order with what kind of rhythmic style is entirely different. The net effect of this is that it forces you to decide what to keep and carry with you when transitioning, and that tends to be melody, the part you could sing if you can sing and perhaps even if you can not.

When transitioning between instruments of different families, such as guitar and piano, the melody is the most portable element. Another portable item is the bassline, which can also function as a melody or a countering melody. The choice between interleaving, a slower process, and simultaneity, a potentially more comprehensive approach, is another factor to consider.

Another factor to consider is range, which can vary significantly between instruments. For instance, a keyboard can have a range of two to seven plus octaves, while a guitar, bass, or cello generally has a range of three to four octaves.  

In contrast, the average human can typically sing comfortably within a range of about 1.5 to 2 octaves. However, with training and practice, some individuals can expand their vocal range to about 3 octaves or even more.

All of this nets out to the fact that most melodies tend to fit within one to two octaves or less than most instruments, once again making for the most portable musical, hence the critical portable representation of a musical idea even if some people are able to sing rhythmic harmony.

On the other hand, melodies are not generally what makes people dance. They can, but often, that is left to other parts of music which support the melody.

But what if there is no melody and just an ambient pleasant set of sounds from strumming a guitar or playing chords but not changes on a piano? Well, one indicator of the relative value is the difficulty of copywriting a composition that does not have a melody.   However, you can copywrite a rhythmic or ambient performance that has been recorded and not notated.

Still, when moving between instruments and between performers, the melody does have both a tendency to rule and to be the most portable representation of a musical idea. 

Reflection on the importance and versatility of melody in music, especially when transitioning between instruments and performers, can be insightful. Melody often serves as the backbone of a musical piece, providing a cohesive thread that ties everything together. It’s fascinating how different instruments and their unique harmonic components can influence the overall sound and rhythmic structure of a melody.

Observations about the portability of melody, particularly when compared to other musical elements like basslines, are not always shared but are spot on. Melody tends to be the most memorable and easily translatable aspect of a composition, making it essential for conveying musical ideas across different contexts.

It touches upon the relationship between melody and rhythm and highlights their interplay and the various considerations when crafting musical arrangements. While melodies alone may not always drive people to dance, they play a crucial role in setting the mood and providing a focal point for listeners.

The discussion about copyrighting compositions without melodies versus those with rhythmic or ambient elements raises interesting points about the legal and creative aspects of music production. It underscores the significance of melody as a defining feature of musical compositions, both in terms of artistic expression and intellectual property.

Overall, contemplation on the significance of melody in music composition and performance is essential for composers of all genres and styles of music.