MUS 111 Study Guide G (Chapter 7)
Melodic Line I
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Form: refers to the shape or structure
of the object or concept being described. In music, a form
usually ends at a cadence point; a form begins either at the
beginning of a piece or immediately after a cadence.
Compositions usually contain a number of cadences, so there are a
number of formal sections–smaller forms make up the larger forms.
The Phrase: a group of notes leading to
a cadence. A phrase is most commonly four measures in length,
although phrases of eight or more measures are ... possible.
Motive: two or more distinct units
within a phrase.
The Period: Two phrases may combine to
form a period. The first phrase (antecedent) usually
ends with a half or imperfect authentic cadence. The second
phrase (consequent) usually ends with a perfect authentic
Parallel / Contrasting: A period is
parallel when the two phrases are similar in some respect. Often,
the two phrases are identical except at the cadence points.
But any marked similarity in the two phrases justifies a
"parallel period" analysis, including the mere repetition
of the first few notes of the melody. When the phrases lack
specific or general similarity, the period is contrasting.
Elision: a term which describes a melodic
overlap. The last note of the first phrase is the beginning note of
the next phrase.
If two phrases both end with the tonic note, they
cannot be combined into a larger form, as the period typically
requires a weaker cadence followed by a strong (perfect authentic)
cadence. Two such phrases would simply be considered ... two
Phrases are also classified according to whether the
rhythmic placement of their first and last notes occurs on a strong
or weak beat. A strong beat would be beat one, of
course. Often, two phrases which form a period will commonly
display the same beginning- and ending-note characteristics (e.g.,
both strong or both weak).
Repetition: Repetition within the
phrase is as valuable as repetition within the period (e.g.,
parallel period) for emphasizing a good theme within the space of
four measures. Repetition may also be modified by inversion of
thematic material. Inversion of a theme is somewhat like
holding a piece of music in front of a mirror. What first went
up then goes down in inverted form.
Sequence: similar to repetition, but
the repeated material is presented at a new pitch level. This
allows similarity and variety simultaneously. A sequence
requires at least two segments–the original and the one restated
at a different pitch level. Most sequences contain no more
than several notes. And most usually move in one direction, either
up or down. Also, sequences generally continue with the same
interval distance between statements. There are five types:
Real sequence: contains continuing
segments that are an exact transposition, interval by interval, of the
Tonal sequence: contains continuing
segments that are a transposition of the first, but accommodate the
Modified sequence: some of the segments
may be embellished in a way that does not destroy the character of the
Modulating sequence: leads from one tonal
center to another. Sometimes each has a temporary tonal center
different from the preceding sequence.
False sequence: repeats part of a figure
and states the remainder in sequence–a mixture of sequence and
Intervals and Scale Passages: Effective
melodies include those with few skips/narrow range to those of many
skips/wide range. Most fall somewhere in the middle, however.
Intervals: Intervals of a third or larger
can be used freely when resulting in the arpeggiation of a chord,
though the number of successive skips is usually not more than
three. A leap of a fifth or larger is usually approached from
the direction opposite the skip, and left in the direction opposite
Scale passages: The usual scale-line
passage does not exceed six tones, though longer passages are not
Range: The range of the melody (lowest to
highest note) must not exceed the range of the voice or instrument for
which the melody is written. Doh! In most melodies,
the highest tone, the climax tone, is usually not repeated
within the passage, as its effectiveness is lost upon
repetition. This observation is somewhat true of the anticlimax
note, the lowest note.
The Leading Tone: The leading tone,
scale degree 7, must be treated with care, as it leads to the
tonic. When approached by step from below, it must progress to
the tonic. When preceded by the tonic, it may progress down by
step, as in a scale, or it may return to the tonic. When it is
part of an arpeggiated triad figure, its direction is determined by
the direction of the arpeggio, except when it is found as the final
note of the arpeggio, where it returns to tonic. In
part-writing exercises, the leading tone is NOT doubled.
Minor keys–the Sixth and Seventh Scale Steps:
If the harmonic form of the minor is used, the
unwanted interval of the augmented second results between scale
degrees 6 and 7, e.g., C D Eb F G Ab B
C. While the A2 does have limited uses, it should be avoided at
this point. As its name implies, the melodic form of the minor
is generally used in melodic writing.
When a melody ascends through a scale line from the
dominant tone to the tonic tone, 6 and 7 are usually raised.
When the V triad is written as an arpeggio (either
direction), #7 is used.
With the descending scale pattern 1 7 6 5, the 7th
and 6th scales degrees are generally lowered, a la
When 7 is used without 6 in a stepwise passage, it is
raised and proceeds up.
When 6 is used without 7, it is lowered and proceeds
Occasionally, both 6 and 7 are found in a stepwise
passage, but not between tonic and dominant tones. In this case,
each 6 and 7 of the group is treated alike. If the last note of
the group is 7, all notes of the group are raised. If the last
note of the group is 6, all notes of the group are lowered. This
avoids the melodic A2.
Harmonic Implication: Approaches to
harmonizing melodies ... what to look for:
A chord that is actually outlined in the melody, or
suggested by an interval. (In some cases, the fourth scale
degree can be harmonized with either IV or V7.)
When there is no chord outline, the strong beat, or beats, of the
measure may suggest the harmony.
Most melodies will contain nonharmonic tones. These
usually occur between chord tones and are stepwise.
- Rhythm and Meter: Rhythmic sequences are usually coupled
with melodic sequences. Rhythmic patterns in recurring
measures of equal lengths with accents implied on the strong beat(s)
of the measure are typical of the music of the tonal era.
- Melodic Composition: The art of composing is not as
"mystical" as it may seem. Having a thorough
knowledge of the tools of the trade can go a long way toward being
creative. Following are some simple techniques used in a
melodic motif from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony:
Scale lines are used throughout.
The harmony implied is I and V only.
The rhythmic pattern of repeated quarter notes is varied only at
The form is a simple eight-measure period.
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