MUS 112 Study Guide O (Chapter 15)

Melodic Line II

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  1. Melodic extension:  The four-measure phrase is not extended at random, but rather through creative adjustment.  Ways of doing that:

Repeat part of a phrase.  Exact repetition of an entire phrase is not extension.  Since a phrase and its repetition are considered a single phrase, they cannot be considered a period.

Evade the cadence at the end of the phrase, allowing the melody to continue further to the ultimate cadence.

Use a sequential pattern during the course of the phrase.

Lengthen by adding measures.

Add another motive to the phrase.

Occasionally, phrases may be more or less than four measures in length.  In some instances, a two-measure phrase or an eight-measure phrase may be considered a regular phrase length.  E.g., when the tempo is very fast or each measure contains only a few notes, an eight-measure phrase may be considered regular.  When the tempo is very slow or each measure contains many notes, a two-measure phrase may be considered regular.

  1. The Phrase Group and the Double Period:  Two other forms, each larger than the period, can be constructed by the addition of phrase lengths.

Phrase Group:  consists of three of more phrases (often three), each of which differs melodically from the others.  Usually, each of the first two phrases ends with a half cadence or an imperfect authentic, and the last phrase ends with a perfect authentic.  Any or all phrases of a phrase group may be lengthened by an extension.

Double Period:  consists of two periods.  In the double period, there is but one perfect cadence ... at the very end of the form.  The first eight-measure group (two phrases) looks and sounds like a period until its cadence, which is an imperfect or half.  (This temporary stop is necessary or there would be no double period, only two successive periods.)  The beginning of the second period is usually the same as or similar to that of the first period, and the last phrase can recall the second phrase or show all new material.

  1. Extension in Motivic Development: Extensions are often used for the development of a melodic idea from the principal part of the phrase.  Often, a motivic fragment will be repeated sequentially.

  1. Harmonizing a Melody without Lead Sheet Symbols:  Two factors must be considered–tempo and harmonic rhythm.  Then, you must determine whether certain melody tones are more satisfactory as harmonic tones or as nonharmonic tones in relation to the chosen accompanying harmony.

    Tempo.  Consider how fast or slow the tune will be performed.  Slower tempos often require more chords per measure; faster tempos often require fewer.  A very slow tempo may require a different chord for every melody note.  A moderate tempo may require a different chord every beat or two, whereas, a fast tempo may require only one chord per measure.  These are generalizations, of course.  An appropriate tempo can be determined only by careful study of the melody and applying one’s own aesthetic judgment.

    Harmonic Rhythm.  Harmonic rhythm is the frequency of harmonic change in a composition.  Typical harmonic rhythm patterns show these characteristics:  (1) Chords may be changed on any beat of the measure.  (2) When a change of chord appears on a strong beat of the measure, it may extend into following beats.  (3) When a change of chord appears on a weak beat or part of a beat, it should not be repeated on the following stronger beat; instead, a new chord should appear.  (4) When a change of bass note appears on a weak beat of a measure, this note is not repeated on the following strong beat even for a new chord.

    An exception occurs when a new phrase or motive begins on a strong beat, in which case the harmony of the previous weak beat may be repeated.

    The upbeat (anacrusis) to a phrase is treated in a special way.  Typically, there is no harmony at all.  But, if the upbeat to a phrase is harmonized, the harmony may be repeated or changed on the strong beat that follows.

    Rhythmic syncopation is generally avoided in harmonic rhythm.  Syncopation results when stress is placed on weak beats rather than on strong beats.  This often occurs by accenting a weak beat or tying a weak beat into a strong beat.

  1. Differentiating Chord Tones and Nonharmonic Tones:  More often than not, a specific chord tone will appear on each strong beat of the measure, with nonharmonic tones between.  In choosing the harmonic movement from chord to chord, be sure to use the chart of chord progressions (Sheet J8).  At times, however, an accented nonharmonic tone may appear.  It may be better to let such tones remain nonharmonic, rather than trying to harmonize them, in relation to an overall better harmonic progression.  Experiment with various possibilities ...
  1. Application to the Keyboard:  When harmonizing an accented nonharmonic tone, the usual procedure is to omit the corresponding harmonic tone on the strong beat.  The chord will be completed when the nonharmonic tone resolves to the chord tone.
  1. Melody Writing: First decide on a tempo.  This will determine the harmonic rhythm.  Again, refer to the chart of chord progressions (Sheet J8).  If you find it helpful, actually write the harmony, either by chord numbers or by block chords, on an extra bass staff.  Intervals larger than scale steps can now have several analytical implications:

The interval(s) may outline a chord.  In most melodies, scale steps and small intervals predominate, which includes intervals implying the ii triad and the V7 chord.

Melodies consisting predominantly of intervallic leaps can also be musically satisfactory, examples of which occur in some of the Bach fugue subjects.

Each note of the interval can represent a different chord (a chord change occurs as the interval is sounded).

The interval may be a leap from a chord tone to a nonharmonic tone, or in the case of an escaped tone, from a nonharmonic tone to a harmonic tone.

In the melodic sequence, the same leap in successive figures may hold differing implications.

Extension in melodic writing is helpful in avoiding the monotony of a constant four-measure metric repetition.

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