MUS 311 Counterpoint

B. The Single Melodic Line, Chapter 2

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Characteristics of successful 18th-century melodies:

  1. Contour usually ascends to the climax.

  1. Utilizes step-progression, repetition, sequence.

  1. Consistent harmonic rhythm.

  1. Range does not exceed a 12th.

  1. Active tones usually resolve:  4-3, 6-5, 7-8, 2-1 or 2-3; minor:  #6 & #7 ascend, b6 & b7 descend.

  1. Melodic minor is usually used to avoid the +2 of harmonic minor.

  1. Tones heard as nonharmonic should be resolved.

  1. Consecutive leaps should outline only harmony of the style period.

  1. Two large leaps in the same direction should be avoided.

  1. A leap followed by stepwise motion is preferred to stepwise motion followed by a leap.

  • The faster the rhythm, the more objectionable is the step-leap.

  • The slower the rhythm, the more acceptable--but still weak.

  1. There should be some corroboration of musical elements--melodic, rhythmic, or both (unifying element re the overall piece).

  1. Avoid abrupt halts in rhythmic motion.

  • Motion on a weak beat is preferable--gives a sense of propulsion to a strong beat.

  1. Relative importance of notes.  The following situations may cause certain notes to be heard as more important that others:

  • Highest or lowest note in a phrase

  • First or last note

  • Note that is longer in value

  • Repeated note (repeated immediately, or later)

  • In a strong metric position

  • Accented dynamically

  • Harmonic v. nonharmonic

  • In a step progression



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