Understanding Melody/Harmony

  • Melody can be defined as a sequence of single notes that make up a complete musical phrase.
  • The direction of a melody could be ascending (upward), descending (downward), or mixed (both).
  • Pitch is the degree of highness or lowness of a tone, key component in understanding a melody.
  • The length of the notes in a melody affects the rhythm, another important aspect.
  • Range is the distance between the highest and the lowest notes in a melody.

Exploring Scales

  • Scales form the foundation of melody and harmony.
  • The most commonly used scales in Western music are major scales and minor scales.
  • A chromatic scale consists of 12 pitches, each a semi-tone apart.
  • Pentatonic scales, consisting of five notes, are commonly used in folk music.

Understanding Harmony

  • Harmony is the combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect.
  • The simplest harmony is a dyad, or a two-note chord, while a triad is a three note chord.
  • Chords are fundamental to harmony. They can be classified as major, minor, diminished and augmented.
  • Harmonic progression means moving from one chord to another in a piece of music.

Exploring Harmonic Techniques

  • Arpeggios refer to playing the individual notes of a chord in a sequence.
  • Contrary motion means that while one melody line rises, the other falls.
  • Dissonance describes a tension created by “unstable” sounding notes, which are usually resolved to ‘consonant’ chords.
  • Drone refers to a sustained, continuous note or chord throughout most or all of a piece.