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Melody, Rhythm, Harmony

Lesson ONE
by

Stephen Cook

on 17 January 2017

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Transcript of Melody, Rhythm, Harmony

Activity vs. Resolution
Music always wants to resolve to a point of stability
(Think final cadences)
That which is stable or sounds good is Consonant / Consonance
Agreeable, restful, pleasing
Its opposite is Dissonant / Dissonance
Unstable, active, discordant
Chapter 1: Melody
That which we most often remember
What we whistle or hum
The “tune”
The musical line
A melody is a coherent succession of individual pitches
Which we perceive as a complete idea
The distances between pitches is called an interval
Musical Structures
Music borrows terms from literature / grammar to describe structure.

A phrase is a unit of musical “meaning” within the larger idea
Like a phrase or clause in a sentence
Chapter 2 - Rhythm
Rhythm is music’s relationship with time
That which is felt
Most basic unit is the beat or Pulse
Pulse is a recurring “constant” beat.
Accented: strong beats
Unaccented: weak beats
Meter and Poetry
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

--Robert Frost
Metric patterns
Duple - two beats
Strong, weak… like a march
Triple - three beats
Strong, weak, weak… a waltz
Quadruple - four beats
Strong, weak, somewhat-strong, weak
Etc. - 5, 6, 7, 8…. Beats, (accents vary)
Organization of Harmony
Hierarchy of pitch: some notes more important:
‘Do’, called Tonic is home base
This organization around a key note is Tonality
To base a piece of music on a particular scale, and therefore, a particular Tonic.
Scale Types
Major
Most popular.
Brighter, more open
Minor
Darker, more closed
Scales and Intervals
Diatonic
Uses each letter name once
i.e… major or minor
8 notes (do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do)
Chromatic
Uses all half-steps that spans the octave
12 notes
(Every individual note in one octave)
Sound
All sound from vibration
Musical tone caused by constant vibration
Frequency
4 principles of sound:
Pitch: highness or lowness of sound
Duration: length of time sound continues
Volume: relative loudness or softness
Timbre: tone-color – unique sound of an instrument.
Characteristics of Melodies
Range: distance between lowest and highest pitch in the melody
Shape: direction a melody takes
Rising, falling, static, wavelike
Movement: affect of interval size on style
Conjunct - small intervals, moving by steps,
Disjunct - large intervals, “range-y”
Musical Structures
Cadence - musical punctuation
FINAL: Chords at end of a phrase that provides rest or finality (like a period)
ACTIVE (inconclusive): the music is propelled forward (like a comma)
When there is text (lyrics) the text, phrases, Cadences, and rhyme scheme will most likely all line-up.
http://www.musictheory.net/lessons/55
Meter
Strong and weak beats combine to form patterns called Meters
Like meter in poetry
Meter, then, refers to:
Number of beats
Number and location of accents
And how the beat divides into smaller notes
Meter types
Simple Meter - Divides by two
One, and, two, and, One…


Compound Meter - Divides by three
One, two three; Four, five six
One - la - le; Two - la - le
“America”, West Side Story


Syncopation – accent on a weak beat
(or after-beat)
SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.
Harmony
Harmony: Vertical component / motion
Chords are vertical (sound simultaneously)
While melody is horizontal
Intervals can be Melodic - one after another
Or simultaneous… called a Chord
The How of Harmony
Chords only have meaning in relation to each other
Like words in a sentence
Therefore, harmony implies motion or Progression
Most basic chord is three notes called Triad
Based on notes from scale: 1-3-5, 2-4-6, etc. (Example, p. 21)
Scale
A set pattern of intervals arranged in ascending and/or descending order.
do re mi fa sol la ti do
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
C D E F G A B C (e.g.)
Interval distance
Do-re second, do-mi third
Octave - interval of 8
next repetition of same letter
Melody, Rhythm, Harmony, & Scales
Melody vs. Harmony
Full transcript