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melody

melody (from Gr. ‘Melos’). A succession of notes, varying in pitch, which have an organized and recognizable shape. Melody is ‘horizontal’, i.e. the notes are heard consecutively, whereas in harmony notes are sounded simultaneously (‘vertical’). The mus. of many primitive races still remains purely melodic, as does European folksong and also plainsong. Many apparently simple folk melodies will be found, on examination, however, to be highly organized, e.g. as regards the use at different pitch levels of some simple, brief motif, the adroit use of a high note as a point of climax, etc.; many such melodies will be found to be cast in some definite form, such as simple ternary form.

Rhythm is an important element in melody, whether it be the prose rhythm of primitive mus., plainsong, and the comps. of some modern composers, or the metrical rhythm of most other mus. Indeed this element is so much a governing factor in the effect of a melody that if, while the notes of a popular melody are left intact, the rhythm is drastically altered, it becomes difficult to recognize the melody. The rhythm of many melodies is extraordinarily subtle and repays close study.

Once harmony had become an element in mus. it began to influence melody in this way—that melodic passages are often found to be based on the notes of a chord (with or without added decorative or intermediate notes).

It is difficult to define ‘originality’ in melody. Apparently it lies mainly in mere detail, since, on critical examination, what we accept as an orig. melody is often found closely to resemble some previous and quite well-known melody. It is often difficult to see what has led to the popularity of a particular melody, or what it is that gives some melodies durability while others prove to be merely ephemeral: however, it will generally be found that the long-lived melodies possess the valuable quality of logical organization.

Racial and nat. feeling expresses itself strongly in melody, particular scales, intervals, and rhythms being typical of the mus. of particular races or nations.

The word is also sometimes used as the title for a small, simple piece, e.g. Rubinstein's Melody in F.

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melody

melody, succession of single tones of varying pitch. Melody is the linear aspect of music, in contrast to harmony, the chordal aspect, which results from the simultaneous sounding of tones. Melody must be considered with rhythm; they are the two necessary elements to music. Melody by itself, i.e., monophonic music, was the principal form of composition in Western cultures before the year 1000. It remains in folk song and in many non-Western cultures. From 1000 melody was combined with one or more different melodies. The polyphonic music thus created dominated composition until about 1600 when homophonic music, melody supported by harmonies, was developed in Italy and slowly spread throughout Europe in the following century. See polyphony and harmony.

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melody

melody In music, a sequence of notes that makes a recognizable musical pattern. The term is most commonly used of the dominant part or voice (the ‘tune’) in Romantic and light music, in which harmonic accompaniment is nearly always subordinate. Music featuring several melodies simultaneously and harmoniously is termed ‘contrapuntal’ or polyphony, and is characteristic of the late Baroque period.

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melody

mel·o·dy / ˈmelədē/ • n. (pl. -dies) a sequence of single notes that is musically satisfying: he picked out an intricate melody on his guitar. ∎  such sequences of notes collectively: his great gift was for melody. ∎  the principal part in harmonized music: we have the melody and bass of a song composed by Strozzi.

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melody

melody sweet music XIII; tune, air XVII; element of musical form XVIII. — (O)F. mélodie — late L. melōdia — Gr. melōidíā singing, f. melōidós singing songs, musical, f. mélos song, rhythmical chant, orig. limb, member; see ODE, -Y3.
So melodic XIX, melodious XIV.

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Melody

Melody

of harpers: harpists collectively Bk. of St. Albans, 1486.

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melody

melodybody, embody, Irrawaddy, Kirkcaldy, noddy, Passamaquoddy, shoddy, Soddy, squaddie, toddy, wadi •secondi, spondee, tondi •anybody • everybody • busybody •dogsbody • homebody •bawdy, gaudy, Geordie, Lordy •baldy, Garibaldi, Grimaldi •Maundy •cloudy, dowdy, Gaudí, howdy, rowdy, Saudi •Jodie, roadie, toady, tody •Goldie, mouldy (US moldy), oldie •broody, foodie, Judy, moody, Rudi, Trudy, Yehudi •goody, hoodie, woody •Burundi, Kirundi, Mappa Mundi •Rushdie •bloody, buddy, cruddy, cuddy, muddy, nuddy, ruddy, study •barramundi, bassi profundi, Lundy, undy •fuddy-duddy • understudy •Lombardy • nobody • somebody •organdie (US organdy) • burgundy •Arcady •chickadee, Picardy •malady • melody • Lollardy •psalmody • Normandy • threnody •hymnody • jeopardy • chiropody •parody • rhapsody • prosody •bastardy • custody •birdie, curdy, hurdy-gurdy, nerdy, sturdy, vinho verde, wordy •olde worlde

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