Melody Research, Analysis, and Recording Project


The goal of this project is to improve understanding of musical techniques used to engage the listener and harness certain features. Learning to do these things effectively can be important to musicians who strongly value being understood amongst a large audience.

My First HookTheory Melody

When directed to create an eight-measure melody during the class period I created the melody above (my first melody created with HookTheory). I would have wanted the melody to be faster and to have adjusted certain segments but it was difficult to be precise. However, I generally liked the sound of the sequence.

Notes from Howard Goodall’s Melody Video

How did cultures go about developing more notes once progressing past pentatonic notes?

Why have humans not come to a global consensus on how many tones to use on a scale? What impacts the decision that causes scale length to vary?

– All music “uses the same baseline”

– Some melodic principles are universal to every culture around the world

– Every music system uses the same five notes- instincts for language and frequencies seem to have been instilled in us since birth—” these five notes are like a human inheritance”—pentatonic notes–

– Tone variation is impacted by culture

-Movement between whole tone to whole tone is more common (especially vocally) because more people struggle with transitioning from whole tones to half-steps/ semitones.

– Note groups-scales are called modes

– Modes—moods in different cultures

– Across all frequencies we pick notes and assign moods/feelings—these are called modes

– Sharpening—raising by a semitone/half step—yearning/reaching

– In declination, modes are left without alteration/sharpening—this later started to lead to lowering/flattening. False relations occur when these alterations are overlapped.

– The melodic modifications applied to the vocals of different genres can be cultural–blue notes–

– Standardized tuning–diatonic tuning gives people the option to join frequencies that complement each other

– Ionian-major scale
minor scale designed to be compatible with major leaving room for a smooth transition between the two

– Identifying which mood is intended to be channeled before assembling a song could help establish a starting point through modes.

– Jewish melody was crucial to creating the foundation of American broadway-style music.


tonic-tonic –closed off phrase no tension
tonic-dominant–tonic—high tension–demands the second phrase to resolve tension
submediant–not high tension/not tonic
focus on creating patterns

Summary: The overarching idea I was able to take from the video was that humans are naturally attracted to certain sounds, tones, and frequencies. This causes them to reappear within different cultures and ultimately influence those listening, even subconsciously.

Melody Composition Terms and Definitions

  • Theme: A long, flowing melodic idea.
  • Motive: A short, rhythmic idea (Beethoven’s 5th).
  • Period: 8-12 measures or a musical sentence.
  • Phrase: Usually 4 measures.
  • Antecedent (Question) Phrase: First 4 measures of a period.
  • Consequent (Answer) Phrase: Second 4 measures of a period.
  • Scale Degrees (C Major Scale)
    • Tonic: C (1 , 8) – Stability and resolve.
    • Supertonic, Mediant, Submediant: D, E, A (2 , 3 , 6) – Moderate tension, useful for transitions and carrying on an idea.
    • Subdominant, Dominant, Leading Tone: F, G, B (4 , 5 , 7) – Causes the most tension, leads to the tonic.
  • Steps: Any movement using half or whole steps.
  • Leaps: Any movement using intervals larger than a whole step.
  • Conjunct motion: Melody is built primarily out of steps.
  • Disjunct motion: Melody is built primarily out of leaps.
  • Repetition: Repeated material (i.e. motive) used to create a link between two phrases of the period.
  • Contrast: Two phrases that contain contrasting material to create tension and interest.
  • Variation: Halfway between contrast and repetition. The two phrases include some recognizable material and some varied material (i.e. taking ideas up an octave).

One of My Favorite Melodies

  • key of f, tonic note, and tension notes
  • What do you notice about the note structure/pattern of the theme of the melody?

My Second HookTheory Melody

  • Place a screenshot of the melody notes on HookTheory
  • Link to a .mp3 file of your second melody from HookTheory
  • Write a brief reflection about this melody. What do you like about it?
    • Where did you raise tension or suspense in the melody?
    • Where did you resolve tension in the melody?

What I Learned & Problems I Solved

  • Write what you LEARNED from the research, analysis, and melody creation parts of this project


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