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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 rhythmrhythm,
the basic temporal element of music, concerned with duration and with stresses or accents whether irregular or organized into regular patternings. The formulation in the late 12th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. ; 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 songfolk song,
music of anonymous composition, transmitted orally. The theory that folk songs were originally group compositions has been modified in recent studies. These assume that the germ of a folk melody is produced by an individual and altered in transmission into a
..... Click the link for more information. 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 polyphonypolyphony
, music whose texture is formed by the interweaving of several melodic lines. The lines are independent but sound together harmonically. Contrasting terms are homophony, wherein one part dominates while the others form a basically chordal accompaniment, and monophony,
..... Click the link for more information. and harmonyharmony,
in music, simultaneous sounding of two or more tones and, especially, the study of chords and their relations. Harmony was the last in the development of what may be considered the basic elements of modern music—harmony, melody, rhythm, and tone quality or timbre.
..... Click the link for more information. .
according to I. V. Sposobin, the expression in one voice of a musical idea. Melody is “the most essential aspect of music” (S. S. Prokofiev), its simplest and primary form, and its main element, which incorporates the expressive effects of many other elements. The term has a number of basic meanings. It refers to a succession of musical tones forming an entity. Melody is a line, as opposed to harmony, or a chord, which consists of tones sounded simultaneously. “Melody”may mean the main voice, as in the expressions “melody and accompaniment”and “melody and bass.”It may also designate a meaningful, imagistic wholeness—a focus of musical expressiveness. Melody, proper, is a “musical idea.”
Melody has retained traces of its primordial link with speech, poetry, and dance movement. Like speech, it appeals to a listener with the aim of affecting him, and it uses sounds. The expressiveness of a melody depends on a certain emotional tone and on various expressive means that it shares with speech, including pitch, rhythm, volume, tempo, and nuances in timbre. The dynamics of changes in these expressive means also affects the expressiveness of a melody. “Speech and purely musical intonation are branches of one and the same stream” (B. V. Asaf’ev). However, unlike speech, melody uses tones of fixed pitch that are arranged in steps, or musical intervals. The tones of a melody have harmonic structure, as well as a special type of rhythmic organization.
Melody has many components. Because it is possible to concentrate in a single melodic line the action of a scale, harmony, meter, rhythm, and logical ties between parts of a composition, melody dominates other elements of music. The rich complex of all these elements of music in one voice is perceived as melody.
The melodic line is the most specific component of melody. Its rise and fall can be interpreted as a reflection of changes in the state of mind engendering the melody. Thus, upward motion is associated with an upsurge of emotions, and downward motion, with a quietening. The structure of melody is based on the interaction of the purposeful motion of a stream of sounds with the pitch, meter, rhythm, and structural conditions of its setting. The natural interaction between the energy of the line and the direction of melodic motion determines the most ancient model of melody, the descending line that begins with a high tone (“the peak is the source,”according to L. A. Mazel’) and ends with a downward movement or a drop to a lower foundation. However, strictly onward motion is considered primitive and has little aesthetic appeal. Ornamentation of the motion, which veils its complexities and moments of contrast, makes a melody artistically interesting. The tones of the melodic trunk acquire branches, whose outlines impart flexibility, richness, and aesthetic expressiveness to the whole.
The true source and inexhaustible treasury of melody is folk music. Old peasant melodies, whose appeal lies in their stately, epic clarity and depth of feeling, are a most valuable part of Russian folk music.
The melodies of the Gregorian chant, as opposed to the ancient chant, is characterized by the renunciation of dance movement and by concentration on the meaning of the text, on lofty meditation. The rhythmic system is not rigid and depends on the articulation of the text.
Typologically, ancient Russian singing is parallel to the Western Gregorian chant, but in intonation it is radically different. Melodies by the ancient Russian masters are a valuable part of the Russian cultural heritage.
Modern European (including Russian) melodies (up to the 20th century) has been based not on ancient modes (as was medieval melodies) but on the major-minor system. Aesthetically, the melodies of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Wagner, Glinka, Tchaikovsky, and Mussorgsky aimed at a more complete revelation of the human personality, the individual.
Twentieth-century melodies is extremely diverse, drawing on the archaic forms of the most ancient folk music (I. F. Stravinsky, B. Bartok) or using the techniques of the newest systems of musical composition (A. Webern, K. Stockhausen, P. Boulez, E. V. Denisov, A. G. Shnitke, and R. K. Shchedrin, for example).
REFERENCESShishov, I. “K voprosu ob analize melodicheskogo stroeniia.” Muzykal’noe obrazovanie, 1927, nos. 1-2, 3-4.
Toch, E. Uchenie o melodii, Moscow, 1928. (Translated from German.) Beliaeva-Ekzempliarskaia, S., and B. lavorskii. Struktura melodii. Moscow, 1929.
Kurt, E. Osnovy linearnogo kontrapunkta. Moscow, 1931. (Translated from German.)
Mazel’, L. O melodii. Moscow, 1952.
Uspenskii, N. Drevnerusskoe pevcheskoe iskusstvo, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1971.
Riemann, H. Neue Schule der Melodik. Hamburg, 1883.
Schenker, H. Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Vienna-Zurich-London, 1956.
Szabolcsi, B. Bausteine zu einer Geschichte der Melodie. Budapest, 1959.
IU. N. KHOLOPOV