Music melody is defined as a rhythmically organized sequence of single tones so related to one another as to make up a particular phrase or idea. When I first read this, I just said “huh?” However, the definition does bring up some important points. The melody is organized with related tones. A memorable music melody is logical; it’s not just a conglomeration of random notes.
There are two main ways of composing music melodies. One way is by starting with a melodic outline, such as the one below, and then adding passing and pickup tones. The second method has no melodic outline.
Note: this melody is nothing; I just created it to illustrate the differences between passing and approach notes. This also illustrates that even if you follow the rules you can create dull melodies. Something more that is needed for a melody, an emotional tug, a desire to weep or dance, an element that takes an initiative and intuition that cannot be taught. Or can it? Click artificial intelligence composing music for an interesting article about artificial intelligence composing original pieces.
(Structural Tones with Added Passing and Pickup tones)
A passing tone is a note that connects two pitches by stepwise motion. The notes in measure 5 would be passing notes. G and D are the main structural tones, while the F and E are the passing notes. The passing notes are used to add tension to the piece. The tension is later resolved by a pleasing harmonic tone. To learn more about how to add tension to a composition, please visit *How to Add Tension to Your Melody.
A pickup tone is a note that leads to one of the structural tones. In every measure above, there is a pickup note on the forth beat. These pickup tones can either be a step away from the structural tones (this is more common), or they can be a leap away from the structural tone. When they are a leap away from the structural tone, the approach note is usually harmonically pleasing with the structural tone. For example, in measure 3, a D jumps up to a F. Both of these notes have a strong harmonic relationship with an underlying D minor chord. The melodic outline method is useful in constructing a roadmap for your composition, but I believe the second method allows for better sounding melodies.
The second method is unrestrained, meaning there is no melodic outline. I prefer the second way because you can rely more on your ear, rather than having a pre-framed structure that your music melody has to fit into. The framework approaches allows for an easier time composing, but the second way, gives you more freedom to use your creativity.