How to Embellish Your Melody

Embellishing a melody is a common technique used to repeat the same theme or phrase without the phrase becoming a bore. Adding small alterations allows the composer to play the main theme multiple times, which makes the composition memorable for the audience without boring them. There are three common methods of embellishing a melody. You can embellish the rhythm, notes , or harmony.

Embellishing Rhythm

This is the simplest way of embellishing a piece. You simply change a long melodic pause into shorter notes. For example you might change a melodic whole note into four quarter notes. This gives the melody more movement when you play it multiple times. Also, this gives a sense of the melody speeding up which increases tension and is a great way to climb towards a climax.

Embellishing Notes

Another method to embellish a melody is by adding approaching notes and neighboring notes. This technique is generally combined with embellishing rhythm. The embellished note can be added to a long pause in the melody. Instead of a whole note, you could add an interesting rhythmic piece leading up to the next note. In this manner, the overall melody is unchanged, but the melody is fuller. Also, you can add notes below the melody. This is illustrated below and is another way to add depth and power to your melody.

Embellish Melody

This is the simple melody without any embellishing.

The simple melody is embellished with additional notes in this example. To further embellish the melody, we could change the half notes into quarter or eighth notes. We could also add passing and approaching notes between the main melodic notes.

Embellishing Harmony

As discussed in *How to Harmonize a Melody, the harmony plays an important role in setting the mood for the composition. An interesting way of embellishing the phrase is by changing the chord progression. For example, you might play the melody with an underlying major chord progression. The second time the melody is played, if you change the underlying chord progression into minor chords, the phrase sounds very different. This keeps the melody from sounding too repetitive.

The three techniques discussed above can help embellish your melody if you wish to repeat it. Repeating your melody is encouraged because it makes your composition more memorable for the audience, but it is not necessary. Even with the embellishments, be wary of repeating your melody excessively. A song consists of more than just one short repeated melody.