*Enhance Piano Melody with Music Rhythm

Have you ever wondered what makes a piano melody so memorable? Or why some songs stick in your head more often than other songs? What makes a piano melody catchy and permanently imprinted in your mind? A large portion of the answer is due to the music rhythm accompanying the piano melody.

It’s interesting that music rhythm is rarely acknowledged in regards to piano melody when it plays a crucial role in creating the melodies. Many composing guides leave the melody music rhythm unexplored. I think most assume that the music rhythm comes naturally when composing the piano melody.

Melody music rhythm is as powerful accompaniment as the harmony. Like harmony, the rhythm of the piano melody can make a song sound upbeat, happy, or gloomy and slow. Music rhythm is so powerful, that changing the rhythm of a well-known song can make it unrecognizable to the listener.
How can you use music rhythm to enhance your piano melody? Music is all about creating tension, rising towards some sort of climax, and then releasing the tension. Music rhythm can be used to enhance this process. The purpose of music rhythm is the same as the purpose of harmony. It’s used to create tension, so that there can be relaxation. As discussed in *Unrestrained Melody Composition, there are some tones that are expected. Similarly, there are rhythms that are expected.

Unexpected Music Rhythm

Unexpected rhythms enhance the process of creating tension when rising to a climax. The unexpected music rhythm causes the audience to be surprised, and the surprise causes them to listen more intently. (This is a good thing when rising to a climax)

Expected Music Rhythm
Expected Music Rhythm

In the above picture, the notes with the dots below them are more expected than their counterparts because they fall on the main beats. When counting, 1,2,3,4, the notes that fall directly on the numbers are more expected than playing in between the numbers. In other words, to create an unexpected rhythm, play notes on the offbeat.

Expected Music Rhythm

In the relaxation process, you can use an expected rhythm to enhance the release. Notes that fall on the dots above are expected; the audience is more accustom to hearing notes played at that time. So when you are descending or relaxing from a climax, a regular beat can help the release. Twilight March is an example of one of our songs that reaches a climax with an irregular beat, followed with a very steady release and relaxation. The climax is towards the end of the song.

Next time you are stuck at the keyboard, attempting to compose, try varying the music rhythm of the notes. Your ears might be surprised at the unexpected piano melody.