A melody is many sindicate explained as a series of pitches sounded in succession, however this interpretation does not describe how melodies are built and just how they attribute in music. In this section we will explore the idea of melody in greater detail and discuss the relationships between melodies and also accompaniments, the sounds expected to support and enhance melodies.

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Contour describes the linear activity of a melody up and dvery own. Does it mostly ascfinish or descend? Does it come ago to the very same pitch on which it began? Does the melody use big intervals or small ones?


When melodies relocate by entirety or fifty percent actions (like a scale), this is conjunct movement. Movement in bigger intervals is called disjunct activity. Most melodies combine the two, as in this instance from "Twinkle, Twinkle". In this melody the contour begins with a leap upwards (disjunct motion), then a gradual descent utilizing smaller intervals (conjunct motion) that finishes on the original pitch.

Melodic contour is additionally crucial in the background of music notation. Before our present mechanism of notation was developed, musicians sometimes wrote down the contour of a melody in order to remember it. Over time, composers and performers started adding horizontal lines to make certain that as soon as the exact same pitch changed it would be written at the same height, which made their contour drawings more certain, even more exact, and simpler to read. They started via only one line, but they soon started adding more. Sometimes the lines were also color-coded, utilizing red for C and yellow for G, for instance. Color-coding fell out of exercise, but musicians maintained adding lines till tright here were five staff lines, as in our modern-day notation system.


Range refers to the complete array of pitches encompassed in the melody: how high and also low the melody goes. If the score does not show which voice or instrument need to be used to perdevelop the music, the variety can be supplied to aid identify which voices and also tools are proper for use. For example, if the variety has pitches that are too high or too low for a voice then it must be played on an instrument. For even more on instrument arrays, view Timbre.


A motive or motif is the shortest possible melodic unit and may consist of as few as two various pitches, as in Beethoven"s 5th Symphony.

Motives are the musical indistinguishable of a catch expression or slogan and also are regularly supplied in that capacity in commercials. Notice the motive on "by Mennen" and "Hot Pockets" in these commercials:


Motives might likewise be included right into a larger melodic unit: a phrase. Phrases are the musical tantamount of sentences, clauses, or lines of poeattempt. They deserve to be divided by commas in lyrics (for vocal music), breaths (for voices and also wind instruments), rests (silences), or sindicate by the shape of the melody. Phrases tfinish to be lyrical (singable, song-like) even if they are percreated by instruments, and they usually occur in constant lengths.

In musical analysis, phrases are established by lower situation letters: "a" for the first, "b" for the second, and so on If the phrase repeats, the letter is used aget. Also, phrases tend to end via cadences, which are melodic and also harmonic formulas that lug a sense of closure to the expression.

Antecedent and also Consequent Phrases

Two crucial and also interassociated kinds of phrases are antecedent and also consequent phrases. Antecedent and consequent phrases happen once one phrase seems to ask a question (the antecedent) and the other appears to answer it (the consequent). The antecedent phrase sounds unfinimelted or unresolved once it ends because its final pitch is not the tonic pitch. The consequent expression then responds to the antecedent and also finishes via a more powerful feeling of resolution, regularly by landing on the tonic pitch.

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Idiomatic Melodies

When melodies are composed especially for a details instrument or voice, the composer will certainly capitalize on the strengths and also avoid the weaknesses of that instrument or voice. This is referred to as composing idiomatically. For example, some melodies are more suited to instruments than voices: those that use huge leaps (intervals) in between pitches, those that are also high or too low for voices, or those with incredibly quick passeras, for instance. Voices, on the various other hand also, are regularly taken into consideration even more expressive than instruments, especially bereason they are uniquely qualified of perdeveloping lyrics. So, when composers are composing melodies, they consider these strengths and weaknesses and change their compositions appropriately.

Music Notation Glossary

This visual glossary is an excellent reresource for finding out to read music.


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"Music is nothing else yet wild sounds civilized right into time and tune." - Thomas Fuller


"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley

"Music in the soul have the right to be heard by the universe." - Lao Tzu

"Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and ideology." - Ludwig van Beethoven

"Music is the activity of sound to reach the spirit for the education and learning of its virtue." - Plato

"Music expresses that which cannot be shelp and also on which it is difficult to be silent." - Victor Hugo

"Music is nopoint else however wild sounds civilized into time and also tune." - Thomas Fuller