When I gave my little talk on composition, a question was asked about what is the meaning of structure in music? As often happens when teaching, the answer I gave became a moment when many things came together to form one clear, perfect concept.
You see, I always look to extract core concepts out of whatever music I study, and not just the surface elements. This way I can assimilate the essence without resorting to plagiarism or locking myself in to a single approach.
Melody writing is important to me and has been on my mind for years, and even more so recently.
I have analyzed large amounts of melodies, dug deeply to understand how the composer thought while writing them and why the melodies work.
I have devoured music psychology books to try to understand how the listener perceives music. How I perceive music!
All these ideas floating in my head came together in that classroom to form a very simple concept of melody writing.
Simple, yes. Truths are usually simple and appear self-evident.
And here it is, the condensed version. I’ll let you figure out the details. (I feel like I should charge for this.)
First, let’s talk Gestalt Theory for a second. The human mind is wired to perceive patterns. Patterns are perceived as beautiful.
What shape do you see above? See, your brain makes it a square and it is almost impossible for you to only see four little dots.
Now imagine that each of these dots is a motive and that the shape is the phrase. You can organize these dots/motives to form any kind of shape you wish, (as long as it has order and is perceivable as a shape.)
Think of The Barber of Seville, Beethoven’s Fifth or Indiana Jones and you will see what I mean.
Now pay up!