Melody is the main idea of a song or composition. It is usually the piece of the music that sticks with you and you sing it over again when the song has ended. It’s how you remember a song. If you think of music as a body then melody would be the face. It’s what you remember about that person.

A melody can be a few notes or a long set of notes strung together or broken apart. These notes can be either tied or separated and the following terms describe these differences:

Melismatic/Legato (vocal/instrumental) – when the notes or syllables of a melody are tied together

Syllabic/Staccato (vocal/instrumental) – when the syllables/notes of a melody are accented and separated

Some other ways melodies are constructed are by using the following:

  • Scale – a system of notes that move in a stepwise motion
  • Pattern – a numerically based set of notes usually derived from a scale
  • Phrase – a short complete musical thought is usually 1-4 measures in length
  • Riff – a repeated rhythmic phrase usually based around the blues scale
  • Arpeggio – the outline of the notes that make up a chord that are played separately in rhythm and is sometimes referred to as a “broken chord”