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melody vs harmony

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by yor123, Sep 29, 2002.

  1. yor123


    Mar 29, 2001
    New Orleans
    I enjoy reading Bass Player magazine. Many articles feature artist who throw around the words melody and harmony almost interchangably. Could someone offer their definitions of these two words?
    Maybe its me, but I thought each had its own distinct meaning. Are there situations where they both refer to the same thing?
  2. incognito89x

    incognito89x ♪♫♪ ♪ ♪ ♫&#983

    Sep 22, 2002
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    Melody is the main tune, the most emphasized part.

    Harmony is a part that's made to help emphasize the Melody

    THe only example I can think of offhand (besdies all classical music pieces) is listen to Aerials from System of a Down.

    At the end, Serj is singing (the part with no lyrics) what would be the melody. And Daron (guitarist) is sing what would be the harmony.

    I think that's correct, though I may be wrong.

    EDIT: Click Here
  3. bplayerofdoom


    Aug 6, 2002
    Heres how I think of it.

    Melody: How it flows, strum pattern, sycopation ect. The part they say teach me that melody.

    Harmony: How it feels, greatly influenced by Chords and how well things fit together. The mood.

    Something like that. Hard to explain but I think I got close because after I looked up the Edit thig above me on his post and its pretty close to that dictionary thig.
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Melody is a succession of single pitches perceived as such. The melody typically implies an orderly succession that establishes some key and leads to a clearly recognizable conclusion in the key. Melodies usually imply certain accompanying harmonies. The tonal structure of such melodies is also intimately related to their rhythmic and metrical structure, with the result that in Western tonal music, melody, rhythm, meter, and harmony are fundamentally inseparable..

    Harmony is the aspect of music consisting of simultaneously sounded pitches. Any collection of pitches sounded either simultaneously or in such a way as to cause them to function as a simultaneity.

    (The above was interpreted from "Harvard Concise Dictionary of Music")

    Harmony can be thought of often as the foundation of the song. This is usually done by a progression of certain chords that can create tension and release. Think of the I-IV-V chords in a standard blues progression as the harmony, with tension and resolution in the structure. Melody is more often a series of single pitches that directly correspond to the harmony, with recognizable or repeated intervals or "shapes" quite often, but not always. In simpler terms, the melody is quite often the part of the piece that can be hummed or whistled quite easily.
  5. yor123


    Mar 29, 2001
    New Orleans
    Thanks Guys,

    Your definitions are very helpful. I will try to apply them the next time I run accross the terms in different articles.
  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    To simplify what Jazzbro mentioned(nicely done).

    Melody = "Horizontal"(Jazzbo's "orderly succession". Though I would question the "orderly" part on some of the stuff I'm listening to). ;)

    Harmony = "Vertical"(Jazzbo's "simultaneously sounded pitches". Like chords...the notes are stacked "vertically").
  7. Chris A

    Chris A Chemo sucks! In Memoriam

    Feb 25, 2000
    Manchester NH
    Jim K,

    As I was reading Jazzbo's definition, the same vertical/horizontal thing was going through my head.
    Then I scroll down a bit and found you've beaten me to it.

    Chris A.:rolleyes:
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Funny. The horizontal/vertical thing was in my original post, but I edited it out during a proofread.
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    Sorry, way off topic... they'd make good names for twin girls, Melody & Harmony.

    Cheesey, but cool :D

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