Types of Melodic Phrases

Jonathan Peters
A free video tutorial from Jonathan Peters
Award-winning Composer
4.6 instructor rating • 7 courses • 20,011 students

Lecture description

In this lecture you will learn that there are only three types of melodic phrases and study the characteristics of each. You will also learn about stable and unstable tones, how to distinguish them, their characteristics and how they are used in the formation of each melodic phrase type.

Learn more from the full course

Music Composition 1

Learn how to compose well-written rhythms and melodies

02:03:45 of on-demand video • Updated November 2020

  • By the end of the course you will be able to compose your own rhythms and melodies. This includes motifs, phrases, periods and phrase groups.
  • You will also learn how to develop your rhythmic and melodic material through a wide variety of compositional techniques.
  • You will get practice transcribing music (hearing rhythms and melodies and then writing them down in notation form).
  • You will get practice notating music using music notation software.
  • You will be prepared to study harmony and form in Music Composition 2
English [Auto] When we studied rhythm we found that there are three basic types of phrases. Those that suggest continuation those that suggest a temporary repots and those that suggest finality these three types of phrases also applied to melody as we shall see momentarily. But before we can discuss these three types of melodic phrases we need to first learn a little bit about Stabil tones and unstable tones. When a piece is written in a particular key the stable tones are the pitches that form the tonic chord of that G. For example a piece in the key of C Major will have for its stable tones that pitches 1 3 and 5 C and G. Here is a C major scale and its stable tones. Pitch one is called the tonic pitch. It is always the most stable tone in any particular key pitch five is called the dominant pitch. It is the second most stable tone in any particular key. Pitch three is called the median pitch. It is the third most stable tone in any particular key. All of the other tones are considered unstable this brief overview of stable and unstable tones will suffice for our current discussion. We will talk more about them in another lesson. Now that we have learned about stable and unstable times we will observe how they may be used to create different types of melodic phrases. Let's start by looking at a musical example that demonstrates both temporary repose and finality. The following example is the key of G Major the stable tones in G-Major or pitches 1 3 and 5 of the G major scale G B and D. The last note in the fourth measure is therefore a stable tone stable tone be stable tones can suggest either sense of temporary repose or suggest a sense of finality. The weaker stable tones of dominant and mediant usually suggest temporary repose while only the strongest able tone the tonic suggests finality when one is the first phrase. It ends on a weaker stable tone B and C just temporary repose. Line 2 is the second phrase. It ends on the strongest tone G and suggests finality. Must listen. Now let's look at an example that suggests continuation. The following example is also in the key of G major. Once again the stable tones and G-Major or pitches 1 3 and 5 are the G major scale G B and D. The last note in the fourth measure is therefore unstable tone. A unstable tones suggests a sense of continuation since they are not stable. Our ears feel that we are not at rest yet and so we expect the music to continue on till we hear the most stable pitch the tonic pitch. Line 1 is the first phrase that ends on unstable turn a and suggest continuation mind to is the second phrase. It is on the strongest able tone G and suggest finality. Let's listen.