Does Melody Even Matter??

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Hey Guys,
I wanted to open up this discussion on melody. Does it even matter?
Check out my thoughts on it here and would love to hear what you think!
Hi there,

You like your spiccato..I don´t know..what to say to that video. But maybe rename it: How to produce an epic mediocre music track with samples. I most of the time disagree with such weak assessment you present here which is very superficial and your example isn´t even showing me any little point why melody doesn´t matter. In fact it just shows me the exact opposite. I am sorry, really..you know I could have written: Oh thank you for your video, yeah your music track definitely proves your thesis, but its not for me. Sorry man, I simply can´t because I sit here and see a guy hammering some random lines in his daw without any purpose and touching anything which would tell the audience about why to reject melodic cohesive context. Man..and there are so many great examples from repertoire which you could have featured worth a presentation, instead your example proves why we have such bad written and ineffective music out there. Its just my opinion for sure, but you asked about feedback so I give here my assessment.

And don´t get me wrong: Its nothing against you personally of course.
 
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Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
Alexander doesn't screw around :grin:

But I agree. The role of the melody in music, and whether you need it or not, is a complex discussion. In a sense, melody is everything - but Slayer didn't need melody.

However, the only thing that the example in this video proves is that you can full well write music without melody and have it sound like your average fare epic media fart. Not sure that was in dispute in the first place. The message seems to be: no, you don't have to think about melodies or anything. Just write some bullshit like this, somebody's gonna eat it up anyway! Not sure that was intended. So yeah, it's kind of counterproductive and seems to encourage people to just don't give a damn and confidently produce bad music - melodic or not.
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Alexander doesn't screw around :grin:

But I agree. The role of the melody in music, and whether you need it or not, is a complex discussion. In a sense, melody is everything - but Slayer didn't need melody.

However, the only thing that the example in this video proves is that you can full well write music without melody and have it sound like your average fare epic media fart. Not sure that was in dispute in the first place. The message seems to be: no, you don't have to think about melodies or anything. Just write some bullshit like this, somebody's gonna eat it up anyway! Not sure that was intended. So yeah, it's kind of counterproductive and seems to encourage people to just don't give a damn and confidently produce bad music - melodic or not.
And Slayer has done great songs, definitely I enjoy them. I wished he would approached that subject very different.
 

mikeh-375

old school
Melody isn't necessary in some cases to be fair - mainly in media applications - but try being a composer of orchestral music and not have it, at all. Most orchestral music will have a sense of line and momentum and whilst rhythm can do this, it's pretty hard to not come up with even a riff to sustain interest in extended writing generally speaking. That riff might be harmonic in nature, but is still something to hang one's hat on. Don't forget inner part writing, counterpoint, foreground/background writing etc, all needing a sense of line and musicality that a good melodic sense can impart. So maybe a cue or two can be all hands down to the keys to play footballs (semibreves), but as composers, we need more than that.

Nothing provocative at all here, if you agree with the thread title, you are not a good orchestral or instrumental composer imv, and if you want to be, you need to go back to school.
 
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gregh

Senior Member
Melody isn't necessary in some cases to be fair - mainly in media applications - but try being a composer of orchestral music and not have it, at all. Most orchestral music will have a sense of line and momentum and whilst rhythm can do this, it's pretty hard to not come up with even a riff to sustain interest in extended writing generally speaking. That riff might be harmonic in nature, but is still something to hang one's hat on. Don't forget inner part writing, counterpoint, foreground/background writing etc, all needing a sense of line and musicality that a good melodic sense can impart. So maybe a cue or two can be all hands down to the keys to play footballs (semibreves), but as composers, we need more than that.

Nothing provocative at all here, if you agree with the thread title, you are not a good orchestral or instrumental composer imv, and if you want to be, you need to go back to school.
that's sepcial case of orchestral you raise though - there has been a stack of orchestral music for decades where meldoy is not central. Sure in the commercial world of film or whatever it is important, and also in some aspects of the classical concert scene - but by no means is it a universal - it's justone of the aspects of music to be used, or not

I'm not hostile to melody - I love melody
 
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CGR

Pianist, Composer & Arranger
This thread reminds me of the story of the BBC2 TV series called 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' - the title of which was derived from the fact that if the Old-Grey-Coated-Cleaners at the BBC were whistling a melody they heard on a BBC2 music programme following a recent broadcast, it was almost certain to be a hit.
 

DivingInSpace

Active Member
But I agree. The role of the melody in music, and whether you need it or not, is a complex discussion. In a sense, melody is everything - but Slayer didn't need melody.
If we are talking about the thrash metal band Slayer, most, if not all, of their "hit songs" mostly became popular because of iconic melodies, the melodies being in the riff. Raining Blood has a pretty strong and iconic melody, and same goes for South of Heaven.
 

muk

Senior Member
That c-d-f-e is a very unfortunate choice of an example. First of all, it is a motif, not a melody. The result you get from using that motif is simplistic. It may be polished production-wise, but there is no musical content to speak of.

And that's where the second point comes in why it is such a bad choice of an example. Because somebody has written some of the greatest music of all time with that exact same motif - c-d-f-e. It's not a fair comparison by any means - everybody's music can't do anything but pale in comparison. Hence, really poor choice of a motif.

Compare this:


to this:


The rest of the video doesn't answer the question in the title at all. In fact, it doesn't even start to consider it in my opinion.
 
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Illico

Samuel Le Tonquèze
..
Compare this:
..
with this:.
Depending to your audience... if it's VI-Control, you probably keep Mozart one. If it's Teens the first one is good. If you want to stuck a melody on mind, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it, repeat it....in different ways, it's much more cool.
 

Jimmy Hellfire

Senior Member
If we are talking about the thrash metal band Slayer, most, if not all, of their "hit songs" mostly became popular because of iconic melodies, the melodies being in the riff. Raining Blood has a pretty strong and iconic melody, and same goes for South of Heaven.
If you define any interval change as essentially melody, yes. :grin:
 

mikeh-375

old school
that's sepcial case of orchestral you raise though - there has been a stack of orchestral music for decades where meldoy is not central. Sure in the commercial world of film or whatever it is important, and also in some aspects of the classical concert scene - but by no means is it a universal - it's justone of the aspects of music to be used, or not

I'm not hostile to melody - I love melody
True enough Greg. But even in works where melody isn't part of the expression or featured, a sense of line (which one could reasonably consider a form of melody), or purpose and impetus in the individual parts (orchestral that is) is still needed if only from a practical viewpoint. This purpose could also be reasonably said to be melodic in a way. I think we should all develop a sense of line in our musical thinking and that comes about by thinking melodically too even if the line is an inner part.
Still, all said we are in agreement and I was as you say, referring to a few specific genres of music.
 

Ledwick

Member
The track still has harmonic movement...

To summarize the video, you're basically playing an AC DC style chord progression on the guitar and saying "did I write a song?" Well yes, technically...

Rather than the click bait title, just be honest and say what your implying, "What's the least amount of work required to make something people like". The answer is none, nothing requires any work because someone, somewhere will like it. It's actually a positive message when you think about it.

I'm looking forward to the next video... "Do notes even matter?"

Keep up the good work! :thumbsup:
 

DS_Joost

One day I'll fly away!
Depends on what you are trying to create. I think melody matters absolutely, and can truly help create a sense of progression in a story where it sometimes is sorely needed.

However, I think that this video touches upon another concept that honestly, I do not understand at all, and I see it pop up all the time:

The ability of some composers to write a cue completely in a vacuum.

So, how does that relate to your question?

The thing I see in many modern composers, and for me the reason why many cues sound so generic and lifeless, is because they are devoid of context. I cannot for the life of me understand how someone can sit down behind their computer and say 'well today I am going to write something sad and epic'.

Why I don't understand it, is that I cannot just force myself to write something like that. It needs more. It needs a reason to exist. Whether that is an emotion, or a grander idea, there needs to be context for a cue, for me at least, to exist. What am I trying to tell people, what is the story? Without a story, it's just a bunch of noise. And there is a lot of noise out there.

You play a simple string of notes and ask yourself; is this good?

Without context, I wouldn't know. Because I don't know what it's trying to say to me.

If I want to tell a story, I need a melody. A strong one, one that can be bend, twisted, manipulated. I need to be able to play with it's accompanying harmony, need to be able to transpose, modulate and turn it around. Because doing so is actually telling the story. In the simplest terms: for me, in order to tell a story, I need to be able to switch a melody from triumphant to sad, to happy, to mysterious at the drop of a hat. But without context whatsoever, I am creating a melody in a vacuum. It doesn't tell me anything. It's nothing more than a bunch of good sounding notes stringed together. Sure it's loud. And I feel... well... something. But that's it.

That is why melody matters. Because for me, it tells a story that I want to tell through the way I can manipulate it.