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The Death of Melody


summer of pickles and IPA beer
If you think about it, imposing a melody means imprinting a POV. And not all stories are enhanced with that approach. But even High Concept Scripted drama requires 'something' more then an ambiguous underscore.

I also think more and more that it's all out there, it's just not always in the limelight. I like melody personally, I don't like working on stuff that asks me to be anonymous. But's that's just personal.

Melody is hard to sell at times, asking so much of your storyteller and stakeholders, imho.


Gato Mighty!
There may be a ray of hope if the lawsuits continue, thus forcing a return to more nuanced, singular melodies... but who will write them, who can write them?

And more importantly, would modern listeners embrace a return to Steely Dan and company?


Senior Member
Went the way of guitar solos.

It seems that a large number of people want a lot of space in their music now. It allows them to fill in their own details.
Totally. That’s what a lot of minimalism is to me. You just end up hypnotized by the waves coming and it becomes more about you and less about the music. The phrase or chord progression you just heard playing again and again just reinforces the idea as a great one bc it’s one you already know.


Senior Member
It's not just that the melodies are missing, or are generally weak. Everything's missing. I sometimes hear pop music somewhere and I'm always completely taken aback and appalled. I tend to forget how bad it really is, but that's just the state of mind out there in the outside world.

Can't say I really care. Pop music isn't music. It's not meant to be, and it's not what the target audience is interested in. It's sonication and low-level animation of absent-minded and lowbrow masses. It's like debating the finer points of preparation, taste and nutrition values of fast food. Seems just of out place.
The fast food thing is funny. Pop music is an easy target. But, "pop music isn't music"? That's a pretty giant statement. There's a pretty enormous amount of music that falls under that category. I can't help smirking a bit too considering some of the bands you like (which I like too) because I well know many would make the same criticism about them.

One other thought, I am guessing most of the people saying that melody is dead in pop music aren't the biggest consumers of pop music and therefore perhaps not the best suited to make that assertion. Ok, I agree that there is a bunch of modern pop without good melodies, but imo that has always been true.

Well, no more defending pop music from me. That one response video that was posted did a much better job than I ever could of making a coherent argument...


... i am a robot ...
This argument is at least 100-400 hundred years old.

@Jimmy Hellfire gets it. Pop music is not an end in itself - it's one facet of a 360° product (marketing jargon) designed to sell to kids to help them face/explain/relate to their hormonally-driven angst and inner conflicts. It's time-sensitive cultural ephemera. It also is, or was, huge business, so an entire industry of extremely skilled practitioners has grown up around it with the result that much of it can be appreciated in its own right. Melody is not 'dying', that's a preposterous notion. A single note melody is still a deliberate melodic choice reflecting cultural resonances that the target audience will appreciate - even if they don't know why. A new fashion will arise at some point - it always does.

Nick Batzdorf

There was a period around the late '70s when it was a dig on a composer to say he/she used chords and melody.

Seriously, I read that more than once!


Senior Member
Please watch this video and question if the video you linked should be used in any type of qualifed argument about (pop) music.
Good video! A while ago I thought thoughty2 had some interesting content, but in the meantime I arrived at the conclusion that I better stop and close his videos before he has finished saying his name, when I accidentally click on one. It's scary how many subscribers he got with that nonsense.

Thanks for typing Billie Eilish, I didn't know who she was, I just opened the first result: Bad guy. awesome song.
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Senior Member
Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Wrong,

Total shit. Don't get your learning from youtube videos. Bedroom Philosophy.
I'm surprised you had such an aggressive response to this. For what it's worth, I thought that many of the core concepts of the video, as well as the reference music (Tchaikovsky), were really solid. Certainly good food for compositional thought. Do you have an alternate structure to thinking about melody, philosophically?



I'm asking this question innocently, not because I know the answer, but because I'm interested in your opinions.

As many of you make it, do you think contemporary trailer music is driven more by sound design and the rhythm of big drums or by melody? What do clients want?

Sometimes--definitely not always--I watch six trailers in the theatre and feel like they all sound like the same movie. This tends to happen when I go to an action or horror movie and they string together trailers that are the same genre.

Here's THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS trailer from 1966, which is a very intense film, with a lot of violence. Do you think it would have been done differently today? (Music credit is shared by Ennio Morricone and director Gillo Pontecorvo)


Nick Batzdorf

This may be obvious, but musical styles (or any other styles) will never be permanent until history freezes.

We had 12-tone music, ah-tonal music, and minimalism last century. And free jazz during the civil rights era. Minimalism. (Today we have pushbutton music. Oy.)

What was/is going on during all those periods? "Traditional" melody came and went.
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fantasy sound

New Member
Leonard Meyer's books, as douggibson mentioned, are quite nice to read.
I just remembered having read his "Style and Music" and enjoyed a lot.
His "gap-fill" concept is well established, and to me it seems to be one of a few persuasive theories that can logically explain how good melodies in classical music actually work.

Nick Batzdorf

Another random thought about melody: you can study certain things about it and internalize adages like "reach for a wide leap when you're stuck." And you can certainly learn things like macro-form (whatever you'd call that), recognize that a passage is an episode, and so on.

There are also techniques for when you're stuck, like reharmonizing an existing melody and then writing a countermelody to it as your melody.

But I'll wager that almost every great "traditional" melody came to the person who wrote it in real time, without a lot of analysis of the intervals. It might have come after the chords, and the composer may have known what scale he/she was using, but I can't imagine thinking analytically about what's going on the same way you might with other aspects of music.

I can come up with arguments to that, but I think it's true.
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