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Thread: What role does melody play in 2020???

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    What role does melody play in 2020???

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    (Instrumental melodies, not vocal melodies)

    A lot of people say that melody is dead, but I disagree…. I think what we emphasize in melody has just evolved... I feel like the timbre/design of the sound playing the melody makes a bigger impact on how a melody is perceived than the actual sequence of pitch and rhythm that makes up the melody. What do you guys think??? How important is the sequence of notes in a melody compared to the quality of sound used?

    It also seems like melodies are used less as the focal point of songs, but used as less emphasized elements that add character to a song, especially in hip hop. Once the drums and bass come in, it’s sometimes hard to even hear the melodic elements of the instrumental.

    I guess what I’m asking is what power does melody, regardless of timbre, play in music today (In your opinion)??

    I'm asking, because I’m trying to gauge how much time I should put into understanding how to create melodies based on scales, chords etc… If it only has minimal importance I’d obviously rather spend my time on more important things.

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    In my opinion - and this is a bit of an opinion piece, lol - the answer is totally dependent on the genre you're trying to compose in. There's certainly a family of modern genres where melody's importance is deprecated, and I suspect some of it has to do with the the fact that everyone has access to beat-making tools such as Maschine and so on. These tend to constrain composers (the lazy ones, at least) to focus on what you can do in 4 or 8 measures of 4 beats; so there's a lot of music around which, in my opinion, is more technology-driven than actually artistic, where the scope for originality is in how weird the samples are and not a lot else.

    I think it's a mark of a good artist that he or she can break out of the lazy-making constraints of the technology, and produce something structured, interesting and musical where technology serves the artist rather than the other way around. There's sooo much music which sounds cool because sample libraries are good, and beat-making tools are easy to use, but which is artistically empty. And, in my opinion, melody and harmonic interest (good chord progressions) are the first victims of this approach to music-making. After all, if you're going to produce music by hitting some buttons every 4 measures, that's too short a time to develop melodies and harmonies. Even good chord progressions get boring if they're repeated 16 times...

    To be fair, it also depends on the function of the music. If it's being composed to be played super loud at 1 am in an ecstasy-soaked club, melody and harmony don't matter a whole lot. Nor does structure and "musical argument", since all that really counts is the beat and the light show. I guess it depends on what audience you're trying to reach. Me, I'm too rooted in classical music and prog rock to be able to find any satisfaction in music that's nothing more than a tightly produced beat with sounds spun in. Example: YouTube - an hour and 40 minutes where the music says nothing. However, if that's the genre you're aiming for, then no, you don't need to focus on learning harmony and melody.

    So, like I said at the beginning, the importance of melody and harmony is very dependent on the genre you're targeting. There are plenty of genres around (Disney shows, almost any jazz, cinematic, hipster, folk, even prog is still around) where melody and harmony considerations haven't gone away. The real question, my mind, is whether a composer who selects a genre is simply picking up the tools and aping the popular style, or is actually trying to do something original. Without melody and harmony, originality may be hard to achieve. And I'm not advocating originality for the sake of originality. It's just that originality (or maybe creativity is a better word) is where art becomes infused with strength, structure and meaning.

    If you do find you're interested in getting an ear for harmony and melody, the important thing is to listen to music that uses it, so you get a feel for what makes for strong harmonic and melodic toolsets. Classical is an obvious place to start - try something like Shostakovich's 5th symphony, or a late Dvorak symphony (8 or 9). I cut my teeth listening to early Mike Oldfield, such as Ommadawn and Incantations, which has had a huge influence on how I approach melody, simply because my brain works that way now. And there are of course, plenty of materials on YouTube to introduce you to how chords work.

    In the end, it's actually down to the capacity of the neural networks in your brain, and listening to music you're unfamiliar with is developing those networks. If you opt not to dive into harmony and melody, you'll be constrained in the scope of composition you can achieve, simply because you'll be missing the tools that - in my opinion - make music able to say something.

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    I feel like it still has a role to play if it sounds good enough

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    if we are talking about electronic music, I think that some styles (like dubstep) don't care much about melody. Other styles, like progressive house, still do.

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    Melody imo is crucial.

    I am just starting out. But a grasp of the basics goes a long way.

    Been using this app that helps me pick and choose my scales.


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