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The Double-period
Distinction Between Bipartite And Tripartite Forms
Lesson 4
The Sonatine Form
The Exposition
The Recapitulation
T The Second Rondo Form
The Third Rondo Form
The Necessity Of Form In Music

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The Exposition
The Recapitulation
2 Abbreviation Of The Regular Form
4 Mixture Of Characteristic Traits
Modification Or Disguising Of The Cadence
The Trio Or Subordinate Song
Relation To The Three-part Song-form

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The Principal Song
The Phrase-group
The First Rondo-form
Length Of The Regular Phrase
The Song-form Or The Part-form
Unity And Variety
Lesson 15
The Development Or Middle Division
Lesson 14


Any succession of single tones is a melody. If we strike
the keys of the piano with two or more fingers of each hand
simultaneously, we produce a body of tones, which--if they are so
chosen that they blend harmoniously--is called a Chord; and a series of
such chords is an illustration of what is known as Harmony. If,
however, we play with one finger only, we produce a melody. The human
voice, the flute, horn,--all instruments capable of emitting but one
tone at a time,--produce melody.

Melody constitutes, then, a line of tones. If, as we have said, Time
is the canvas upon which the musical images are thrown, Melodies are
the lines which trace the design or form of these images. This
indicates the extreme importance of the melodic idea in music form.
Without such tone-lines the effect would be similar to that of daubs
or masses of color without a drawing, without the evidence of contour
and shape.

A good melody, that is, a melody that appeals to the intelligent
music lover as tuneful, pleasing, and intelligible, is one in which,
first of all, each successive tone and each successive group of tones
stands in a rational harmonic relation to the one before it, and even,
usually, to several preceding tones or groups. In other words, the
tones are not arranged haphazard, but with reference to their
harmonious agreement with each other. For a model of good melody,
examine the very first sentence in the book of Beethoven's pianoforte

The tones bracketed a, if struck all together, unite and blend in one
harmonious body, so complete is the harmonic agreement of each
succeeding tone with its fellows; the same is true of the group marked
c. The tones bracketed b and d do not admit of being struck
simultaneously, it is true, but they are all parts of the same key (F
minor), and are closely and smoothly connected; hence their
concurrence, though not one of harmony (chord), is one of intimate tone
relation and proximity. Further, the whole group marked 2 corresponds
in its linear formation, its rising, poising and curling, exactly to
the preceding group, marked 1. This, then, is a good
melody,--tuneful, interesting, intelligible, striking and absolutely

In the second place, the tones and groups in a good melody are measured
with reference to harmony of time-values; that is, their metric
condition, and their rhythmic arrangement, corroborate the natural laws
already defined:--uniformity of fundamental pulse, uniform recurrence
of accent, and sufficient regularity of rhythmic figure to insure a
distinct and comprehensible total impression. This also may be
verified in the time-values of Ex. 5. Scrutinize also, the melodic and
rhythmic conditions of Exs. 1 and 2,--and the examples on later
pages,--and endeavor to vindicate their classification as good
melodies. Ex. 4, though an exposition of irregular rhythm, is none the
less excellent on that account; on the contrary, this irregularity,
because wisely balanced by sufficient evidence of harmonious and
logical agreement, only heightens the beauty and effectiveness of the

* * * * * *

Whenever whole bodies of tone are played successively, a number of
melody lines are being described,--as many, in fact, as there are tones
in each body. For example, in playing a hymn-tune we describe (on the
keyboard) the four separate melodies known as the soprano, alto, tenor
and bass voices. In a duet, unaccompanied, there are two melodic
lines; if accompanied, other melodic lines are added to these. Thus we
recognize the same system of associated lines in music as in
architecture or drawing. Very rarely indeed does one single unbroken
line portray a complete image.

But in music, as in drawing, the lines differ in their degrees of
importance and prominence; and, very commonly, one line over-shadows
all, or nearly all the rest. This strongest tone-line is therefore apt
to be designated, somewhat unfairly, the melody (the tune or air
is more just). But, at all events, this predominating melodic line is
the most important factor of the form, the one upon which the
definition and recognition of the form depend; and it is therefore
necessary that the student learn to distinguish it, to acquire the
habit of centring his attention upon it,--in reading, listening to, or
analyzing music; and, in playing, to give it the emphasis it requires.

The importance of a tone-line depends solely upon its conspicuousness.
The principal melody--the Melody--is the one which is most salient,
which most attracts the hearer's attention. For this reason the
composer is induced to place his chief melody above the rest of the
tone-lines, because the uppermost tone strikes the ear more acutely
than the lower ones, and therefore the succession of highest tones
constitutes a conspicuous line that attracts and impresses the sense
most keenly.

Here then, at the top of the harmonic tone-complex, we look for the
chief melody; and here it will be found,--excepting when arbitrary
emphasis (by accentuation) is imparted to some lower tone-line, so that
it, for the time being, assumes a prominence equal, or superior, to
that of the uppermost line. (This divided prominence is seen in the
18th Song Without Words--the duet.)

Next: Lesson 2

Previous: Rhythm

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