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Thread: Music!! What Makes Good Melody/Song?

  1. #1
    La vie carnivalesque salsainglesa's Avatar
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    Music!! What Makes Good Melody/Song?

    And three, and four... here I go, and i dont know why:

    I have been thinking lately, that being music an abstract art, what makes a melody or a song something good?
    Appart from taste, what are really the ingredients of a catchy tune, or an enjoyable solo. Why is bach so damn good? why do i felt like melting when i hear chopin? why does my head start to bang with some Malmsteen tunes? why does some music is appealing to you and you and you?
    The beggining of this, is that i am trying to write music.. everyday... and I dont get any pleasure from what i write... except for one or two pieces.
    I think that a good standard is try to acomplish something one likes.

    I dont think inspiration is divine.. or if it is, could someone that has expereiced it tell me how it is?

    Music being a language, how do acomplish poetry?

  2. #2
    Experimentalist Koala's Avatar
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    Hey Salsa, a true cientific 100% answer to this question has never been achieved but attempts have been made. I think i could probablly go on for hours on this without getting anywhere so I should just recommend a couple books you might be interested in:

    Music, the brain and ecstasy
    Robert Jourdain

    Emotion and meaning in music
    Leonard B. Meyer

    Theyre both heavy dense exts but worth your time if you want to shed some light onto the psychological/amotional side of music.

    hope this helps,
    Last edited by Koala; 04-02-2004 at 02:37 PM. Reason: gravity

  3. #3
    Metal Messiah Sakkaku's Avatar
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    Music was explained to me in terms of frequency by my music teacher in our last session. The theory behind hertz (A = 440hz) and the other notes and their frequencies... he rambled on about the universe being tuned to Bb, and at that moment, I pretty much switched off... not that I don't like Bb. I think it has a very intriguing tone... but yeah, music is all around us... what appeals to some doesn't appeal to others.

    You can't really say 'metal ONLY appeals to angry teenage boys' although in a majority sense that may be true. I'm no teenage boy, and I still listen. I know people in their late 20's still listening, and chicks too. So I guess it comes down to personality a lot of the time. What appeals to me doesn't appeal to my sister - and we've got the same blood running through our veins....

    Anywho, that didn't really help, so I'll shut my wordhole (or stop typing).
    Sakkaku
    -Gitarrenmeister-

  4. #4
    Firebard RandyEllefson's Avatar
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    When I was getting my Bachelors in classical guitar, a teacher said, quite memorably, that there were a zillion books on every aspect of music, from theory to counterpoint, orchestration, musical form, whatever, often written by the greatest musical minds in history, but there was not one single book written on melody. Ever.

    Maybe he was wrong, but...makes you wonder.

  5. #5
    Metal Messiah Sakkaku's Avatar
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    Well, I have a particular soft spot for melodic metal... especially stuff with crushing interludes and crazy lead breaks.

    But I've never read a book on melody either... it does make me wonder.... (looks at the pile of 200+ music related books) hmmm...
    Sakkaku
    -Gitarrenmeister-

  6. #6
    -boxฮดุฐฒฤฮถดฤณฮดุฐฒ
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    there are some things in music that creates something in peoples heads. Like for a example if you play a -sus chord, the listener will automatically expect that a certain kind of chord will come next. Everybody does this. If this cerain chord doesn't come next, the listener will feel some kind of musical frustration and therefore think that the music isn't good.
    Everybody does this, that includes small kids and people who doesn't have a clue about music theory.

    And another example. If you play two major chords, then it will sound better if the next chord is a minor.

  7. #7
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    This may be true for many listeners who are used to pop music ( where progressions like I-V-VI-IV etc. are used a lot )
    But what about jazz ? I mean, some people might listen to a solo by John Scofield and go "Ick, what is he doing ? Sounds out of tune" or something like that. Others prefer music which has dissonance etc.
    I think it also depends on your background... music you grew up with etc. And that is just ONE aspect.
    I once had this discussion with a friend of mine... what if youd take someone who has grown up in, say, a small tribe of nomads somewhere in the desert. They played music on instruments they made themselves, based on a tonal system they came up with themselves ( maybe something with, say, 17 notes to an octave ).
    Now, take that someone, put him in front of a CD player and let him listen to pop, AOR-rock, easy listening stuff... what would he / she think ? Would he like what he hears ?
    If we ignore the aspect of being confused by the instrumentation and production, would that person like this music that is based on the major scale ? Those simple melodies and chord-progressions ? Or would he be disgusted by the sound of it ?
    I dunno.
    Eric

  8. #8
    -boxฮดุฐฒฤฮถดฤณฮดุฐฒ
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    Eric.. Yeah. you're right. That's why not many people are into jazz. THe most who are usually have some kind of music understanding.

  9. #9
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    my scattered reply

    I think the desert tribesman wouldn't know what to make of a modern western pop melody. Culture is very important component of a piece of music. You have to remember that music is man made. It's not natural in the sense that a bird can sing. Birds can't sing, only people can. Music is an intellectual, physical and spiritual endeavor that requires self awareness and an awareness of time that only humans possess. The reason Bach holds up so well is not because it is timeless but because the melodies and harmonies he used are the same ones we use today. We think of his time as ancient history but in terms of music were not that far removed.
    As far as melody I think the Beatles are fascinating. Look at the chord progressions of "If I Fell" or "Sexy Sadie". They change keys about nine times and make no theoretical sense at all but they're not avant garde pieces they're pop songs. It's crazy.

  10. #10
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    This reminds me of a discussion I had with a friend awhile back. My idea was that someone should hijack Mtv and play nothing but jazz videos. Do that and all the teenyboppers would shift their taste from Britney Spears to Coltrane, etc. Jazz would become a more profitable genre and all this bad mainstream music would disappear (you know, if you offer nothing but crap as a selection, some of that crap will be successful). My friend disagreed, noting that humans are generally attracted to consonance, melody. Jazz has too much dissonance to reach a wide, mainstream audience. He's probably right...but I'd still like someone to take over that channel for a week and see what happens at Soundscan.
    http://www.keith-moore.net . All things guitar: Jam tracks, lessons, blog and more!

  11. #11
    Registered User Rented's Avatar
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    I think it is mostly a matter of what we are accustomed to. Most people, for example, don't enjoy Jazz without extended listening. It's like some food, an aquired taste. It all has to do with expectations. With Jazz you need to learn what to expect. Once you know that, it is quite enjoyable (at least some of it is ). The issue of expectancy reminds me of the very first time I was in the US. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, and somebody hands me some beef jerky. I immediatly spit it out in disgust, because I was expecting it to be chocolate, LOL. Once I knew it was beef, I quite enjoyed it. So, while the desert tribesman learn what to expect from his peers, we learn from our peers (radio, friends, etc.).

    To finish off, here is a link to a fascinating research with an actual commercial application that deals with the exact question we are discussing (scary).

    http://www.polyphonichmi.com/

    Quoted from the site:
    "People like music for many different and varied reasons. These are often social, habitual, historical or emotional.
    But why do we really like the music that we like?
    Well, much of what attracts us to a particular song is found in the basic structure of the music. Particular rhythms, changes in key and certain melodic patterns define the psychological and very human response we all have to music.
    Polyphonic HMI has developed proprietary music analysis technologies capable of identifying music preferences of a user or the whole current recorded music market and intelligently selecting music to recommend to the user or to release as a single."
    ________
    Web Shows
    Last edited by Rented; 09-12-2011 at 08:45 PM.

  12. #12
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    Jazz is wierd. I've been thinking about the way that people get introduced to it. Everyone starts with Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, malies Davis. That's very advanced music and it scares off a lot of people. A good introduction to Jazz would be Late forties Ben Webster and Oscar Peterson. They are playing the blues with a few extra chords, you can dance to it and the harmonies are at least from this earth. You get a sense of what good improvising and jazz phrasing is about without the dizzying speed and labyrinth of chords that come with be-bop.

    Stan Getz too. His melodies are totally irresistable.

  13. #13
    I, Galactus oRg's Avatar
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    hmm...I like this discussion. It kinda gets into the topic of music philosophy. This actually kinda relates to a discussion I had in an advanced honors colloquy class last semester. It is my philosophy that there really is no universal musical standard and to think so is ignominious. There are too many anomalies in the human psyche to actually figure out who likes what and why. It's pretty much like those stupid psychological questionaires to figure out if your left-brained or right-brained. Like Eric had pointed out what we think is musical and melodic could be very dissonant to someone not accustomed to it. Like my signature says "...music strikes us more, the more familiar we are with it". Music maybe is something we're accustomed to. It may be that certain kinds of music hit a certain string inside your head which causes you to like to dislikea certain progression, composition, lick, or scale. Who knows maybe we are born with a certain gene that governs our evolving musical tastes. It is true though that music is all around us in different ways. Rushing water froma fish tank filter creates sound. All sound is music. Though I know there are some scientists out there, like my old physics teacher, who think there are two kinds of sound. Music and noise. It just so happens he though heavy metal was noise...lol...I actually encourage all who are interested to check out some books from a local library or to find some internet resources on music philosphy. It kinda makes you think...lol...
    Last edited by oRg; 05-18-2004 at 07:28 PM.
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  14. #14
    Registered User SkinnyDevil's Avatar
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    Wow - what a great thread. I've been discussing this with several students lately. I think I'll send them this way to check this discussion out.

    One thing I told them was that in analysis we often miss certain key ingredients like, similar to SweeDee & Rented said, what is happening musically at the time. Jimi Hendrix (as we discussed in another thread) is often best understood after immersing yourself in the music of the time so that he can heard in context. To listen out of context invites a misunderstanding of what is so incredible about the man as a musician.

    That said, I often tell them to take a listen to some of the top selling records of all time (Eagles "Greatest Hits", AC/DC "Back in Black") and some of the most popular music of all time (certain classical pieces, for example, that everyone has heard, or songs by the Beatles) and find out what it is that they like (or dislike) about the music.

    I really like Randy's point about melody!
    --
    David M. McLean
    Skinny Devil Music Lab
    www.skinnydevil.com

    "...embrace your fear..."

  15. #15
    Registered User Metal Dan's Avatar
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    Hey Dave! I use to post over at the Insane Guitar forums! Good to see you migrated here! I was under the name DarknessFade.

    Anyway, my take on this subject is that it's a combination of things. Certainly the melody works. I can't listen to straight riffing... there has to be a rhyme to the reason. Also, the atmosphere and emotions a particular song can invoke in me is what can keep me coming back.

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