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#1454956 - 06/12/10 01:46 AM Difference between melody and rhythm  
Joined: Jun 2010
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Piano Balaji Offline
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Piano Balaji  Offline
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Hello all, I am new to the forum and excited to be in this group. Would like to submit my views about how a pianist will look at a melody and rhythm - "Rhythm divides the music and melody integrates the rhythm." How ? If you look at some of the Mozart sonatas for example, have used many alberti bass ( CGEG, GDBD etc) harmony on left hand for a nice melody for right hand. If it is played very slowly we can feel that the melody is cut into to pieces based upon the harmonic note counts. This gives an indication that melody is divided as guided by harmony. Similarly if we listen the harmony part alone and mentally sing the melody, it is the melody that makes the harmony change color and preserve the tempo, that way melody unites the discrete rhythm pieces. Welcome any comments / criticism.

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#1454959 - 06/12/10 01:58 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Piano Balaji]  
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Arkin Offline
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You're complicating it. It's actually a lot simpler then that.

Rhythm: The properties of music that relate to time. I wish i could write on a musical stave and show you here but....basically, the rhythm relates to the timing of the notes. Let's take your progression of CGEG. Say it's a whole note C, quarter note G, half note E, whole note G. That's one rhythm, we can change the rhythm, to all notes being quarter notes or whole notes. The melody is the same, the rhythm is different.

Melody: A collection of progressive musical notes which are perceived as a single entity, and that pretty much means if you play a G now and then stop, and play an F about a month later, it's not melody. Ok so say we have four whole beats for the line of CGEG, then if we changed the notes to CGEF we've kept the rhythm the same, but changed the melody.

The two are distinct and along with harmony are the three main properties of music. I find your approach to be completely confusing the distinction, and doesn't really make much sense given the definitions of each.

Last edited by Arkin; 06/12/10 02:01 AM.
#1454995 - 06/12/10 06:22 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Arkin]  
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custard apple Offline
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I like to think of melody as the singability of the tune, and rhythm as the dancability of the tune.

#1455029 - 06/12/10 08:48 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: custard apple]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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Yeah. Just whistle a happy tune. Then you won't feel so confused. laugh

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#1455074 - 06/12/10 10:31 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Rickster Offline
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I think Arkin nailed it… Rhythm is the timing of the song/piece (3/4, 4/4, etc…) and the melody is the actual arraignment or collection of notes within each measure that make the whole.

Of course, you can’t have one without the other…. Both are important.

Take care,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1455664 - 06/13/10 10:23 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Piano Balaji]  
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Piano Balaji Offline
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Thanks for the reply from Arkin, wondering how a melody is written for piano specifically. A violinist listens to, say a vocal melody be able reproduce exactly the same in the instrument but no explicit action for rhythm (reproduce the melody from head or sight read) , however piano has a rhythm element usually in the left hand, it should bind with the melody to make it polyphonic. In pianist's head I suppose he should try to listen the melody with hidden pauses which is manifested as explicit rhythm left hand. Apologize if I going in circles, whenever I struggle to perfect a piece, my master tells me to practice the rhythm and melody Hands separately. As long as I do HS it works fine, but a point when I had to blend both - difficulty arises.

#1455683 - 06/13/10 10:50 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Piano Balaji]  
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Rickster Offline
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Georgia, USA
Originally Posted by Balaji
As long as I do HS it works fine, but a point when I had to blend both - difficulty arises.


This is what all aspiring pianist struggle with… even the most advanced. This is where the right-brain/left-brain activity really has to merge and work together (not and easy task).

Elssa and a few others here do a really good job with the LH/RH rhythm/melody merging.

There is no quick and easy solution, other than practice, practice and more practice.

Best regards,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
#1455691 - 06/13/10 11:01 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Rickster]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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PB, I can't help but think you're over-intellectualising this.

We, all of us, at some point, have struggled to get hands together. It's a piece of physical and mental co-ordination that you just need to get used to.

If it helps, try not to think of a 'melody hand' and a 'rhythm hand'. They are both playing something that is rhythmic and harmonic.

For HT practice you will probably need to go really slow, and you might need to use a metronome to help count the beats.

#1455742 - 06/13/10 12:10 PM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Piano Balaji]  
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TinyHands Offline
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I feel like you are trying to say that playing a piano or a keyboard is like there are 2 players (LH&RH)...instead of one as for violin. So you ask how the piece for piano is written ? maybe ?

As others said the rhythm is timing between each note. It's like a queue telling a note or notes when to show up. So both hands actually have their own rhythm and tune to play.

For me most of the time I consider the left hand as an accompanist such as when the left hand plays chords to make the melody line sound better. And sometimes it's like they are doing a duet. (And I am a conductor. Well, I know you don't need a conductor for piano duet.)

So I've never thought a rhythm element usually in the left hand per your comment.

And regarding your practice...
though I agree that playing HS is a great way to practice, there are many pieces that I think it's better to go HT from the start if they are not too hard for you. Because when you play hands together you can hear what the complete piece should sound like especially with the pieces that both hands are playing melody line. You have a chance to work out the rhythm from both hands from the early stage. But do this only when you ready. This basically forces you to practice sight reading.

The fact that playing hands together is difficult (for many of us...not just you so don't worry) I think it's just because there is only one brain to control 2 hands, 10 fingers, listen to the tunes, deal the rhythm of both hands and read the whole grand staff at the same time. That's definitely too much for one brain! But you can do it. It will come naturally. Keep practicing correctly.

Just a thought.
TinyHands


“Brick walls are there for a reason, they let us prove how badly we want something.“ - Randy Pausch

#1455905 - 06/13/10 04:53 PM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: TinyHands]  
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David Sprunger Offline
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I think there have been some great replies here. I would agree a little bit about the over over-intellectualising comment, but I guess for me it comes down to this: Melody is the A#1 most important thing in music. Everything else exist to support the melody. Without melody, you simply have a collection of chords, and who wants that? For example, you never hear of a concert made up exclusively a Autoharps. That would consist only of rhythm and melody, leaving the audience dazed and confused. Ha. However, if you throw a singer into the mix, and they supply the melody, and you may have a great concert.

Melody is king. Harmony and rhythm exist to serve the melody.


David Sprunger - Learn to play piano by ear using the revolutionary technique of "Rhythmic Patterns". Piano Lessons Homepage here - includes library of piano lessons for beginners through advanced piano and keyboard players.
#1456134 - 06/13/10 11:31 PM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: David Sprunger]  
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Legal Beagle Offline
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In the immortal words of Gloria Estefan: the rhythm is gonna get you. laugh


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#1456139 - 06/13/10 11:47 PM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: David Sprunger]  
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jotur Offline
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Originally Posted by David Sprunger
For example, you never hear of a concert made up exclusively a Autoharps. That would consist only of rhythm and melody, leaving the audience dazed and confused. Ha. However, if you throw a singer into the mix, and they supply the melody, and you may have a great concert.


Bryan Bowers smile He does also sing, but he can play a recognizable melody on (any one of his stack of) autoharp(s) smile

But philosophically, I'm not sure you can have melody without rhythm. JMO, of course. I can say that in the kind of music I play - American old-time, Irish and Scottish traditional, that the fiddles can play a tune using different accents - rhythm, really - and they will be close to not recognisable as the same tune. One way will be just the notes as written in a tune book, and one way will have a characteristic of the style which is syncopated. Different ball game.

Maybe it's different with classical, but in those three traditions I don't think melody and rhythm are separable - even in the melody line.

Cathy


Cathy
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#1456216 - 06/14/10 02:38 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: jotur]  
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ten left thumbs Offline
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I'm with Cathy. You might as well ask who makes the baby - the mum or the dad.

#1456279 - 06/14/10 07:31 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: ten left thumbs]  
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Music Major Offline
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The simplest way to think about this is to consider that music could exist in two dimensions. The horizontal dimension of time, and the vertical dimension of pitch. They can't be separated. It you removed time you would have just a single note, if you remove the pitch variance (vertical dimension, melody) you would just have a tone. Both alone would be pretty boring :-(

There are all kinds of representations of "other" ways to have a rhythm in a piece. Check out some of the Gnossiennes by Satie. They have no measures at all in them and have no time signatures declared.

An example - Satie - Free scores


Kevin

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The most important thing in music is what is not in the notes.
#1456290 - 06/14/10 08:03 AM Re: Difference between melody and rhythm [Re: Music Major]  
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Andy Platt Offline
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Here's my complete simplification. Melody is the node values, rhythm is the note length, tune is the combination of both.

Well, I did say it was a simplification wink


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