Melodies are the set of sounds configured in a unique and particular way, which form an identifiable pattern to the ear. Rhythmically, this succession of sounds is ordered according to two elements located in the musical measure: the key signature (represented by a series of musical symbols) and the musical meter (represented by a numerical fraction).

What is the melody

It is a linear succession of various musical tones that is perceived as a total unit. This produces a phrase or musical idea with its own identity and meaning that is repeated throughout a piece of music. An example of Beethoven’s most iconic musical melody was the one he wrote in the first movement of the fifth symphony.

The word melody has several origins. According to the Greeks, the melody means musical phrase or choral song. This term evolved into Latin, transforming its meaning into that of a melodious song. However, after the proliferation of musical instruments, humanity has associated this concept with instrumental melodies, distancing it from the melodious singing that dominated for so many centuries.

Characteristics of the melodies

Among its relevant characteristics are mentioned:

  • They have a linear succession (in time) of notes.
  • They are framed in the time of the musical piece.
  • It has sounds that are emitted in different frequencies but keeping the same pattern.
  • They stand out easily with respect to the harmony of the musical piece.
  • It revolves around the criteria or tonal modes (system composed of a central note that serves as the basis for the other notes), modal (system composed of a succession of sounds that have their own structure with respect to the other modes) atonal (system composed of tones that are not related to each other, neither with chords nor harmonics).
  • It has inner coherence.

Types of melodies

Melodies - Types of melodies

Before defining the types of melodies, it is important to indicate that the musical notes have low and high registers, and that in the same melody, different combinations can be achieved.


It is the succession of notes that tend to the high registers. Such is the case of Beethoven’s piano sonata No. 1, in which the piano melody is the arpeggio of the chord in F major.


It is the succession of notes that tend to the low registers. For this type of melody, the Adagio in G minor by Tomaso Albinoni is a clear example.


Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony is an example of what a linear melody would be in that the note is held but the rhythm varies and creates a monotonous or accent effect.


In the work entitled La Mañana, composed by Amadeo López and Edvard Grieg, wind instruments star in a solo with the melody and later the orchestra responds to the musical melody, progressively varying its height. This variation cannot be very large or very asymmetric.


Mozart, in his Little Serenade, jumps from one note to another with a greater distance, giving the sensation of breaking.

Create a melody

Melodies - Creating a melody

The creation of a melody is closely linked to cultural and geographical aspects. For example, anime melodies have very different characteristics from the melodies of American series. Another example of the cultural influence on music can be seen in the Korean series Melody of Destiny, where a family makes pianos. In this series, the Asian tones are very characteristic.

However, to create a melody, it is necessary to build a central theme through a harmonic base and a melodic base, supported by a rhythm, time and key signature.

Frequently Asked Questions about Melodies

What is a melody?

A melody is a succession of sounds in a certain time. This succession is repeated throughout the musical piece with certain changes, without implying that it ceases to be conceived as an entity or a set.
One of the love melodies that has set the most trend is the song My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, having more than 15 million copies.

What is the difference between rhythm and melody?

While the rhythm is the orderly and harmonious combination of sounds in a certain time (such as the drums of a rock band), the melody is a succession of musical tones in a certain time.

What is the melody of a song?

The melody of a song is one that not only repeats itself but is in the foreground and produces memorable effects. For example, in the Unchained Melody, written by Hy Zaret in 1955, the piano melody was written by Alex North, and was performed by Todd Duncan.

What is the difference between melody and harmony?

The melody is the main part of a piece of music, while the harmony is the part of the piece of music that accompanies the melody.

How to compose a melody for a song?

  • Choose a melodious instrument or your voice.
  • Think about the feeling or idea you want to convey.
  • Practice and listen to the idea several times to refine details.