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What Characterizes A Good Melody?

A good melody paired with other good sounds is the perfect way to make a song.

What characterizes a good melody is:

  1. Simplicity
  2. its ability to fit a chord
  3. A contour that goes in somewhere
  4. motives
  5. Varied repetition
  6. Step wise movement

All the above are good traits of a melody,

remember that a good melody is one that is catchy which means you have to

take a considerable amount of time in coming up with them,

whilst using some of the characteristics listed above.

let’s get into each of these characteristics


A good melody at its core is one that is simple, it may be accompanied by a lot of other complex elements,

but the main melody will usually be composed of a simple and catchy melody.

Simple melodies are good because they make it easy for the listener to easily

remember the melody

and not have a difficult time remembering all the intricate parts.

Music is a first impressions kind of business because people’s attention is fairly short,

therefore making a melody simple can make it easy for the listener to

remember the melody and easily sing along to it.

It Should fit a chord

Any song writer can easily tell you that any good song is a partnership

between melodies and chords.

Therefore the second characteristic of a good melody is that:

it is one that is able to fit a chord properly.

Melody notes will sound better and sound right when they have good chords

beneath them,

this works the other way around too,

therefore good chords will sound good when they have a good fitting melody

above them.

Therefore a good implementation of this strategy can give you a good

sounding melody.

A Contour that goes in somewhere

As a melody progresses the pitch may go up or down.

Think of this as a line that goes steeply when the melody jumps to a much

higher note and

goes down when the melody goes to a lower note.

such a line would then make up the shape of the melody or the contour.

the contour is not only important in giving a sequence of the motion but it is

important also

in that it gives the melody a good range to keep it interesting for the listener.


A motive is a melodic phrase or figure that is reproduced and varied through

the course of the composition.

Motives appear and reappear in certain parts of a melody which gives the

melody an identity or a common theme.

This is good because it keeps the idea contained while keeping things

interesting for the listener.

Therefore it is good to have a variety of motives through out your melody,

plus have a varied way of having them play out to keep things interesting and not monotonous.

You can pick the sections of the melody where your motives will appear and

make them distinct in which ever way you feel makes them interesting.


Repetition is one characteristic that can easily make a melody catchy,

when properly used; a melody can have good repetitive patterns that can

give the listener  a good experience.

A melody is only good melody if it has repetitive features that make it easy to

distinguish and easy to remember,

plus repetition will distinguish the melody from other elements in the song.

The repetition can be varied in which case the composer will have to include

enough of the original statement for the listener to recognize.

Step wise movement

This is basically a melodic motion that’s consists of intervals between any two

consecutive pitches and the the interval is no more than a step.

Therefore you basically move from one note to another up or down the scale

one step at a time.

This will make your melody much easier to follow and the listener will be able

to determine where exactly the melody is going.

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