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Overview

As part of their training in composition, senior cycle Music students have to write a melody based on a given phrase. Their tune must have

  • a good shape
  • sound chord progressions
  • strong cadential points
Why is a website an effective tool for teaching melody writing?
An ability to hear what they have composed on paper does not come naturally to everyone, so a step-by-step approach is adopted to encourage the user to listen to, recognise and recycle good features of tunes. Students will learn to associate the visual aspects of the notated music with the aural results. This, after all, is one of the most important aims of music writing - coping with written scores
How can a Leaving Cert student learn melody writing here?
This project addresses the problems encountered by Music students who are trying to work creatively under exam conditions, without the aid of any musical instrument. Interactive examples are used throughout. This allows an exploration of tonality, cadences and awkward intervals.

The project has three main objectives. It shows how
  • to continue a given opening to complete a 16-bar melody with modulation
  • to cope with strict parameters such as a dance style, metre or form and
  • to set a verse of poetry, not limited to 16 bars
What I.T. tools are used here?
A computer with a free, downloadable plug-in, called Scorch, enables the user to work through the notated examples. Examples of keys, rhythm patterns, compositional devices and instrumental ranges are illustrated visually and aurally with MIDI and notation files. There are some Internet links - interesting, although optional. Headphones may prove useful if the students are allowed to spend time playing the examples.
Anything else needed?

Manuscript paper and pencil should be at the ready so that students can copy down ideas they will need for further work. Teachers also need not abandon the blackboard and piano.

What about the lesson plan?

Preliminary testing of the lesson material has generated ideas which have been incorporated into the design of the 40-minute lessons.

There are fifteen sections in all, under three main headings - tools, techniques and composing. The teacher will refer to the tools and techniques sections in most lessons.

  • It is recommended that three lessons revolve around the writing of major melodies - found in the composing section.
  • Two class periods could be spent on dances.
  • Two further lessons are needed to cover minor melodies.
  • The wordsetting section takes two sessions and should not be attempted until basic rules of melody writing are undertood.
And finally...
This package is a resource for teachers who may wish to use it in class to reinforce and compliment their own lessons. It is also geared towards students who wish to work at their own pace at home. If you are interested in using this resource, go to the section called Plan: