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Section 26.5 Rules of Melody

Rules of melody have been included in books on composing, writing counterpoint, and music theory for centuries. The purpose of the rules of melody as described in this text are to aid in the construction of singable melodies and to reflect a summary of melodic practice in music. (Remember that each part in an SATB composition is considered a melody.) Because these rules of melody are based stylistically on the melodies found in J.S. Bach’s 371 Chorales, you will no doubt be familiar with exceptions that have occurred in music composed since Bach’s death in 1750.
  1. Tendency tones (scale degrees \(\hat{2} \), \(\hat{4} \), \(\hat{6} \), and \(\hat{7} \)) should resolve: \(\hat{7} \) goes to \(\hat{8} \) and, to a lesser extent, \(\hat{4} \) goes to \(\hat{3} \) (scale degrees \(\hat{6} \) and \(\hat{2} \) both should resolve down by step)
  2. Avoid augmented intervals
  3. Leaps larger than a 4th and leaps of diminished intervals should change direction after the leap
  4. Consecutive leaps should outline a triad
The following example demonstrates how difficult a melody can be to sing when these rules are broken
Figure 26.5.1.