1.1 Distinguishing sounds: pitch
To establish how many distinct sounds are used in a melody, you’ll now return to the rhythmic pattern from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to see how pitch contributes to it, and helps to characterise it as both a rhythmic and melodic motif. A motif might be defined as a recurring fragment of melody or rhythm.
This activity is divided into two parts and you will listen to the two extracts of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Audio 10 and Audio 11, which you examined in the previous Week (in the section on musical time). In both parts of the activity you should specifically focus on the pitch(es) which form the motif which was visually represented rhythmically as ●●● –.
First, you will examine the opening of the third movement where the motif is sounded three times in succession (visually represented in Figure 1). Here, you should listen for the number of distinct pitches you can hear sounding this motif.
Make a note of the number of pitches sounded before moving onto the second part of this activity.
Next, listen to the opening of the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Audio 10). This time listen only to the first four notes (the motif played once, represented visually in Figure 2) and decide how many distinct pitches you can hear. You may need to re-start the extract several times to listen only to the first four notes.
In the opening of the third movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (Audio 11), the motif makes use of a single pitch which is repeated to sound the rhythm. This contrasts with the opening of the first movement (Audio 10), which makes use of two distinct pitches. The shorter notes (represented rhythmically by dots) make use of one pitch, and the longer note at the end of the motif (represented by the dash) sounds a distinctly different pitch.