1.2 Melodic movement
In Audio 11 you heard a static pitch that was repeated to form the rhythmic motif. In Audio 10 you will have heard two pitches. Since these pitches are distinct sound frequencies, to distinguish between them we might describe the second note as moving upwards or downwards in relation to the first.
Listen again to the first four notes in Audio 10 (represented visually in Figure 2) to see which way the second pitch moves in relation to the first. You may wish to make a note of this using an upwards or downwards pointing arrow, or using the words ascending or descending.
The second pitch in Audio 10 was lower than the first and therefore could be described as a falling movement or descending.
We might describe melodic movement using various words or symbols, such as static (straight line - ), ascending (↑), descending (↓) or undulating (wavy line ~).
Listen to the Catfish blues performed by Taj Mahal and accompanied by Toumani Diabate and musicians (Audio 13), focusing on the broad movement of the melody. How would you describe the movement of the melody? You may find it helpful to draw symbols (↑ ↓ ~) on a piece of paper as you listen or use the words ascending, descending or undulating to express what you hear. The lyrics of the extract are reproduced below.
Said now, I wish
I was a catfish.
to the deep blue sea.
I’d have all
you good lookin’ women
Swimmin’ after me (x3).
You may have observed the following patterns of movement while listening:
Said now, I wish [ascending]
I was a catfish [descending]
Swimmin’ in [ascending]
to the deep blue sea [descending]
I’d have all [ascending]
you good lookin’ women [descending]
Swimming after me (x3) [undulating]
You will notice that the ascending and descending movement forms an alternating pattern and presents a pleasing degree of balance to this section of melody. The setting of the words ‘swimming after me’ is particularly attractive with its undulating melodic movement as this is analogous with the movement of a fish.