Discovering music through listening
Discovering music through listening

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Discovering music through listening

1.3 Skips and steps

Steps painted to resemble a piano keyboard
Figure 4 Steps painted to resemble a piano keyboard

Another way we might describe melodic movement is as skips and steps. Skips and steps can characterise a melody as distinctive or memorable. Melody construction might make use of small steps between pitches, moving up or down to create a smooth melodic movement. At other times the melody might be characterised by an angular or disjointed movement, with large skips or leaps between pitches (a combination of high and low notes). The musical term for the distance between pitches, whether they are steps or skips, is interval.

Activity 4

Listen to the following extracts and match the statements below to describe the melodic movement of each extract.

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Audio 4: Howard Goodall, The Lord is my Shepherd, 00:39–01:09
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Audio 14: Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 00:00–00:30
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Audio 8: Traditional, British Grenadiers, 00:00–00:30
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Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Statement 3: The music moves largely by step

  2. Statement 2: The music moves by step and by skips

  3. Statement 1: The music moves largely by skips (leaps)

  • a.Audio 4: Howard Goodall, The Lord is my Shepherd, 00:39–01:09

  • b.Audio 14 Mozart: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, 00:00–00:30

  • c.Audio 8: Traditional, British Grenadiers 00:00–00:30 [as previous]

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = a
  • 2 = c
  • 3 = b

Discussion

Audio 4 was an example of music which had a smooth melodic movement and moved largely by step. Audio 14 was more angular in nature and was characterised by skips or leaps. Finally, Audio 8 combined movement by steps and by skips, with clusters of movement by step and occasional leaps.

DMTL_1

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