G8 Extending a Melody

How to Extend an Existing Melody

How can you make your melodies more interesting?

When we are working with an existing melody, in some cases we need to adapt it somewhat. This is to provide contrast when it is repeated in many sections throughout the song or make it longer or shorter to make it fit in the arrangement.

One way to achieve this is by lengthening the melody and again this can be done by applying various methods. One frequently used technique is to extend an eight bar melody into twelve or sixteen measures. And if done correctly, one can still hear the original melody.

So lets start off with an original melody and chord progression:

Original Melody
Original MelodyIt is in the key of C major and I just used simple 3 note triad chords in root position and inversions. The melody itself is simple too:Three times, in bars 1, 3 and 5, I used the same melodic motive.In bars 2 and 6 the same rhythmic motive occurs but with the melody going in different directions.

In bar 7 again the same rhythm is used from bars 1, 3 and 5 but instead of the melody going up it goes down.

Now lets look at the next example:

Original Melody with Final 2 Bar Extended
Original Melody with Final 2 Bars ExtendedAs you can see the final 2 bars are extended to 4 by doubling the original note values. This technique is called “Augmentation, the quarter notes are extended into half notes, the eighth notes into quarter notes, etc. By slowing down the melody at the end of a song or section it adds a bit of a seriousness.In a similar way we can take the original melody and add an additional cadenceĀ onto the end. This can be achieved by repeating an existing cadence or adding a new one. In the example below I repeated, with a slight variation, the cadence in the last two bars:
Original Melody with New 2 Bar Extension
Original Melody with New 2 Bar ExtensionIn the example below I expended the melody by inserting extra measures. These empty bars add some breathing space between the main melodic sentences. The chords used here, G7, are the V (five) chords of the C major scale and serve as a cadence to go back to the tonic, C:
Original Melody with New 2 Bar Cadence
Original Melody with New 2 Bar CadenceIn the last example there are two bars added, with slightly different chords, in the middle. These are bars 5 and 6 and the motive itself is taken from bar 2. Another two bars are added and repeated at the end. They are an exact copy of bars 9 and 10.
Original Melody with 2 Bar Repeated in Middle & End
Original Melody with 2 Bars Repeated in Middle & EndSo here are four ways to extend and adapt your original melody.In my next follow up I will discuss how to embellish and alter an original melody.
Original Lesson Shared by ‘The Music Arrangers Page

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