So, here is a good question for you this week: “What is the most important part of music”? Parents will often ask me “Is there a certain part of the song my child should be focusing on? Is every song different or should I make sure my child understands more about “rhythm, tempo, hand coordination, or theory “?
Well actually, there is one part of the music that any of the most successful music makers today would agree is the most important part; THE MELODY! The melody is the central most important part of any song. Let’s take a look at this piece of sheet music above. “Can you find the melody or the theme”? At first glance, it seems to be a complete nightmare. There are notes everywhere! There are lines that Zig Zag, crazy dynamic markings, too many accidentals to count, and random words mixed together like a musical casserole! I don’t know about you but I can’t find the melody in this piece. If you do find the melody, make sure to let one of the Center Stage teachers know this week!
Don’t be scared away though. I can assure you that none of the music we teach here at Center stage looks like this. Let’s all take a deep breath, press play on iTunes, listen to our favorite song and erase this image from our brain. Good, ok, now let’s get back on topic. Notes on a page without a melody become complete chaos like this example here. The reason that melody is so important is because it is the part of a song that people will remember. When someone says, “I have this stupid song stuck in my head,” what they really mean is “I can’t stop thinking about this catchy melody”. There may be nobody around today who understands how to make a catchy melody better than Max Martin. Max is one of the most successful music producers and songwriters of the last twenty years. You can walk down the hallway any week at center stage and, if you listen long enough, you will probably here one of Max’s famous melodies echoing in the practice rooms. Some of his major hits include the songs of Katy Perry, KESHA, Usher, Brittany Spears, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor swift and so many more. I had the chance last week to talk with Savan Kotecha, who is a one of Max’s hit songwriters, and he said “Max’s rule is that MELODY trumps words, ALWAYS”. Well, if it is good enough for Max, than surely it is good enough for me! Savan later told me “When someone remembers a song, they remember the melody, even if they forget the words.”
This holds true with instrumental music as well. Ask any beginning piano students “how does Fur Elise go,” and they will probably start humming Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah… Even Beethoven knew how to get a song stuck in your head.
Maybe next week I can break down the components of what makes a great melody great, but for now, understand that yes, there is one part of music that is more important than the rest, and that is the melody. I’ll leave you with this quote from my friend Corey from the band “Storm Circus.” He says, “If you don’t know what a melody is, you probably are not a musician”. He might be a little harsh, but it is worth thinking about. Till next time…