It has been a long and pretty insane path
leading me, musically,
to where I am at this time.

So it has been 45 years
since I first began my formal investigations

My first insight really came
from a book which I ran into
in my stepdad's collection of music books
which he used as reference books
for arranging for swing band during the 1930's.

So, it was an old book.

And one that you will not see just anywhere.

And a VERY magical book,
where I was concerned.    

The title of the book says it all

I said to my deepest inner self.

An entire book on melody?

How could there even be such a thing
I wondered.

I was a beginning guitarist
(classic and spanish styles, mainly,
with popular music being very secondary,
at that time).

My musical background at this time
was a rather odd one.

I was raised in an extremely wealthy household.

There was no other music than "classical" music.

My mom would sneak in musicals and show tunes,
and that was it,
until whatever year the second Beatle's album
came out.

I will never forget it.

My mother's mother gave it to me
for my birthday
so that I would not be ignorant
of what was going on
in the world around me.

That is exactly what she told me.

She gave me that album
along with a huge collection of songs
by the famous tenor opera singer "Caruso".

That should tell you something
(although I am not sure just what).

I listened to that recording
and was immediately hooked
on the science of sound.

I studied how George Martin,et al
had gotten together
with this rather talented group of young men
(with traditional four part harmonies
 coming directly out of the 1940's and 1950's)
and decided to turn on the full panoply
of recording engineering technology
which was in it's infancy at that time.

The concept of multi-track recording
just blew everyone away.

Now, what has this to do with a textbook on Melody, anyway?

Well, everything, as it turns out.

It all goes back to the concept of "singability".

One of my teachers
(mostly books,
because I am self taught)
once told of how every single melody
MUST be singable.

It MUST be able to stand on it's own.

And it MUST be pleasing to the ear.

Those are the rules which I have tried to live by.

As one studies the use of melody,
as it reaches it's extremes in Bach
and George Martin meets the Beatles,
one soon begins to understand
just how important these underlying principles
truly are.

The ramifications always being far greater
than any of us ever expect them to be.

So, here I was a puzzled young teenager
trying to figure out what the connection is
between Caruso and the Beatles.


And sub-melody.

And counter-melody.

And inversions of melody.

And dynamics (soft to loud).

To name just a few.

So, just what is it that makes a melody melodious, anyway.

Singability? at a minimum?

Everybody loves a popular song
because they hear it once or twice
somewhere or other
and they can walk away singing the song
(typically from beginning to end).

They can carry it around it their head with them.

They will have associations with the song.

If they are pleasurable
then it will give them pleasure
as they sing it to themselves.

That is the ultimate in singability.

But, as you must know,
if you are following this series of writings,
not all great music is singable.

And singability isn't everything.

Just go ask Beethoven,
Modeste Mossourgsky,
and Igo Stravinsky
about that one.

The great composers had discovered
something new
and very different
from the concept of singability
and that is


Intense emotion
and intense emotional response.

The huge Wagnerian operas
come to mind immediately.

Or the 1812 Overture by Tschaikovsky.

This had been immediately preceded by the Hallelujuah chorus
in Handel's Messiah,
which caused the king of England
to stand on his feet
while crying, and sobbing and weeping,
and thereby unintentionally
creating the standing ovation.

Yes, emotion and emotionalism
and primal emotive forces.

Now, if you want to go to a really scary place
just followe some of those emotive forces
and voices sometime soon --- NOT!!

Bad idea.

Really bad idea.

Only the most powerful of wizards
and wizard composers
would even dare to tread
on those most slippery of paths.

And that only when forced to
by circumstance
far beyone anyone's control.

So, Beethoven, et al
have opened the doorway
into a very strange
and colorful
and wonderful
world indeed.

So now one must not only consider
and dissonance
with every single step,
but they must consider the emotive forces
which are implied, thereby
or potentially about to be released.

The music has now become much more dynamic
and has begun to transcend the bounds of "singability".

Ahhhhh,  but that can only last for so long
until it deteriorates into
with all of the tedium implied thereby
(think trying to sleep in the bushes
on a busy Los Angeles area
onramp to the freeway).

All of a sudden
becomes a very precious commodity.

As the original name of the piano so well tells it,

The keyboard instrument which could play
loud and soft.

Wider dynamic range
(softer softs and louder louds).

So now our old friend "singability"
has gone from being kind of boring
and maybe too predictable
into being something which is very difficult to control
and which can only be mastered
by a very celebrated few.

(Of whom no one knows or cares,
celebrated or not.)

And you wonder why I spend so much time
in a state of utter confusion?

I have much more to say -

but this should provide a good start.

w/ euphonius love to all


4:30 p.m.
Ventura, California, USA