• Who Else Wants To Understand The Difference Between Melody And Harmony?

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    If you’re interested in learning the difference between melody and harmony, then you arrived at the right page.

    Melody and harmony are some of the music terms that are commonly used among non-musicians. You probably must have heard phrases like:

    “There’s a melody in my heart”

    “I love the harmony between John and his wife”

    …or similar ones.

    But today, we’ll be looking at the proper definition of melody and harmony, as well as the difference between both terms.

    The Concept Of Melody – Explained

    According to Jermaine Griggs, “melody is a product of the relationship between notes that are played or heard separately.”

    Let’s take a closer look at some of the keywords in the definition of the term “melody” before we proceed further.

    “Melody Is A Product”

    Notes are the raw material while melody is the product. Hence, a melody has to be meaningful, having a level of organization.

    Consequently, melody is not just a collection of notes played separately — which may be classified as a scale — melody is a product of notes played meaningful, with a level of organization.

    “…The Relationship…”

    There’s usually a relationship between the notes of a melody. For a melody to be meaningful, its notes must be related to a given scale, chord, or key.

    For example, in the melody “Joy To The World”









    The notes are related by the C major scale:

    In a nutshell, the notes of a melody are usually related.


    The most important keyword in the definition of the term melody is separately. The notes of a melody is designed to be played or heard separately.

    Consequently, when more than one note is played or heard, a melody ceases to be a melody. Find out what it becomes in the next segment.

    What Does The Term Harmony Mean?

    Harmony is a product of the relationship between notes that are played or heard at the same time (simultaneously.)

    Just like melody, harmony is also a product of the relationship between notes. However, in the case of harmony, the notes are played or heard simultaneously (or together.)

    Let’s look at the keyword simultaneously before we proceed.

    “…Played Or Heard Simultaneously”


    Explained:The Difference Between Melody And Harmony

    The characteristic difference between melody and harmony is the nature of the relationship between the notes.

    In a melodic relationship, the notes are heard separately or successively, while in a harmonic relationship, the notes are heard simultaneously.

    When C, E, and G::

    …are played or heard successively, this could produce the melody below:




    Conversely, when played simultaneously:

    …could produce a harmony – the C major triad:

    “In A Nutshell…”

    Although melody and harmony are both products of note relationship, they differ in terms of the way they are played or heard.

    Melody is successive while harmony is simultaneous.

    Final Words

    Melody and harmony are the two main elements of pitch. The relationship between pitches can either produce melody or harmony and this depends on the nature of the relationship between the pitches.

    The relationship between notes heard successively produces melody while the relationship between notes heard simultaneously produces harmony.

    See you in the next lesson!

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    Onyemachi "Onye" Chuku (aka - "Dr. Pokey") is a Nigerian musicologist, pianist, and author. Inspired by his role model (Jermaine Griggs) who has become his mentor, what he started off as teaching musicians in his Aba-Nigeria neighborhood in April 2005 eventually morphed into an international career that has helped hundreds of thousands of musicians all around the world. Onye lives in Dubai and is currently the Head of Education at HearandPlay Music Group and the music consultant of the Gospel Music Training Center, all in California, USA.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


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