enter image description hereI have a question for music theory asking me about what I notice about the rhythm in bars 3-6 and the note pattern is the same : crotchet, 4 quavers, crotchet, minim. But the actual name of the note varies (e.g the first note in bar 3 is an A but in bar 4 it is a G and every note is different like this). There is a particular term for this but I really can't remember it. Any suggestions?

  • If the intervals are the same also just the starting note is different, that might be sequence. Jun 6, 2015 at 14:39
  • Looks somewhat like a fugue subject.
    – user16935
    Jun 6, 2015 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


If the melodic contour is similar, either exactly transposed or adjusted to retain the shape but remain diatonic in the prevailing key, it's a sequence. If the contour of the melody changes, it's a rhythmic mode.

Edit: Now that I see the example, ms.3-6 form a (mainly) diatonic melodic sequence in D minor. I say "mainly", because you get the usual sharping of the leading tone in m.6.

  • Another possibility if the rhythms are the same, but the pitches are different could be a rhythmic motif.
    – Dom
    Jun 6, 2015 at 17:00
  • Or a rhythmic ostinato, which is why I'm asking for clarification. The differences between these and rhythmic mode are fairly small, though.
    – user16935
    Jun 6, 2015 at 17:07
  • @Patrx2 - ostinato is something that continues, rather than gets repeated once or twice.
    – Tim
    Jun 6, 2015 at 17:34
  • 1
    There are four repetitions in her example, @Tim. Ostinati can be used for small sections of, say, phrase length (as here). In this case, though, we do have a melodic sequence. (It really does look like a fugue subject.)
    – user16935
    Jun 6, 2015 at 17:37
  • @Tim Agreed with Patrx2 here an ostinato is any repeated rhythmic figure. Also agreed that we have a descending tonal (as opposed to real) melodic sequence. I have to say though, that the lack of dynamics is kind of bugging me. Jun 6, 2015 at 17:42

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