How do I know my song doesn't have the same melody as an existing song, just in a different key? they sound pretty different even though the contour of the melodies are generally the same. the notes follow the same GENERAL direction, but still differ because the intervals are slightly different, by only by at most 1 whole step.

  • Hi Philip. I personally didn't understand exactly what you're asking, and how the title relates to the description. Maybe you could edit the question to clarify, or specify more? – coconochao Dec 3 '18 at 20:04
  • ok. i'll try to clarify. my melody is in A major, but there is another song in B minor of an already existing composer. in the two songs there is a phrase in which the notes follow the same directions, but the difference is that they're in different keys, different sharps and flats. because of this the two phrases sound significantly different. I ask this question because i'm not sure if my melody is plagiarism, although when I wrote it I didn't know of the other piece. – Philip Dec 3 '18 at 21:12
  • so, the intervals marked off on the staff are the same, but the EXACT intervals are different, sometimes by a whole step, because of the difference in sharps and flats in the two pieces. also I should clarify, the title doesn't really relate that much to the post. it's just that it is the only relevant tag I could find given the ones I had to chose from. – Philip Dec 3 '18 at 21:18
  • Thanks, it's much clearer now. About the title you can actually type any title you want, give it a try! And also, if you could edit you question and include this further explanation, I think it would be helpful to other users! – coconochao Dec 4 '18 at 13:02

Melodic contour is the direction of tones ascending and descending in a melody without regard to the rhythm of the actual notes.

The general contour of the line is an important aspect of melody. For example, an 'arch-like' shape is common for many melodies where the line gradually rises hits a single highest not as a climax then gradually descends.

The specific intervals employed in the contour are important. Consider that two lines could generally have the same shape, but the specific intervals could determine that one melody is in the minor mode while the other is in major. You could even have a third line with the same general shape that is atonal and not in any key!

While rhythm is not normally considered when examining melodic contour it is very important for creating the final character of the actual melody.

Consider the tune 'Joy to the World' (the one by Handle nor Three Dog Night.) When rhythm is removed the first part of the tune is simply a descending scale. The contour is just a downward line. But, when the rhythm is added the melody becomes distinct and unique.

Similar things can be seem with rhythm by changing the meter of a melody. Often the melodic identity is maintained if you make such a meter change (you can still tell what the original melody is) but the character of the melody can change.

Comparing two similar melodies can be a tricky business especially if plagiarism is the concern.

If you compare only the melodic contour, I think you will find many melodies that appear similar to another. You have to add in the other factors like specific intervals, tonality, and rhythm to make a true comparison.

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