The question asks to find the weaknesses or problems (based on the general guidelines for melody writing presented in the preceding section) in the following melodic contour (tunes without rhythm or meter) written in D minor. enter image description here

I am struggling to find any problem with this contour, and these are my comments in response to each of the guidelines:

  1. The melody begins on the member of the tonic triad 1 and resolves with a 2-1 melodic cadence.
  2. The range of the melody is a minor sixth, so a very comfortable range.
  3. The melody moves primarily in steps and makes two skips that don't create any new problems (e.g. dissonant intervals).
  4. There are no more than two repeats of a patterns or sequence (e.g. 1-2-3, 2-3-4, 3-4-5). The second half of the melody is a retrograde of the first half, but this is only one repeat and it's not an identical repeat, so I don't see a problem here.
  5. There is only one melodic climax in the middle of the contour.

The wording of the question also asserts that there is such a weakness or problem.

  • 1
    What is the exact wording of the guidelines? It's possible that they mention something you're missing.
    – Dekkadeci
    Dec 9, 2018 at 16:06
  • 3
    Don't use [SOLVED] in your titles. That's an old forum habit that doesn't apply here. Instead, click on the checkmark next to the correct answer to mark your post as "solved." Dec 26, 2018 at 20:42

2 Answers 2

  • the two skips use the same pitches: E G and G E
  • sequences: A Bb A G and E F E D and the inverted G F G A

Neither of those 'break the rules' as you stated them, but maybe the textbook author thinks too much of the same melodic material is used.

...it does not resolve in a 2-1 melodic cadence...

Unless I misunderstand, it does end with a 2-1 melodic cadence. It ends E D or re do.

Personally, I find exercises like this difficult. They aren't about if it's good music, you're just supposed to find rule violations.

  • Ah! I was thinking of the modern key signature of one B flat for D minor. But, you're right there was an older practice of using a 'dorian' key signature for minor keys. Dec 27, 2018 at 16:31

I can only think of two possible weaknesses with this melody:

  1. It is too stepwise. There are only two non-step intervals in this melody, and they're both thirds between the same two pitches! Laitz mentions that one "can move with occasional skips (of thirds, fourths and fifths) to add interest"; thus perhaps having only two skips make the entire melody less interesting.
  2. The stretch B♭–A–G–E outlines a tritone. This is sometimes a restriction in strict counterpoint, but one of Laitz's own examples traverses a tritone, so I doubt this is the reason.

But more important, this example was removed from future editions of the textbook. This suggests that either some of the reviewers of the book or Laitz himself (or both) felt that this example was problematic.

In short, you're 100% correct to doubt the legitimacy of this question. Others have as well, so much so that it's now been removed!

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