I've been studying said book for learning melody writing and I find it to be very methodical. It is completely free to download for anyone interested (google).

I found a line I can't seem to understand. On page 18, par. 30:

"The leap of an octave is allowed from any tone, upward or downward (according to the low or high pitch of the tone from which the leap is to be made). This is simply a wider version of par. 9a" (my understanding of par. 9a is basically that a tone is allowed to be repeated once or more, where-ever, whenever including active tones (or tendency tones) like 4 and 7).

par. 30


However assuming I haven't made any wide leaps recently, does this mean I can leap an octave whenever? For example in C major, can I write a melody like: C, B, (leap an octave down) B, C? That doesn't seem right to me and that seems inconsistent with what the book has taught up until that point. My understanding of the book is that for example since 7 is exerting a lot of pressure on the melody upward to reach 1, leaping in the opposite direction should be a big no-no.

I'm not asking what makes sense musically, rather understanding the rules the book lays out. Thank you.

  • Hmm, C-(drop minor 2nd)-B-(drop octave)-B-(raise minor 2nd)-C doesn't sound bad to me, and I can easily make that the start of an etude.
    – Dekkadeci
    Mar 21, 2020 at 12:38
  • Hello, thank you for answering. Yes, there is merit to that little tune. However my question is it seems to be against the rules the book has stated so far. Or at least my understanding of the rules.
    – CuriousSam
    Mar 21, 2020 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


I think he's suggesting that the melodic leap of an octave behaves much like a repeated tone (octave equivalence). By the way, I recommend book highly. It's a bit old-fashioned (not so much as Geotschius's other books) but one can adapt as necessary.

  • Here's the most extreme example I can think of (in a major key): 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 LEAP AN OCTAVE DOWN - 7 - 1. Do you see why that seems to weird to me and inconsistent with what has been taught up until that point? Every force in the melody seems to be pushing it upwards, and now it has made a wide leap in the opposite direction.
    – CuriousSam
    Mar 21, 2020 at 22:18
  • However, there are a couple of other procedures at play here. "One can always leap down to the 7th step (or up to the 4th) if the line turns." Also "A wide leap need to turn back soon." One could also argue that this line is continually rising; if octaves are treated as "equivalent" then this line really does always rise.
    – ttw
    Mar 22, 2020 at 1:48
  • Yes, technically you're right, but from what I've seen it still doesn't look right. I tried looking at the literature. I've been going through Bach's inventions, there are many octave leaps there, and the closest I've seen to an octave leap on 7 is in Invention 4 bar 9. It is an octave leap on 7, however it's in minor and the 7 isn't raised.
    – CuriousSam
    Mar 22, 2020 at 2:14

If you read a book about good melodies and rules for good melodies you will certainly find some advice or rules developed of the cantus firmus era.

Music (and of course the composer) is always working with expectations and surprisings! Why should this not be in a melody?

I remember children songs we sang in the primary school playing with this effect. May be it is exceptional in melodies but the effect of surprise is there.

  • Thanks for the answer. Could you please give an example of a song where an octave leap occurs on one of the active tones (not 1, 3 or 5)? Preferably 7?
    – CuriousSam
    Mar 24, 2020 at 7:39
  • do you mean an octave leap of 7th to 7th? Actually I can't think of one. ( I could write you one ;). But this song gundis-music.de/thomas/arrangements/a292.html (bar 6 with up beat dodo lala fafa rere) we used to sing (last 8th note bar 6 and followings) re do ti la so fa mi re do. (ReDo - Ti = major 7th leap) I thinks this leaps in melody are rare because it was not easy for singers to do them (cantus firmus). In Bachs music such melodic turns are quite usual (just to stay in the range of the keyboard). Mar 24, 2020 at 8:58
  • Haha thanks for the offer. :) I couldn't find the major 7th leap. Yes I could find many octave leaps in Bach's music, but only on 1, 3, or 5 in major keys.
    – CuriousSam
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:02

So I went through the chapter again. I actually found an example of octave leaps on all the active tones. On page 18 par. 28: page 18 par.28

However I think it's important to into account par.6 in page 6. par.6 page 6

So while it is possible to leap an octave whenever (so long as you haven't recently made a wide skip), the tendency and urgency of the active tones should be considered.

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