Tip #6 – Incorporating Melodic Alternation Interplay for Variety

Well, that title certainly is a mouthful. But it is just a fancy way of saying “call & response.” Everyone has probably experienced some form of practicing call & response, as it is used in blues, camp songs, jazz improvisation, polychoral music, and more. One voice (or group) plays one thing as the “call,” and the other voice plays something back as the “response.” While the “response” can be an absolute copy of the “call,” this tip post will feature different opportunities of contrast.

First: different registers. It is a bit easier incorporating this when you have a large ensemble; but even with a single instrument try bouncing between the two low/high extremes of the voice range.

Second: different intervals. Simply put, one theme can be all stepwise in motion, while the other uses leaps.

Third: different contours. Contour is the shape of the line. So, one can go in one direction while the other goes in the opposite.

Fourth: different instruments. Every instrument has their own timbre, or color of sound. Alternating between the voice-like sound of a high-registered cello and a breathy low-voiced flute can be a beautiful contrast.

Fifth: different techniques. Not only do instruments have their own unique timbre, but they also have their own techniques, too. String instruments can both be plucked and bowed, and alternating between the two possibilities in a call & response format can bring beautiful contrasting colors as well as highlights to the melody.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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