Tip #8 – Finding That Melodic Pair with Contrary Motion

Have you ever noticed that when we ask a question, our voices tend to wander higher in pitch? Even as you were reading that pervious question, the voice in your head must have had direction in their tone, contour, and phrasing. When someone answers a question, the voice goes in the opposite motion and lowers in pitch.

Sure, can you find examples where this does not happen? Yeah, but it is a phenomenon of a natural occurrence of contrary motion in contour.

Say you have a melodic fragment, and idea, that needs some kind of “answer” to it. First, observe the melodic intervals, direction, and shape of the melodic line.

Now, flip that shape upside-down in your head. For example: if it went up, have the melody go down now in roughly the same interval area. This adds a complemental structure 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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