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For the Waris Hussein film, see Melody (1971 film).
Composers should write tunes the chauffeurs and errand boys can whistle.

A melody also tune, voice or line, is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color.


  • Melody is the golden thread running through the maze of tones by which the ear is guided and the heart reached.
    • Anonymous
  • Melody is a series of repeated rising and falling intervals, which are subdivided and given movement by rhythm; containing a latent harmony within itself and giving out a mood feeling; it can and does exist independently of accompanying parts as a form; in its performance the choice of pitch and of the instrument makes no difference to its essence.
    • Ferruccio Busoni, also quoted in An Encyclopedia of Quotations about Music, p. 33
  • Composers should write tunes the chauffeurs and errand boys can whistle.
  • The heart of a melody can never be put down on paper.
  • The melody is generally what the piece is about.
    • Aaron Copland, also quoted in Encyclopedia of Quotations about Music, p. 33
  • Harmony is music does not consist merely in the construction of concordant sounds, but in their mutual relations, their proper succession in what I should call their audible reflex.
  • The greatest beauties of melody and harmony become faults and imperfections when they are not in their proper place.
  • A tune is always the same tune, whether it is sung loudly or softly, by a child or a man; whether it is played on a flute or on a trombone.
    • Charles Darwin, The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872
  • A melody is a vocal or instrumental imitation using the sounds of a scale invented by art or inspired by nature, as you prefer; it imitates either physical noises or the accents of passion.
  • The continuity and diegetic function of almost all vocal melody draw us along the linear thread of the song's syntagmatic structure, producing a 'point of perspective' from which the otherwise disparate parts of the musical texture can be placed within a coherent 'image'.
    • Middleton, Richard (1990/2002). Studying Popular Music, p. 264. Philadelphia: Open University Press. ISBN 0335152759.
  • You who are sitting before me have the power to change my consciousness into painting, poem, melody or anything else!

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