Improvisations on The Ledge

The End of Melody, Part 1

Episode Summary

Melody. As a creative musician, you're either born with it or not. Or maybe everybody is born with it but some choose to suppress it. Why would anybody do that?

Episode Notes

Melody. As a creative musician, you’re either born with it or not. Or maybe everybody is born with it but some choose to suppress it. Why would anybody do that?

Whatever the reason, non-melodic music almost always lacks narrative. This is true whether it’s a song with lyrics or instrumental music. Melody is the thing that drives musical stories.

In this podcast, part one of two, I focus on the move away from melody in classical music. Ironically, it began, I posit, with Richard Wagner’s operas. Ironic because Wagner believed that by dispensing with the aria (song) he was creating a kind of “endless melody.” (His term.) But, as I demonstrate, using primarily themes from his opera Tristan und Isolde, the logical conclusion of endless melody is…then end of melody!

Stay tuned for part 2 of the End of Melody, in which I explore how American music (jazz, pop, rock, hip-hop, etc.) has undergone the same (unfortunate) evolution.

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