The Fate of Melody and the Dream of Return

Lawrence Kramer

in Why Classical Music Still Matters

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780520250826
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520933644 | DOI:
The Fate of Melody and the Dream of Return

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This chapter illustrates the fate of melody. No matter what kind of music one favors, the enjoyment of melody is likely to feel utterly natural. To enjoy a melody, one needs to hear it more than once. A melody that vanished forever after one hearing would remove itself from the sphere of pleasure to the sphere of regret or indifference. It might not make sense to call such a thing a melody at all. Melody lives by defeating the necessity by which music must vanish in the act of being made. Melody arises as something that lingers and lives as something whose fate is to be restored. One reason for this is the original identification of melody with the expressive force of the human voice. Instrumental melody is derived from vocal melody, and it never wholly forgets its origins.

Keywords: melody; music; original; melancholy; enjoyment

Chapter.  10787 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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