Melodic Target Notes

Melodic target notes of a phrase should be avoided for as long as possible before reaching that target. For example, if your melodic phrase has a target note of a c, you should try to not use that c (if possible also in no other octave) in the bars before that. Otherwise the target will not create that feeling of actually reaching an important point revealing “new information” but rather feel like it has been “said” already.

The same could also apply to other musical properties. Withholding an instrumental colour, a chord, a register or a specific rhythm for a while will make its (re)appearance particularly spectacular. The more time distance you can create before this target since its last use the more dramatic will it feel when you reach it again. This strategy is particularly useful for buildups and climax but is a nice rule of thumb for composition in general. If you feel like your music is treading water try analyzing whether it lacks to provide new information for too long.


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