Repeating Pitches in a Melody

When writing a melody, many inexperienced composers tend to overuse certain pitches, their melody kind of gets stuck at a pitch and keeps on using it over and over again. For a certain length it is okay to hover around one pitch but it can get quite tiresome after a while. When you are not quite happy with your melody and don’t know exactly why, try looking for pitches that keep reoccuring several times and try to fix them by moving them to new pitches. The lack of new musical information when repeating or coming back to a note several times within a short period of time usually lowers the melodic tension and therefore results in a boring, if not even tiresome melody.

Of course the decision about this is based on what musical style the piece is in and many ostinato driven, minimalist cues use the device of (melodic) repetition very extensively but it is always a matter of what musical expectation you build up in your listener. If you start off a piece with a repeating cell of notes, your listener is very quickly accustomed to the fact that he/she is now about to listen to a minimalist piece where heavy repetition is part of the idea. But if you start a piece with an expansive neo-romantic love theme and halfway through get stuck at a pitch that keeps re-occuring, your listener might be alienated by that sudden lack of new musical information.


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