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Melodic and metric prominence

The layer analysis of stage three involves balancing the requirements of melodic fluency (finding simple connections that are as stepwise as possible) with two other considerations:

  • melodic prominence is dictated by the position of a note in the texture, so, in an upper voice, the higher of two possible notes in considered more melodically prominent.
  • metric prominence is the extent to which a note is accentuated by its position in the bar.
In the example below, the G in the first full bar is the most melodically prominent note in this group of elaborations of the dominant. While this G is also the most metrically prominent of the group, the F# at the end of the next is the least accentuated note from this elaboration. In general melodic fluency and melodic prominence take precedence, but metric promience is worth taking into account in your analytical decision-making process.

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© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst