Melody and Intonation

Liudmila P. Kazantseva


The musicological concept of melody, notwithstanding all its capacity and self-sufficiency, is closely connected
with another key concept – that of “intonation.” This is testified by the constantly perceptible agility of substituting one
of these terms with the other by musicians. Equating intonation with melody is especially characteristic for musicians
who think in a linear fashion – vocalists and performers on string and wind instruments. Musical scholarship also
tends to connect and even occasionally mutually substitute these two concepts. From hence arises the necessity of
pondering over the differentiation between the concepts of melody and intonation, the specificity of each of them
and the justification of their rapprochement and mutual substitution. For this end the author of the article juxtaposes
of these two concepts according to several parameters and examines them within the structure of musical content.
Thereby we discover their proximity to each other as bearers of semantic meanings and, on the other hand, their
considerable distance from each other according to other parameters. Considering the fact that even in the meaninggenerating
sense melody and intonation do not coincide with each other, mutual substitution of these concepts becomes
impossible. Only in cases of expressive one-voice motives or phrases (for instance, in certain rhetorical figures) they
become almost totally equated with each other.

Keywords: melody, intonation, musical content, Boris Asafiev.

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