Path to melody

The function of the kinetic linear path in plastic organization may be compared with the function of melody in musical composition, and the following observations of musicians should be helpful in bringing about further clarification.

Gyorgy Kepes, Language of Vision, 1944, p. 59.

“Music, theoretically considered, consists altogether of lines of tone. It more nearly resembles a picture or an architectural drawing, than any other art creation; the difference being that in a drawing the lines are visible and constant, while in music they are audible and in motion. The separate tones are the points through which the lines are drawn; and the impression which is intended, and which is apprehended by the intelligent listener, is not that of single tones, but of continuous lines of tones, describing movement, curves and angles, rising, falling, poising—directly analogous to the linear impressions conveyed by a picture or drawing.”

Gyorgy Kepes quoting P. Goetschius’ Elementary Counterpoint
in Language of Vision, 1944, p. 59.

“The groups of tones in a melody which are harmonically connected are like the links of a chain; they give the melody color and sheen. They are the real body of the melody, strange as it may seem to speak of body in connection with a linear phenomenon like a melody. It must not be forgotten that a melody is only primarily linear, and that the comparison with a curved line applies only to the most obvious, external aspect of a chain of tones. The melodic thread has an ever-changing but ever-present volume or thickness.”

Gyorgy Kepes quoting Hindemith’s Craft of Musical Composition
in Language of Vision, 1944, p. 63.

The hardest thing to talk about in music is melody….Melody is something that you can’t really even quantify. There are things that you can say are melodius, but like I said before, there is a way to perceive a bunch of trash cans getting knocked down a flight of stairs as melody. What melody represents to me is actually what’s happening in between the notes. It’s the way its all connected. People use a word like swing or flow. It’s the glue that connects ideas and the way you express time in a narrative way is the thing that makes it accessible. It’s the same way that if I am speaking I want to speak clearly enough that you know what I am talking about. That quality is absolutely central to Miles Davis, John Coltrain and on and on. There is a clarity of intent in their expositions that is very close to what story telling is.

Pat Metheny
Music and the Brain at Neuroscience 2018
November 3, 2018, quoting video at approximately 1:22:00