Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Melody and Harmony

Melody vs Harmony

When one listens to a song on the radio, we often do not think of separating the melody and harmony, and compare which of the two is stronger.  However, both melody and harmony play key roles in the development of any musical piece.  It is the melody which we often focus on first, the vocal quality of a song or tune.  However, it is the harmony, the notes and chords of the music, which holds up the melody and makes the song a success.

Melodies are comprised of the musical skills of the person who is singing the song.  That person will utilize a combination of tone and pitch to compliment the harmony of a song.  It is the harmony that creates the mood for any song.  It is developed by one or any combination of instruments, using rhythm and chords, to set the tone for a song.  Melody is often described as the horizontal portion of a song, whereas the harmony is the vertical portion.  Horizontal, because the tone takes you through the song, and vertical as it can increase the tempo of the song or decrease it.

When creating a melody, it is important to incorporate three important parts: shape, range, and movement.  These three characteristics allow for a tune to range among various notes, while flowing thoroughly becoming an independent expression of song.  A harmony is created by different standards, rather than incorporating a large range, a harmony must maintain a fluid flow throughout a song.  Harmonies may take two forms, subordinate and coordinate.  Coordinate, the more commonly used, is the flow between notes on specific time patterns.  Subordinate is the separation of notes from each other, not necessarily leading to one another.

A melody can be used to get any message across, as the lyrics can depict exactly what they are intended to.  The lyrics can clearly draw the attention of its chosen audience.  A harmony is able to do the same but in a less obvious manner.  Harmonies are made up of various notes, C, D, E, G and A, which can create the mood and tone for a piece of music.  There are even songs which are created without a melody, focusing on instruments to harmonize well enough together to tell a story to the audience.

The differences between harmonies and melodies are numerous, however when the two are created to complement one another, the results can be great.


  1. Harmony and melody partner to create a successful song.  The melody is made up of the words or the main instrument in a song, the harmony is the background tone created by other instruments.
  2. Melody is the horizontal portion of a song and harmony is the vertical portion of a song.
  3. Melodies incorporate shape, range, and movement.  Harmonies are either subordinate or coordinate.
  4. Melodies are often completed with lyrical music notes.  Harmonies used musical instruments and a combination of notes to make a fluid sound.

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1 Comment

  1. Technically you aren’t completely correct the instruments aren’t the only thing that can Harmonize because in Acappella you don’t have music but there is still a harmony because most commonly Altos create the harmony and the sopranos sing the melody.If I am incorrect or you had stated that and I missed it I’m sorry for my 2 cense but I feel if I’m correct we should give some of that credit to the Altos

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