Musical knowledge


By way of introduction it is necessary to clarify a basic notion.


What do we mean by musical sound?

Nothing else, than a constant sound of regular frequency.

Contrary to this is the notion noise, or with other words clamor, which is a mixture of sounds of irregular frequency.


Another fundamental question.


What is music? 


All music is the mixture, the blend of rhythm, melody and tone. These elements of music do not exist alone, but musicology deals with them seperately – and so do we now. (The exception proves the rule: The drum-music sounding at the dawn of humanity’s history is also called rhythm-music.)


According to Charles Darwin (1809-1882) music evolved from the imitation of animals’ sounds.


According to Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712-1778) music and singing evolved from human speech.


Folklorists claim, that music evolved from work, and instruments evolved from working tools.


Elements of music




Rhythm is a word of Greek origin. It derives from the word rhüo – flowing, continuous.

In music: the relation of the time span between sequential sounds; usually the beating of a process.

Rhythm organizes itself around regular beating that musicians often imitate by stamping with their feet. Rhythm does not only exist in music, but in many other phenomena. Rhythm exists in speech, but mostly in poems; rhythm exists in heartbeats, breathing, the marching of soldiers and in numerous natural phenomena.



The musical examples on this page – with very few exception – are not the whole tracks, only short sections of music, in accordance with our age: “time is short.”


Motto: Pay attention to the rhythm! enjoy the rhythm!


E x a m p l e s


1/ A techno-track, its title: Yeke-yeke. Mixed by DJ Budai, the author is Mori Kanti.  


2/ A disco-track from the popular band of the 1970s, Boney M.


3/ A short section from the 30s’ swing-craze. The meaning of the word: dynamism. It was a really popular dance in the 1930s, mainly in America.


We can already state that rhythm emphasizes the quality of music in connection with dance.


4/ Jean Michel Jare’s composition titled: Magnetic fields is probably known by many, where the rhythm is provided by a drum machine. It is a solely electronic piece of music.


5/ In ragtime’s music a unique type of rhythm beats. The word’s meaning: broken rhythm. It originates from last century’s Negro folk music, and reached its peak in Scott Joplins works.


6/ I’m confident that everyone is familiar with Johann Strauss Sr.’s composiotion, Radetzky-march.


7 We are getting closer to “classical music”, when we listen to three extracts from the French composer’s, Ravel’s Bolero, which is built on an ancient Catalan melody, and a rhythm-pattern constantly repeated on drums. The gradually richer orchestration gives this piece its power and beauty.


8/ And now we listen to a short section of a Beethoven-sonata (sonata). Beethoven is said to have taken the rhythm from the sound of a galloping horse’s steps; of course this is not scientifically proved.


09/ We are listening to music with Hungarian rhythm: Brahms’ VI. Hungarian Dance; though the composer is German.


10/ Perhaps many are familiar with the minuet of Haydn’s Kettledrum symphony, here we can listen to a section from it. One may even dance to it. Its time signature: 3/4, which was considered the most perfect by the Greek.


11/ Beethoven’s II. movement of the VIII. symphony is characteristic of uniformly beating rhythm.


12/ Not all music’s rhythm beats uniformly, or beats at all.

We are listening to a section of Bach: Goldberg-variations. Glenn Gould plays the piano.


13/ We listen into the rhythm of two “Gamelan-music” pieces, which guard the old tradition of the Bali-islands /Indonesian archipelago/. We can only hear percussion instruments. You may read more about this on the internet!

The melody


What is melody?

A word of Greek origin, from Greek melōidia: singing, from melos: song + -ōidia, from aoidein: to sing. Melody and rhythm are music’s two central elements.


In the Hungarian Explanatory Dictionary melody is described as: “The rhythmic succession of musical notes of altering height formed into unity.” – Naturally there are many more definitions.


For me the following two are the simplest and most beautiful:


Mozart:  “Melody is the essence of music.”

Hegel: Melody is the free sounds of souls on the field of music.”



Motto: Listen to the melody!


E x a m p l e s


14 Let us listen to Christmas’ most beautiful melody in Elvis Presly performance.


15 A French chanson is next; singer: Mirelle Mathieu.


16 The South-American folk song El Condor Pasa is widely known. Played by Hardy Fritz’s orchestra.


17/ As we may have observed, so far most melodies have wave-movement, which can be proved by the following Hungarian folk song: Csinálosi erdõn…


In this simple folk song we can also observe, that the elevation of the melody is mostly followed by a descent. In other interpretation: an upward moving energy must be followed by a downward moving energy, and ultimately the energies are balance. Let us pay attention to this as well!

Balance is a significant requirement in all arts.


18/ A simple and beautiful example of balance is the first movement’s first theme of Mozart’s piano concerto in C-major. The melody is really simple.


19/ Another example of balance: a section of Schumann’s Daydream.


We can point out: there are all kinds of melodies. The number of melodies is immerse. No matter how long we examine their inner structure, or how long we try to solve its mysteries, we cannot come to any other and better conclusion that melody is the reflection of a human soul’s emotional waves. True melody evolves from emotion, and creates emotions in the listener as well; whether it fills our inner self with joy, mends our sad hearts, or raises thought in our mind, it ennobles our souls. A beautiful melody, which is to our liking, which we listen to again and again with pleasure, either if its classical or light music, it is necessary.



20/ In the first movement of Beethoven’s violin concerto in D-major, in the first theme’s melody we can feel the energies pushing each other tightly. The downward moving energy-arches of the repeating melodies sounding before the theme is succeeded by the energy of the theme’s upward moving melody, and balance is created.


21/ Gregorian chants, which were sung in churches, monasteries in the VIII.-IX. century, have interesting melodies; they were sung in Latin without accompaniment.

These melodies were unisonous and rich in arches, and they were sung in freestyle form. We are listening to a Hungarian Gregorian melody, its title: Rex Stephan – King István.


22/ Our next example is a choral from, Bach’s Matthew-passion.

This melody is very simple, and can be described with a single word: magnificent. Let us read the choral’s lyrics as well.


“When once I must depart, / Do not depart from me;

When I must suffer death, / Then stand thou by me!

When I most full of fear / At heart shall be,

Then snatch me from the terrors / Of fear and pain by thy strength”


Bach composed his church music pieces with a deeply religious soul. His chorals are characteristic of simplicity, absolute faith in God and Christian humility. The chorals were well known by the members of the congregation during services, and they sand along the church choir with all their heart.



It is important to know, that melody cannot exist alone, it must have rhythm; meanwhile rhythm can exist without having a melody. Many claim that music itself was developed from rhythm, as it is music’s most ancient element. „In the beginning was rhythm.” - wrote Richard Wagner. Primitive nations percussion instruments, drums primarily provided rhythm, which can also be called rhythm-music. Thus rhythm is the older, more naturalistic element, of which we can say it came from nature itself, while melody is more human, because it stems from human emotions, human soul – and this is why it is the most important element of music. Many claim that without melody, there is no music.



Now we will listen to a few examples form Beethoven’s symphonies.


23/ I. symphony III. movement. The melody of this Trio is very simple. Contemporary criticism wrote the following: “a sounding indescribably sweet”.


24/ IV. symphony  II. movement. An intimate, poetic melody with an unusually long arch. The movement begins with the so called beating-motif, which is repeated on full orchestra in fortissimo at the end of the melody.


25/ IV. symphony IV. movement. We are listening to the first and second theme of the exposition as well. The latter begins on oboe. In the mean time, pay attention to the rhythm too. The first theme is the so called “perpetuum-mobile” theme.


26/ We are listening to the first theme, and the two variation development of the first theme from the VI. Pastorale symphony’s V. movement. We can observe Beethoven’s development method, where he composes a melody from motifs consisting of a few notes, then in variation form elevates it to the rank of hymns.


27/ Beethoven Opus 90 piano sonata II. movement. We are listening to a beautiful melody that instantly grabs our attention; intimate, poetic, and tends toward romanticism.


Again we must point out that there are countless melodies, but our time is finite, so now we will move on to take a journey into the empire of dynamics and tone; more precisely, listen to some sections of a few musical pieces.





choral, /originally a Greek word/, Ger – protestant church folksong,  <back 


the Passion, lat – torture, rel. – part of the Gospel in which the events around Christ’s death on the cross is told, music – oratory of Christ’s torture, a lasting musical genre since the IV. century  <back 


sonata, itliterally: piece played on a musical instrument; musical genre; „mostly” consists of three movements; after developing for three hundred years it reaches its climax in classical music (the phrase sonata form means something entirely different: it refers to the structure of the music) < back