Most people can hum a variety of melodies, from tunes learned in childhood, such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” to Christmas songs to famous classical melodies, such as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, to the melody of the current hot songs on the Top 40. If you think about these tunes, you may realize that melody is essentially a series of pitches joined together with rhythm created by different lengths of each note. Thus, we can define melody as a rhythmically organized sequence of notes, which we perceive as a single musical unit or idea. What carries melody beyond pitch and rhythm is that the sequence forms a unit with properties that transcend the individual pitches and lengths of notes. A melody coheres in time to create an experience in its listeners.
Go to the next tab to listen to Debussy's Clare de Lune on the piano so see how melody forms a coherent unit.