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Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt

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Motives

More often than not, the strongest and most recognizable feature of the line is the motive/s from which it is built. All memorable tunes are made up of recognizable motives. A motive is simply a short snippet of melody that is readily recognizable to the ear because of its distinctive rhythm.

The best-known example of a motive is in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: da - da - da - daaaa....! But this principle doesn’t just apply to classical music. It is a universally recognized principle behind melodic composition. Whatever tunes you write, if they are to be memorable, they will be built up from motives.

Motives of one sort or another are used in all types of music. They generally employ two or three notes played with a strong, readily identifiable ...

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