The chosen phrase should be pronounced as a mantra – rhythmically and repeatedly, into the Melodica inlet slit, with any key pressed – let’s say, middle “A”. We’ll get ‘riff”, i.e. repeated rhythmic phrase. Historically riffs in music originate from Africa; the basics of blues, jazz, rock, funk etc., are all build on riffs.
Riff is a smallest musical form in jazz and blues.
Improvisation starts with riff.
All the popular dancing music, as well as songs, is built on riffs, and their composition is usually starts with creating riff – trigger.
The moment when Melodica is sounded even on one note with pronounced phrase – this is the moment when musical composition is born; if the words are coming while you play – we have a spontaneous composition.
In vocal music it is called recitative. So, we have the following: anybody holding Melodica can easily create the musical recitative.
Just think – how many years would it take to learn this on any other instrument?
Speech intonation and melodic intonation
Reciting text into Melodica with any key pressed (recitative) sounds literally like monotonous speech; one of the most essential elements of human speech is lacking: intonation.
There are many opinions regarding definition of intonation. Phonetic musicians such as Daniel Jones, O’Connor and others side with the narrow definition: intonation is the variations of the voice pitch.
But we won’t be concerned with defining the term “intonation'”. More important is to assign the intonation and learn how to use it in improvisation.
Intonation in speech (and in music) consists of ascents and descents, flying up and falling down. In music it is sometimes replaced by the term “melodic contour”.
Actually, there are three basic intonations: ascending intonation (simply: question intonation), descending intonation (simply: answer intonation) and monotonous horizontal intonation – which is what you could produce on Melodica so far.
Each kind of intonation symbolizes one of the three main human emotional states: strictly horizontal is associated with complete tranquility, ascending intonation – with emotion, descending intonation – with calming own.
Our own regular speech intonation is so habitual and spontaneous that, when we need to recreate it, even roughly, on the instrument – we find it quite difficult.
At the same time most of us learn to imitate someone’s speech in childhood; some even grow up to become professional imitators.
What we need at this stage is to imitate on Melodica our own speech intonation. These should not be the exact sounds or even in the same register – rather something very approximate.
The main point is to catch the ups and downs of your talk intonation, while pressing not the separate keys but several simultaneously – what is called “clusters”. Such “blobs” will completely neutralize feelings of harmony, mode or tonality, releasing the effect of intonation. As a result we get your intonation scheme.
But first you need to realize the exact direction of the spoken intonation: up, down, or horizontal. For that the right hand movements can be used, drawing in the air the directions in the rhythm of your speech: vertical movements if intonation is up or down, and horizontally to the right if the intonation is flat.
Then the movements should be transferred to Melodica keyboard.
It won’t be easy for the first time; here you can use the recording equipment – to record your own voice. Such equipment is very common today, especially among the musicians .
Absolute note pitches and the intervals between them are not indicated in this example, but the arrows under notes indicate the exact direction of the phrase intonation, as spoken by the author. Most probably, intonation will be different if the phrase is spoken by someone else; voice intonation is an individual characteristic of the person speaking, like finger prints.