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Just a melody ..

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Thre's  many solo instruments which, on their own, play a single melody or single notes only. Clarinet, Oboe, saxophone, flute, recorder tin whistle and so on..

And we are lucky with free reed family of instruments that we can play chords also ( just as one performer)..

I write a lot of music on single line only mainly because it is not always used ( in classical context at least) as often as it could be.

The sound of single line melody is something that makes you really listen in a different way; it is ( to look at on a page)..apparently bare and unadorned ( like twigs in a winter scene perhaps)..yet it has everything possible within its seemingly straightforward appearance. 

I always think presented with say a melodic line on page or screen gives so much possibility to go even more your own way of expressing the music in those symbols on the page; not forgetting the harmony has it's important place too. But with the single line on its own, it is like a pencil drawing which still carries depth and tonal value within that apparent symbolic language.

The single line melody has so much still to offer



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I used to play fairly regularly at open mics. I'd play unaccompanied tenor sax, or ocarina. Sometimes a recorder. I'd just play a melody, of course, and at first I felt very self-conscious about it, as of I was failing to deliver a full piece of music. I especially felt that way on the sax; we're so used to it being part of an ensemble. 

But I discovered that people actually like this kind of playing. There's a purity to it, and it brings a smile to people's faces. They listen intently. Of course the key is to choose a melody that can bear the weight of this kind of playing and hold people's attention. Many melodies cannot. 

For example, I found that the tune "Crested Hens" (Les poules huppées) mesmerises listeners, played on any instrument, even sax. I have no idea why, but it always works. Many O'Carolan tunes too, most of them completely diatonic.

Melodies are powerful. 

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I used to play a trumpet and have recorded a few tunes in trumpet style.

. There has of course been many concertina players playing jazz in jazz bands.

The wonderful playing of John Nixon springs to mind.

A few recordings of this style would be nice. 

It is wet and rainy here so I think I will record one to get us going.


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I think that if you hear one single instrument played in a setting where there is a nice echo or depth to carry the sound, like maybe hall or a church, as example, it seems to require a very focussed way of listening for any audience, because you have all those spaces between the notes, rests, that become more apparent, and it has the quality of one of those anient chants, from a distant time; unsupported except by its own moment of being played by a musician.

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