World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Steps and skips

Article Id: WHEBN0003594213
Reproduction Date:

Title: Steps and skips  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Melody, Counterpoint, Double harmonic scale, Melodic motion, Cadence (music)
Collection: Intervals (Music), Melody
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Steps and skips

Major second on C.
Step: major second. About this sound Play  
Major third on C.
Skip: Major third. About this sound Play  
A chorale melody containing only steps, no skips: "Jesu, Leiden, Pein, un Tod". About this sound Play  

In music, a step, or conjunct motion,[1] is the difference in pitch between two consecutive notes of a musical scale. In other words, it is the interval between two consecutive scale degrees. Any larger interval is called a skip (also called a leap), or disjunct motion.[1]

In the diatonic scale, a step is either a minor second (sometimes also called half step) or a major second (sometimes also called whole step), with all intervals of a minor third or larger being skips. For example, C to D (major second) is a step, whereas C to E (major third) is a skip.

More generally, a step is a smaller or narrower interval in a musical line, and a skip is a wider or larger interval, with the categorization of intervals into steps and skips is determined by the tuning system and the pitch space used.

Melodic motion in which the interval between any two consecutive pitches is no more than a step, or, less strictly, where skips are rare, is called stepwise or conjunct melodic motion, as opposed to skipwise or disjunct melodic motion, characterized by frequent skips.


  • Half steps 1
  • Melody 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Half steps

Measured in semitones the difference between steps and skips in a diatonic scale becomes fairly clear:

  • Unison: 0
  • Steps: 1-2
  • Skips: 3+


"Pop Goes the Weasel" melody[2] is predominately steps.    
Webern's Variations for orchestra (1940), op. 30 (pp.23-24) melody[3] is predominately skips. About this sound Play  

Melody may be characterized by its degree and type of conjunct and disjunct motion. For example, Medieval plainchant melodies are generally characterized by conjunct motion with occasional thirds, fourths, and generally ascending fifths while larger intervals are quite rare though octave leaps may occur between two separate phrases.[4] Renaissance melodies are generally characterized by conjunct motion, with only occasional leaps of more than a fifth and then rarely anything but a sixth or octave.[1] In contrast, melody in the 20th century varied greatly including the diatonic idiom of the 18th century (Classical), the variety of idioms from the 19th century (Romantic), and newer nondiatonic scales in the 20th century.[5] Some of these later idioms included many or predominately leaps.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Bonds, Mark Evan (2006). A History of Music in Western Culture, p.123. 2nd ed. ISBN 0-13-193104-0.
  2. ^ Kliewer, Vernon (1975). "Melody: Linear Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music", Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music, p.270-301. Wittlich, Gary (ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-049346-5.
  3. ^ Marquis, G. Welton (1964). Twentieth Century Music Idioms, p.2. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
  4. ^ Bonds (2006), p.43.
  5. ^ Bonds (2006), p.540.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.