Melodic Dictation

Melodic Dictation – major and minor keys

The melodic dictations in Levels 1 and 2 tackle major and minor keys in separate sections: 1-MAJ, 1-MIN, 2-MAJ, 2-MIN.

In Level 1, which is geared toward the beginner, the student should work through the chapters in major keys before tackling those in minor keys.  The halfway point of the level corresponds to the transition from one mode to the other.

In Level 2, however, it is recommended that both sections be tackled in parallel (the notion of mixed mode is fundamental to this level).  Note that for a given subject, the chapter numbers are identical in the major and minor sections to facilitate alternating between the two.

Levels 3 and 4 each have only one melodic dictation section: 3-MEL and 4-MEL.  The chapters in these levels freely mix major and minor keys except in cases where a specific topic applies only to one mode or the other (e.g., the dominant of the 2nd degree in major).


Melodic Dictation – chapter organization

There are two types of melodic dictation:

  • Preparatory melodic dictation
  • Fragmented melodic dictation

Note: In the classification codes, after the chapter number, the preparatory dictation is identified by the letter A and the fragmented dictation by the letter B.

The preparatory melodic dictations are found only in the chapters of Levels 1 and 2.  These simple exercises introduce typical melodic figures for each subject.  One preparatory section contains 10 dictations.

The fragmented melodic dictations are the heart of all the chapters, regardless of level.  Each chapter consists of between 4 and 12 dictations, according to the elements defined by the specific topic.

The last chapter of each section is a chapter summary; it is a synthesis of the topics introduced.


Preparatory Melodic Dictations – instructions

The preparatory melodic dictations must be written on a TREBLE staff.

Their format is always three measures of 4/4, without an upbeat. The third measure of each is reserved for the resolution note, which is always a whole note on the tonic.  Each melody consists primarily of quarter and eighth notes, with the occasional half note.


Preparatory Melodic Dictation – description of audio files

The preparatory melodic dictations are performed on the piano. Each audio file presents a single dictation.  A dictation’s corresponding scale and arpeggio, as well as the “count-off” (click) of four beats in quarter notes is heard at the beginning of each audio file.

The key of the dictation is indicated in the classification code following the dictation number.  By default, the key is major.  The following letters are used:

  • “m” indicates a minor key
  • “f” for flat
  • “s” for sharp


Melodic Dictation Fragments – instructions

The fragmented melodic dictations must be written on a TREBLE staff.

The standard format of a fragmented dictation is eight or nine measures; each is in four fragments of two measures, consisting of nine to eleven notes each. These parameters may be varied depending on the context.

The time signatures used for melodic dictations are: 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 and 6/8.

In Levels 1 and 2, all melodic dictations end on the tonic.  In Levels 3 and 4, dictations gradually begin to end on the mediant (3rd degree) instead.

The final note of a melodic dictation always falls on a strong beat.  For example:

  • The first beat of a measure
  • The second beat of a 6/8 measure
  • The third beat of a 4/4 measure

The use of an anacrusis (upbeat), if the case arises, is not announced.  The listener must perceive its presence.

The anacrusis is not used in Level 1 melodic dictations.

If there is an anacrusis, its equivalent value is not deducted from the final measure unless there are rests at the end.


Fragmented Melodic Dictation – description of audio files

The fragmented melodic dictations are performed on the piano.

There are several audio files for one fragmented melodic dictation:

  • First file: “before dictation” (bdct) – Spoken word instructions containing the following information: 1. the number of measures; 2. the time signature; 3. the key; 4. the number of fragments; 5. the junction points of the fragments.
  • Second file: “complete dictation” (dct) – Piano playback featuring a scale, a cadence and the dictation performed in its entirety.
  • Subsequent files: piano playback of fragments (frg) –  There are as many files as there are fragments (frg1 to…).

The “count-in” (click) that precedes each fragment is executed as follows:

  • In quarter notes if it is in a simple meter (2/4, 3/4, 4/4)
  • In eighth notes if it is in a compound meter (6/8)