Transforming Melodies with Legato: A Guide to Expressive Music

Creating music that captures the essence of human emotion can be challenging, especially when dealing with rigid, mechanical sounds. This article, based on a video transcript about making melodies more expressive, offers insights into the use of legato to infuse life and fluidity into your music compositions.

The Challenge of Rigid Melodies

Many musicians face a common issue: their melodies sound too rigid. This rigidity is often due to the sharp attack of each note, resembling the sound of a pronounced “T”. This can make the melody feel mechanical and detached from the expressive quality found in natural, vocal-driven music.

Learning from Vocalists

A good way to understand how to bring expressiveness into melodies is to observe vocalists. When singing, vocalists use a mix of hard and soft attacks on words, creating a dynamic and emotive expression. For instance, some words start with a strong attack, like the letter “T”, while others begin softly, like “W” in “water”. This variation brings a natural flow to their singing.

The Role of Legato in Music

Legato is a technique where one note overlaps the next, eliminating the distinct attack from each note. This overlap creates a smoother, more connected sound, mimicking the natural flow of human voice. By using legato, musicians can soften the start of the notes following the initial one, allowing for a more fluid and expressive melody.

Practical Application of Legato

To apply legato, focus on the transition between notes. For example, in a sequence where the notes feel disjointed, select a note that will retain its bright attack, and then adjust the following notes to start softer and blend more seamlessly. This technique can be applied in digital audio workstations (DAWs) or while playing an instrument, providing a subtle yet significant change in the melody’s character.


Legato is a powerful tool for any musician looking to infuse their melodies with expressiveness and emotion. By understanding and applying this technique, rigid and mechanical sounding sequences can be transformed into fluid, emotive musical phrases. Remember, the goal of legato is not just to change how notes are played, but to convey a story and evoke emotions through your music.