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# So far, every song I've heard is different from the other. Won't that end some day, where there will be nothing different left to compose?

### 3 Answers

- husoskiLv 71 month agoFavorite Answer
What are the possibilities in one measure of 4-4 time in the key of C-major, using nothing that isn't a multiple of an 8th note, and only one octave of the scale from C to the next higher C, with no accidentals. Tie's will be allowed, though, so any note duration that's a multiple of an 8th node is possible.

And everything's a note. Ain't no rests for the wicked. :^)

That breaks one measure into 8 time intervals with 7 places between them. There is one way to one note (the whole note) to fill the bar, and 8 scale notes to use. That's 8 whole notes.

Things get more interesting with 2 or more intervals. There are 7 places you can pick that will divide the measure into two intervals. Each of those has 8 choices for the first note and independently 8 for the second for a total of 8^2 = 64 possibilities.

(7 ways to divide the measure) * (64 possibilities for each way) = 448 ways to fill a measure with exactly two notes.

To divide the measure into three notes, you can pick any two of the 7 "between" points. There are 7*6/2 = 21 ways to do that, for a total of 21 * (8^3) = 21 * 512 = 10752 ways to fill a measure with exactly 3 notes. I wrote a tiny program to finish the calclulations for k notes out of a max of 8, with 8 scale tones possible for each different note:

notes in # of different # of different

measure rhythms note sequences

1 1 8

2 7 448

3 21 10752

4 35 143360

5 35 1146880

6 21 5505024

7 7 14680064

8 1 16777216

Total: 38263752

So, with that limited musical vocabulary, there are 38,263,752 possible ways to write one measure of "melody line" with nothing shorter than an eight note. I ran the computation for 16th notes and the total is 1,647,129,056,757,192.

Sure, most of those won't be melodic...and because all sequences are counted it covers all of seven the Pythagorean "modes" (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, etc.) so it really isn't just "C major". But you get the idea, right? There are more possible melodies than there are cells in the brain.

Add a second measure and those numbers are squared! I'll let you work out what adding a harmony part does...