Audio: step (0:08)
step plays a melody in F lydian on a violin. The step figure shows the notes in the score move by step.
A step is a movement from one note to an adjoining note in a scale.
A step is an interval of a semitone or a whole tone in a mode and in the melodic minor scale. The harmonic minor scale contains one step of three semitones. In a chromatic scale a step is a movement of a semitone.
A step turn is a change in the direction of pitch, from ascending to descending or vice versa. A step turn can be used for variety, as in step, or it may be imposed by physical constraints. For example, a singer can sing a range of about a tenth, which means a step turn will be necessary after ten consecutive steps.
Stepwise motion is a feature of all types of music throughout history and is common in melody. Various benefits are claimed. It is said to produce a smooth sound which is easy on the ear of a listener, singers find steps easy to sing, and a step is less stressful than a repeat. The counter-arguments are that a step restricts motion to a small interval, consecutive steps may sound boring after a while, and many singers and musical instruments can manage leaps as easily as steps.