Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...
is the way the melodic
A melody , also tune, voice, or line, is a linear succession of musical tones which is perceived as a single entity...
Rhythm may be generally defined as a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time may be applied to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or...
ic, and harmonic
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...
materials are combined in a composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...
(Benward & Saker 2003, 131), thus determining the overall quality of sound of a piece. Texture is often described in regards to the density, or thickness, and range
In music, the range of a musical instrument is the distance from the lowest to the highest pitch it can play. For a singing voice, the equivalent is vocal range...
, or width between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices (see types of texture below) (Benward & Saker 2003, 131). A piece's texture may be affected by the number and character of parts playing at once, the timbre
In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound or tone that distinguishes different types of sound production, such as voices and musical instruments, such as string instruments, wind instruments, and percussion instruments. The physical characteristics of sound that determine the...
of the instruments or voices playing these parts and the harmony, tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...
, and rhythms used.
The types categorized by number and relationship of parts are analyzed and determined through the labeling of primary textural elements: primary melody (PM), secondary melody (SM), parallel supporting melody (PSM), static support (SS), harmonic support (HS), rhythmic support (RS), and harmonic and rhythmic support (HRS) (Benward & Saker 2003, p. 136).
In musical terms, particularly in the fields of music history and music analysis, some common terms for different types of texture are:
In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave . If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in...
| Monophonic texture includes a single melodic line with no accompaniment. (Bent-wod & cok-Slaker 2003, 136). PSMs often double or parallel the PM they support (Benward & Saker 2003, p. 137).
|| Two distinct lines, the lower sustaining a drone (constant pitch) while the other line creates a more elaborate melody above it. Pedal tone
In tonal music, a pedal point is a sustained tone, typically in the bass, during which at least one foreign, i.e., dissonant harmony is sounded in the other parts. A pedal point sometimes functions as a "non-chord tone", placing it in the categories alongside suspensions, retardations, and passing...
s or ostinati would be an example of a SS (Benward & Saker 2003, p. 137).
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...
| Multiple melodic voices which are to a considerable extent independent from or in imitation with one another. Characteristic texture of the Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...
, also prevalent during the Baroque period
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...
(Benward & Saker 2003,1999,199,158,137, 136,129,110,90,59,35,11,9,0). Polyphonic textures may contain several PMs (Benward & Saker 2003, p. 137).
In music, homophony is a texture in which two or more parts move together in harmony, the relationship between them creating chords. This is distinct from polyphony, in which parts move with rhythmic independence, and monophony, in which all parts move in parallel rhythm and pitch. A homophonic...
|The most common texture in Western music: melody and accompaniment. Multiple voices of which one, the melody, stands out prominently and the others form a background of harmonic accompaniment. If all the parts have much the same rhythm, the homophonic texture can also be described as homorhythmic. Characteristic texture of the Classical period
Classical music is the art music produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western liturgical and secular music, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times...
and continued to predominate in Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....
while in the 20th century, "popular music is nearly all homophonic," and, "much of jazz is also" though, "the simultaneous improvisations of some jazz musicians creates a true polyphony" (Benward & Saker 2003, 136). Homophonic textures usually contain only one PM (Benward & Saker 2003, p. 137). HS and RS are often combined, thus labeled HRS (Benward & Saker 2003, p. 137).
In music, homorhythm is a texture where there is a "sameness of rhythm in all parts" or "very similar rhythm" as would be used in simple hymn or chorale settings. Homorhythm is a condition of homophony....
|Multiple voices with similar rhythmic material in all parts. Also known as "chordal". May be considered a condition of homophony or distinguished from it.
In music, heterophony is a type of texture characterized by the simultaneous variation of a single melodic line. Such a texture can be regarded as a kind of complex monophony in which there is only one basic melody, but realized at the same time in multiple voices, each of which plays the melody...
| Two or more voices simultaneously performing variations of the same melody.
|| A texture most commonly found in rock music that starts off mono or homophonic, and gradually changes and builds up to polyphonic. This also refers to the volume of a song. See: musical form
The term musical form refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections...
Although in music instruction certain styles or repertoires of music are often identified with one of these descriptions this is basically added music.
(for example, Gregorian chant is described as monophonic, Bach Chorales are described as homophonic and fugues as polyphonic),
many composers use more than one type of texture in the same piece of music.
A simultaneity is more than one complete musical texture occurring at the same time, rather than in succession.
A more recent type of texture first used by György Ligeti is micropolyphony
Micropolyphony is a type of 20th century musical texture involving the use of sustained dissonant chords that shift slowly over time. According to David Cope, "a simultaneity of different lines, rhythms, and timbres"...
. Other textures include polythematic, polyrhythmic, onomatopoeic, compound, and mixed or composite textures (Corozine 2002, p. 34).
- Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
- Copland, Aaron. What to Listen for in Music. Published by Signet Classic, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY.
- Hanning, Barbara Russano
Barbara Russano Hanning is an American musicologist who specializes in 16th and 17th century Italian music. She has also written works on the music of 18th-century France and on musical iconography. She earned a PhD in musicology from Yale University...
, Concise History of Western Music, based on Donald Jay Grout & Claudia V. Palisca's A History of Western Music, Fifth Edition. Published by W. W. Norton & Company, New York, Copyright 1998. ISBN 0-393-97168-6.
- 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.