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Texture in music

The layers found within music and their respective roles.

TermDefinition
Layer The most common of these found in musical texture are melody, accompaniment and rhythm. A single instrumental or vocal line could be one of these. More than one instrument or voice may also be part of this.
Doubling When another instrument or voice plays the same musical material, sometimes higher or lower even.
Unison This is created when instruments/voices perform the same melody at the same pitch (can be in different octaves).
Monophonic This (meaning one layer/sound) describes music that has a single melodic layer. This layer may be performed by one or more instruments/performers. E.g. people singing ‘Happy Birthday’ in unison, this would be Monophonic as long as the same rhythms and pitches are being performed. If some singers were singing the melody with slight variation/ornamentation the texture would be Heterophonic. See ‘Heterophonic’.
Homophonic This type of texture contains a main melodic line with any form of chordal accompaniment. The chordal accompaniment can be anything from orchestral/guitar/piano/vocal accompaniment. The chordal accompaniment may follow the rhythm of the melody or have an independent rhythm.
Polyphonic This type of texture is created when two or more independent melodies play at the same time. They may be accompanied or unaccompanied.
Heterophonic This texture type is rarely encountered in Western music. This type of texture texture is created when the instruments or voices are performing the same melody but some of the instruments/voices may be performing the melody with variations/ornamentations. An example of this is when a group of people sing Happy Birthday or another song together because no one sings it exactly he same way like in a choir.
Melodic role The prominent (most important) layer (tune).
Harmonic role (accompaniment role) The instruments/voices that harmonically supports the main melody. (eg guitars/keyboards/orchestras etc)
Rhythmic role The instruments that are playing a role that provide accompaniment that supports or establishes the pulse or beat in the music.
Counter Melody A melodic line that is independent of the main melody performed at the same time. These meoldies are usually in a higher or lower register but can be in the same octave as the main melody.
Chordal accompaniment The accompaniment consists of chords. The chords may follow the rhythm of the melodic line or have an independent rhythm. This usually makes the texture Hohmophonic.
Full Chords Can be created by a piano or several guitars or orchestral instruments combining to create full chords.
Oom pah pah An accompaniment used generally in 3/4 time with the first note in the bass and chords played on the 2nd and 3rd crotchet.
Rhythmic Chordal Accompaniment The chords are being performed using a rhythmic pattern (Ostinato) often by guitar or piano.
Sustained Chords Long or drawn out chords.
A Capella Literal translation means 'as in chapel'. A vocal (only)/sung piece with no instrumental accompaniment. There may be vocal accompaniment
Density The textural density of a song is defined by the number of instruments. A full Romantic orchestra playing would create a very full texture.
Density level - empty No instruments
Density level - Sparse Very thin - 1 or 2 instruments or voices
Density level - Moderately full 3-5 Instruments
Density level - Full a large group of instruments
Density level - very full or very dense A very large group of instruments
Tutti Everyone is playing
Created by: david.ivinson