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The 7 Musical Elements

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Jillian Dearling

on 9 November 2012

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Transcript of The 7 Musical Elements

Texture refers to the layers of sound, what is happening at any particular point in time in the music, sometimes referred to as how "Thick" or "Thin" a piece is. TEXTURE Best thought of as the 'quality' of the sound. The way different instruments or voices sound within the piece. Here it is described in 3 layers. TIMBRE How is the main melody constructed?
Remember, the Melody is the bit you hum to yourself when remembering the song! MELODY Essentially, two or more pitches sounding together, sometimes referred to as CHORDS. Harmony The way a piece has been put together, referring to repeated sections of music, choruses and verses. A Brief Outline for Year 10 Students The 7 Musical Elements Thin Textures Thick Textures Monophonic Homophonic Polyphonic Homophonic Literally "One Sound", therefore when one sound is being played, without accompaniment. Keep in mind this is very different to "One Instrument", as many instruments can play more than one sound (eg. piano or guitar). It is also possible for a group of instruments or voices to produce "One Sound" in the form of unison. "Veni Emmanuel is a good example of
monophony for the first verse Literally meaning "Same Sound", it refers to
two or more parts playing different notes but
moving at the same time. Usually found in
church hymns or choral music, and can often
be described as 'chordal'. Another 'near-homophonic
texture is a melody accompanied by a chordal
pattern. Found in many popular styles of music
today. Meaning "Many Sounds", is when there
are many independent parts, sometimes
sounding like many different 'melodies'
moving at different times and playing
different notes. Good examples include
Fugues or Canons. Homophonic can also be a thicker
texture, simply by adding more
notes within the chord. Instruments How instrument is being played Any alteration of the sound, acoustically or electronically What would you call the instruments
being played in the piece? Be as
specific as you can, eg. 'string ensemble',
or 'Tenor male voice'. Is the instrument being played in a higher register or lower register? Could the sound being made be described as tinny or bright or dark or muffled? Is the way the instrumentalist is playing special? eg. strumming, plucking, stacatto, legato? Has there been any alteration of the sound? Can you hear the size of the room or space they are playing in? Has the guitar player put any particular effect on the instrument? Is a special mute being used for the trumpet? Has the piano player "Prepared" the piano with nuts and bolts on the strings!!!! DYNAMICS The relative loudness and softness of sound and the transition between these. What is the volume of the piece? It probably doesn't stay the same for the whole piece. How does the volume change? Does it change suddenly (terraced) or does it gradually get louder (crescendo) or softer (decrescendo)? DURATION The relative length of sounds and silences in music. Beat and Pulse Meter - Is the piece in a 3 or 4 or 2 feel? Could you describe the piece as being a march or a waltz? Time Signature - different to Meter, refers to the actual break down of beats in a bar, and can be either simple or compound in nature. Tempo - How fast or slow is the piece and does it change? Talk in beats per minute (BPM) and then try to give it a musical name, Wikipedia is good for this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tempo Rhythm Are there any significant rhythms in the piece? Repeated sections, ostinato's or significantly different rhythms?

Also, think about if the piece is rhythmically syncopated or tends to be on the beat. STRUCTURE Binary - AB Ternary - ABA Rondo - ABACADA etc. Strophic - Verse, Verse, Verse etc. Verse/Chorus - Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus etc. Key/Tonal Center What key is the melody in? Usually it's the
same key that the entire piece is in, however
some pieces use a RELATIVE key or MODE. Repetitions Melodic Ostinato - A pattern repeated in the melody,
think "Sweet Disposition" by Temper Trap, in the Coda at the very end of the piece (skip to 2:30)"A moment, a love, a dream a love etc." repeated under the main melody. Melodic Contour Melodic Contour refers to the general DIRECTION
the melody moves in. Look at the overall effect of
what is happening, not note by note. Ascending contour - Moves upwards Descending Contour - Moves downwards Angular Contour - Moves very angularly Static - Doesn't move much Accompaniment Styles Accompaniment supports a melody line.

Composers often choose a particular style or technique
which may include...

Broken Chords - A chord that is not played as one
Block Chords - A chord played together as a "block"
Ostinati and Riffs - Small sections repeated, almost as a second melody line played under the original Chord Patterns and Progressions These days, we are lucky enough to have great websites such as "Ultimate Guitar" which will generally tell us exactly what chords are being played at what time in the piece - this works for most pop or modern songs.

If you have a piece of Art Music, classical, romantic etc. you will find you have to do the chordal analysis yourself. Do it methodically, slowly go through the sheet music and identify what keys and chord progressions you are looking at.

Make sure you identify...

Cadences - Musical full stops and commas
Modulations - When we move to a different key.
Dissonance - When the chord produces a "Clash" of notes. Harmonic Features Added by the composer to create interest...

Drone - One or more notes held throughout a piece or section of music - usually very high or very low

Pedal Point - A held repeated note, usually in the bass

Suspension/Resolution - A note in one chord is held on into the next chord, where it doesn't belong. This is usually resolved with the completion of the second chord. A feature of Counterpoint. Motif - A little fragment of music that is repeated, often at different pitches or in different instruments - think Beethoven's 5th "Duh duh duh duuuuuuuuuh" Sequence - A fragment again, that is IMMEDIATELY repeated at a different pitch. Repetition - In it's most basic form, is simply a repeated section, exactly how it was heard the first time, a very common way to tie a melody line together.
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