Texture(monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic, imitation, counterpoint)

Texture refers to the number of individual musical lines (melodies) and the relationship these lines have to one another. NOTE: Be careful not to confuse the number of musical lines with the number of performers producing the musical lines.

Monophonic (single-note) texture: Music with only one note sounding at a time (having no harmony or accompaniment).

Homophonic texture: Music with two or more notes sounding at a the same time, but generally featuring a prominent melody in the upper part, supported by a less intricate harmonic accompaniment underneath (often based on homogenous chords—BLOCKS of sound).

Polyphonic texture: Music with two or more independent melodies sounding at the same time. The most intricate types of polyphonic texture— canon and fugue—may introduce three, four, five or more independent melodies simultaneously! This manner of writing is called COUNTERPOINT.

Imitative texture: Imitation is a special type of polyphonic texture produced whenever a musical idea is ECHOED from “voice” to “voice”. Although imitation can be used in monophonic styles, it is more prevalent in polyphonic art-music— especially from the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Antiphonal texture: Antiphonal texture is created when two or more groups of performers alternate back and forth, and then play together. In Rock-and-roll, this texture is heard particularly in various types of Soul, Funk and Rap music.

Collage: juxtaposition & superimposition of extremely different textures or sounds.

Other Considerations:

  • What is the meaning of the text?
  • How does the music relate to the text being sung?
  • How is the text handled in the music?

Syllabic: each syllable of text is given only one note.

Melismatic: three or more notes per syllable of text.

Vibrato (an ornament): Rapid “shaking” of a pitch—often used by vocalists, guitarists, and synthesizer players to add interest to long-held notes.

Tremolo: The most common type of tremolo in rock music is achieved when a guitar player rapidly alternates the pick back and forth on a string.

Trill (an ornament): rapid alternation of a two nearby pitches. Trills are commonly used by rock guitarists, keyboardists and brass players.


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