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Musical elements

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  • 1. The melody is the tune, and consists of a single succession of notes ordered in a particular way. In popular commercial music, the melody is usually hummable … meaning that it is relatively easy to recognize, and remember.
  • 2. Harmony
  • 3. Rhythm The rhythm is the pulse. Musicians consider the heartbeat as the oldest rhythmic pulse. Many people refer to the rhythm as ‘the beat’. There is movement in everything, particularly in living things. Some instruments, i.e. drums, are highly effective in establishing rhythms in music. Drums are common to every culture in some variation.
  • 4. Tempo Tempo refers to the rate of speed … how quickly or how slowly the music is played. The tempo indications, or ‘markings’ must appear on the written page, (manuscript or score). Imagine how important this information is for dancers.
  • 5. Dynamics In music, the term ‘dynamics’ is used to communicate volume … how loudly or softly should the musician play the notes. Some of the symbols used to indicate the process of getting louder or softer, originated as mathematical symbols. = crescendo, gradually getting louder = decrescendo, gradually getting softer
  • 6. Timbre The timbre of an instrument refers to the quality of it’s sound … what distinguishes it from other musical instruments by sound. In music, the timbre is the color of the music. A flute has a different and softer timbre than a saxophone, though they are both members of the wind family of instruments. (pronounced T mə -ber)
  • 7. Texture in Music . . . . . . can be perceived as levels of density, detectable aurally by the listener. This density is most easily understood through the number of melodies playing at one time. Texture in music is associated with complexity of construction. A composition for solo instrument has a different (i.e. thinner) texture than one for a band.
  • 8. Monophony (noun) Monophonic (adj.) Monophony (noun) Monophonic (adj.) Polyphony (noun) Polyphonic (adj.)  Two or more musical lines moving together in a harmonic relationship. One of those lines is usually dominant as melody.  Several independent melodic lines moving at the same time.