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The Elements of Music

CC BY, Elliot Jones Santa Ana College

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THE ELEMENTS OF
MUSIC
The Elements of Music
Melody
Rhythm
Harmony
Texture
Form
MELODY
Melody
A coherent succession of single pitches
Melodies are linear (“a line of music”)
Pitches, or tones, are heard in relation to
each other
Distances between pitches called intervals
Melody is affected by cultural origins
Melodic Structure
Melodies can be divided into phrases
Phrases are independent units within the
larger melodic structure
The end of a phrase is called a cadence
RHYTHM

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The Elements of Music

  • 2. The Elements of Music Melody Rhythm Harmony Texture Form
  • 4. Melody A coherent succession of single pitches Melodies are linear (“a line of music”) Pitches, or tones, are heard in relation to each other Distances between pitches called intervals Melody is affected by cultural origins
  • 5. Melodic Structure Melodies can be divided into phrases Phrases are independent units within the larger melodic structure The end of a phrase is called a cadence
  • 7. Rhythm Rhythm deals with musical movement through time The basic rhythmic pulse of music is the beat Beats can be accented or made stronger than other beats Beats can be grouped into patterns called meters
  • 8. Metrical Patterns Most music is in two, three, or four beat patterns Duple meter Triple meter Quadruple meter In written music these grouped patterns are called measures The first beat in each measure, the downbeat, is the strongest (most accented)
  • 10. Harmony Harmony refers to the simultaneous sounding of pitches or tones Harmony is vertical (“a stack of pitches”) Three or more tones sounding together makes a chord Most common chord in Western music is the triad Triads are based on major and minor scales
  • 11. Scales A scale is a collection of pitches arranged in ascending or descending order Major and minor scales divide the octave into seven pitches in a recognizable pattern An octave is created by two pitches with a 2:1 frequency ratio Triads are built using alternating scale degrees (1-3-5, 2-4-6, 3-5-7, etc.)
  • 12. More Harmonic Terms The first degree (or pitch) of a scale is the tonic and is more important than the others The principle of organizing music around the tonic is called tonality (tonal music) Melodies & harmonies that are limited to the tones of a particular scale are diatonic Melodies & harmonies that are not limited to the tones of a particular scale are chromatic
  • 13. More Harmonic Terms Harmonic progressions built on principle of tension and resolution Dissonance, combinations of tones that sound discordant or unstable, provides tension Consonance, combination of tones that sound agreeable or stable, provides resolution
  • 15. Texture Texture refers to the way in which the melodic and harmonic elements of music are woven together We will deal primarily with four textures: Monophony Polyphony Homorhythm Homophony
  • 16. Monophony Literally means “one voice” Refers to music with one part or one line This is the simplest musical texture
  • 17. Polyphony Literally means “many voices” Refers to music with multiple parts or lines Each line is an independent melody Counterpoint is the system by which these independent lines fit together
  • 18. Homorhythm Literally means “same rhythm” Refers to music with multiple parts or lines that are rhythmically connected Each line moves in the same rhythm – note to note
  • 19. Homophony Literally means “same voice,” though “compatible voice” is better for our purpose Refers to music with a single melodic line to which the rest of the parts are subordinate While polyphonic textures are built on counterpoint, homophonic texture is built on harmony
  • 20. Counterpoint Music based on counterpoint is called contrapuntal from Latin “punctus contra punctus” (point against point) Imitation is a contrapuntal technique that gives unity to a composition In imitation, a melodic idea is presented in one voice and then restated in the other(s) Very strict imitation is called canon
  • 21. FORM
  • 22. Form Form is the structure or design of music Three principles of form Repetition Contrast Variation
  • 23. Three Principles of Form Repetition is the return of musical ideas that we have already heard in a piece of music Contrast is the introduction of new musical ideas into a piece of music The interaction of the familiar and the new stimulates our interest in the music Variation is a kind of repetition in which familiar music returns but with changes
  • 24. Basic Formal Structures To analyze form we divide a piece of music into sections labeled with a letter Binary form (A-B) features two sections that are different (contrast, no repetition) Ternary form (A-B-A) features three sections, the last being same as the first (contrast and repetition)
  • 25. Building Blocks of Form A melodic idea that serves as a foundation for a piece of music is a theme Thematic development is the manipulation, expansion, and exploration of a theme A melodic idea restated several times at different pitch levels forms a sequence The short melodic/rhythmic fragments that make up a theme are called motives
  • 26. Other Formal Elements Call and response music features a soloist who is imitated by a chorus Call and response music is also known as responsorial A short musical pattern that is repeated continually is called an ostinato Separate sections of a larger work are called movements – comparable to chapters