Polyfoonstructure, also calledpolyphony, is the least popular of the three main official textures. The other two types have a better monophonic and homophonic texture. Polyphony is usually associated with baroque and renaissance music, as well as the music of the composer Johann Sebastian Bach.
In this post, we will fully explore polyphonic texture, but before we do, let's remember what texture in music is.
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What is texture?
Textura-musicalit's how we describe the overall quality or sound of a piece of music.
It is often characterized by the number of layers of melody and harmony that can be heard at the same time.
Some things that can change the musical texture include the tempo, the type and number of instruments played, the genre and style, and the structure of the harmonies.
Let's delve into the less common and more complex type, the polyphonic texture.
Polyphonic texture definition
Polyphonic texture, is when several independent melodies are played or sung at the same time.
The term polyphonic comes from the Greek wordserg, meaning "many" or "many" andvocal, which means "sound" or "voice".
Because the other two main types of texture,homophonejmonoauraaltexture, treats a single melodic line at a time, polyphony is considered more complex and compact.
This is often the case, as we shall see, because polyphonic texture is usually just when a piece of music with a monophonic or homophonic texture adds a second, unrelated melody. However, some nursery rhymes are polyphonic and very simple and easy to sing or play.
There are many different styles of music that are considered polyphonic. In this article we will considerguns,Edition,Dixielandiajazz yheterophonetexture, subtype polyphony.
In music, aruleris when we play or sing a melody and then, after a certain amount of time, play the same melody (or an imitation of it) again one or more times.
The simplest rule form is aredo, which is a rule where every melody is musically identical. Many nursery rhymes can be sung as a cycle, such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" or "Frere Jacques."
In the round version of these songs, only one person sings at the beginning and each person arrives after a certain amount of time.
This excerpt from "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" is a perfect example of a round of five people, each starting four counts after the previous person:
However, cannons can also have imitative (follower) melodies that are not musically identical to the original (leader) melody.
For example, in this piece by Konrad Kunz, "Canon No. 114," the left and right hands of the piano play a canon, but each hand's melody begins on a different note:
Perhaps the most famous canon in music is Pachelbel's "Canon in D," a very popular piece that you've probably heard played at weddings.
While the cello and harpsichord are not in canonical form, the three violin parts are. The melody begins with Violin I, with Violin II starting the melody two bars later and the violin joining in two bars later.
Try to follow all three melodies at the same time, it gets difficult when they all play really fast!
Alekit is an example of polyphonic texture because, as a rule, it introduces a melodic theme and imitates that theme in a piece.
A fugue differs from a canon in two ways.
The first is that the repetitions of the main melody don't have to stay the same in a fugue, each imitation can change the notes or rhythms of the previous one, and they don't have to copy the melody at any point.
The other difference is that a fugue usually has much more structure: it has several sections and is longer than a canon. Fugues became popular in the early 18th century and are considered one of the defining musical styles of Baroque music.
Johann Sebastian Bach is the most popular composer of fugue music. An example he wrote is 'Fuga No. 17 in A flat major':
In this piece, the right hand begins a one-bar melody, usually moving from lower to higher notes, and contains two sixteenth notes (eighth notes) followed by four eighth notes (eighth notes).
This is done twice with the right hand, then three times with the left hand, then alternating between right and left for a few bars. This theme is repeated throughout the piece and harmonies are built around it.
Dixielandia Jazzis a style of jazz music that emerged in New Orleans in the 1910s and 1920s. It is also known aswarmjazz, otraditionaljazz.
A typical lineup of a Dixieland band would consist of a trumpet, clarinet and trombone as the lead horn section, along with a rhythm section of bass, piano, guitar/banjo and drums or sometimes a keyboard.
What makes Dixieland Jazz an example of polyphony is that the trumpet, clarinet, and trombone all tend to play different, unrelated melodies in one song.
The trumpet used to play the main melody, while the clarinet played a much faster and more complex melody, with dots up and down.
The trombone played a slower, simpler tune in the background of the other two. Often these three melodiesimprovised, which means they are manufactured on site.
A famous example of Dixieland Jazz is the 1923 piece "Dippermouth Blues" by King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band.
In music,heterophoneTexture is a sub-type of polyphony and occurs when there are two or more variations of a single melody line.
While this sounds like a round or a line, it's different because the two versions of the tune are sung or played at the same time.
Imagine two people singing the same melody together, but one adds extra grace notes and variations; this would fall under the heterophonic texture.
This type of texture is most common in non-western music, such as traditional Turkish, Arabic, Japanese, or Thai music.
In all these cultures it is traditional for several singers or instrumentalists to play the same melody, but each musician adds his own personal touch.
It is rare to find this in Western music, and especially in classical music, but an example is found here in Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor".
In the section beginning in bar 211, bars 212-214 have the piano and violins playing the same melody, but the piano melody has several embellishments added in sixteenth notes, and the violins just play crotchets (quarter notes).
Summary of polyphony
PolyfoonThe texture is the only one of the three main types of texture that allows more than one tune to play at the same time.
As the name suggests, there are many musical ideas that draw your attention in different directions. Because of this, polyphony can often sound confusing or difficult to follow.
Music that is monophonic or homophonic can become polyphonic if a second melody is added, such as when a singer improvises at the end of a song while backing singers sing the main melody.
There are many different styles of music that have a polyphonic texture. Some of them are therulerHeredo, its baroque stylelekMUSIC,Dixielandia Jazzand not Westernheterofonie.
We hope this article helped you learn more about polyphonic texture!
Polyphony is a musical texture consisting of two or more simultaneous melodic lines. The earliest polyphonic music was created simply by having musicians play or sing two different songs simultaneously. Polyphony was developed during the late Middle Ages and became the dominant musical texture during the Renaissance.What is polyphonic texture quizlet? ›
Polyphonic texture (polyphony or counterpoint) involves multiple melodic voices, all of equal importance, occurring simultaneously. This complex, dense texture is typical of Renaissance and baroque music.Which is an example of polyphonic texture? ›
A fugue is an example of polyphonic texture because, like a canon, it introduces a melodic theme and imitates that theme throughout a piece.What is texture in music your answer? ›
Texture in music refers to the effect of the different layers of sound in a piece of music, and the relationship between them. Layers of sound are the different things which are happening at the same time in a piece of music. There could be a guitar playing, a voice singing, drums playing and a piano too.How do you identify polyphonic texture? ›
If more than one independent melody is occurring at the same time, the music is polyphonic.What is polyphonic texture also known as? ›
Texture - polyphony
Polyphonic music has parts that weave in and out of each other. Polyphonic music is also sometimes called contrapuntal music.
polyphony, in music, the simultaneous combination of two or more tones or melodic lines (the term derives from the Greek word for “many sounds”). Thus, even a single interval made up of two simultaneous tones or a chord of three simultaneous tones is rudimentarily polyphonic.What is polyphonic vs monophonic texture? ›
Monophonic texture includes only a single melody line. If more than one musician plays the same melody together, this is called playing in unison. Polyphonic texture consists of two or more independent melody lines: Homophonic texture consist of a primary melody line with accompaniment.Why use polyphonic texture? ›
Polyphonic music has a unique texture and quality you don't find in homophonic music. With its multiple melodies, voices, and rhythms, polyphonic music creates stunning harmonies when done with expertise. If the melodies don't work together, it won't work.
Polyphony is usually divided into two main types: imitative and non-imitative. Either the various melodic lines in a polyphonic passage may sound similar to one another, or they may be completely independent in their rhythm and contour.What is an example of a polyphonic instrument? ›
Almost all classical keyboard instruments are polyphonic. Examples include the piano, harpsichord, organ and clavichord. These instruments feature a complete sound-generating mechanism for each key in the keybed (e.g., a piano has a string and hammer for every key, and an organ has at least one pipe for each key.)What were the first examples of polyphonic music? ›
The inscription is believed to date back to the start of the 10th century and is the setting of a short chant dedicated to Boniface, patron Saint of Germany. It is the earliest practical example of a piece of polyphonic music – the term given to music that combines more than one independent melody – ever discovered.What is the best definition of a musical texture? ›
Musical texture is the density of and interaction between a work's different voices. Monophony is characterized by an unaccompanied melodic line. Heterophony is characterized by multiple variants of a single melodic line heard simultaneously.Does a polyphonic texture has a single melodic line? ›
A polyphonic texture has a single melodic line. False. A homorhythmic texture is one in which all of the lines move in the same rhythm.What are the 4 types of texture? ›
Traditionally, there are 4 types of texture in art: visual, tactile, actual, and implied. Each type of texture can create a different effect on the viewer. Visual texture is the surface look of the work.What is an example of polyphony on a piano? ›
For example, if you play five notes with just the piano voice, that's five-note polyphony. However, if you select both piano AND strings, that five notes now becomes ten notes.What period is polyphonic music? ›
The Polyphonic era is a term used since the mid-19th century to designate an historical period in which harmony in music is subordinate to polyphony. It generally refers to the period from the 13th to the 16th century.What is the difference between harmony and polyphony? ›
As the etymology indicates, polyphony refers to music in which more than one entity—voice or instrument—plays melodic lines at the same time. This differs from harmony in the way that harmony is usually dependent on the main melody, whereas polyphonic music has each entity playing their own independent melodic lines.What does polyphonic mean easy? ›
having two or more voices or parts, each with an independent melody, but all harmonizing; contrapuntal (opposed to homophonic).
polyphony. noun. po·lyph·o·ny pə-ˈlif-ə-nē : music consisting of two or more independent but harmonious melodies.
Since poly- means "many", polyphonic music has "many voices". In polyphony, each part has its own melody, and they weave together in a web that may become very dense; a famous piece by Thomas Tallis, composed around 1570, has 40 separate voice parts.What is the difference between monophonic and polyphonic stretch? ›
Choose from the following: Monophonic is best for solo musical instruments or dialogue. Polyphonic is best for music with multiple instruments or complex ambient sounds. Varispeed changes pitch in addition to duration, similar to slowing down or speeding up analog tape machines.How do you identify texture in music? ›
The texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width, between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices (see Common types below).Is Gregorian chant polyphonic texture? ›
Gregorian chant is a monophonic style of music, meaning there is only one melodic line. With the absence of polyphonic harmonies, all singers follow the single melody in unison.What are the features of polyphony? ›
Polyphony (/pəˈlɪfəni/ puh-LIH-fuh-nee) is a type of musical texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, homophony.What are the benefits of polyphonic music? ›
Polyphonic music combines multiple auditory streams to create complex auditory scenes, thus providing a tool for investigating the neural mechanisms that orient attention in natural auditory contexts.Is classical music polyphonic? ›
Compared to the Baroque period, Classical music generally has a lighter, clearer texture, and is less complex. Baroque music is often polyphonic, while Classical is mainly homophonic.What is another name for polyphony? ›
Renaissance music was mostly polyphonic in texture. Comprehending a wide range of emotions, Renaissance music nevertheless portrayed all emotions in a bal- anced and moderate fashion.
The guitar is a polyphonic instrument. This means that it is capable of playing more than one tone at a time, which means that it can be used to play harmonies. The only other popular instrument that excels at this is the piano.How was polyphonic music created? ›
During the early Renaissance, musicians started to experiment with singing different musical lines at the same time. You might even say that boredom was the catalyst for polyphony! The earliest forms of polyphony are the singing of Gregorian melodies homophonically — two lines sung at an interval of perfect 4th or 5th.Who made polyphonic music? ›
Pérotin, Latin Perotinus, (died 1238?, Paris?, France), French composer of sacred polyphonic music, who is believed to have introduced the composition of polyphony in four parts into Western music.What is the difference between homophony and polyphony? ›
Homophony is characterized by multiple voices harmonically moving together at the same pace. Polyphony is characterized by multiple voices with separate melodic lines and rhythms. Most music does not conform to a single texture; rather, it can move between them.What are the three musical texture and their meaning in a short definition? ›
Below is a list of the music terms and definitions for texture. Monophonic – a single, unaccompanied melodic line. Homophonic – melody with accompaniment. Polyphonic – more than one melody performed at the same time. Heterophonic – two melodies that follow each other, but with more ornamentation in the main melody.What are the three textures of music explain? ›
Texture in music has to do with the layers in a musical composition. The three most basic types of music considered in this lesson are monophony, polyphony, and homophony. Music was originally written in monophonic texture: that is, there was only one melodic line, devoid of harmony or accompaniment.What is polyphonic texture and blending of different melodic lines? ›
Polyphonic texture or contrapuntal texture is what you get when independent melody lines combine to form music. Music in polyphonic texture may be vocal, instrumental, or a mix of both; however, the important point to remember is that in polyphonic music, the horizontal aspect of the melodies is stressed.Is a round polyphonic? ›
round, in music, a polyphonic vocal composition in which three or four voices follow each other around in a perpetual canon at the unison or octave.What are the three 3 basic textures? ›
There are three categories of texture: tactile, visual, and audible. Tactile texture is the feel of a material to human touch. Visual texture affects how an object or room looks, and audible texture affects how the object or room sounds.What are the 2 main types of texture? ›
Textures might be divided into two categories, namely, tactile and visual textures.
When making a work of visual art, you should consider the two types of texture, known as physical (or actual) texture and visual (or implied) texture.What is homophonic vs polyphonic texture? ›
Homophony is characterized by multiple voices harmonically moving together at the same pace. Polyphony is characterized by multiple voices with separate melodic lines and rhythms. Most music does not conform to a single texture; rather, it can move between them.What is the difference between monophonic and polyphonic textures? ›
Monophonic texture includes only a single melody line. If more than one musician plays the same melody together, this is called playing in unison. Polyphonic texture consists of two or more independent melody lines: Homophonic texture consist of a primary melody line with accompaniment.What is the difference between monophonic and polyphonic? ›
From the Greek, mono means one; poly means many. Phony means voice. So, polyphony is many voices, while monophony is just one voice. A choir or a soloist.What does homophonic vs polyphonic mean? ›
The 'same sound' of homophonic music lies in the harmony where the notes of the melody and accompaniment will emerge from chords. A polyphonic texture has 'many sounds'; independent melodies that weave together while observing the rules of harmony.What is the meaning of polyphonic? ›
polyphony, in music, the simultaneous combination of two or more tones or melodic lines (the term derives from the Greek word for “many sounds”). Thus, even a single interval made up of two simultaneous tones or a chord of three simultaneous tones is rudimentarily polyphonic.What is a homophonic texture *? ›
Homophony is a musical texture of several parts in which one melody predominates; the other parts may be either simple chords or a more elaborate accompaniment pattern.What is the best example of polyphonic? ›
An example of polyphony would be the song "This Is How We Do It" by Montell Jordan. Another great example of polyphony would be "Ghetto Gospel" by Tupac. Both of these songs have interdependent choruses which align with the hip hop style of each of the artists, illustrating counterpoint.Is all music polyphonic? ›
Generally not. It almost always is based on a single melody line with simple accompanying chords.What instruments are polyphonic? ›
Almost all classical keyboard instruments are polyphonic. Examples include the piano, harpsichord, organ and clavichord. These instruments feature a complete sound-generating mechanism for each key in the keybed (e.g., a piano has a string and hammer for every key, and an organ has at least one pipe for each key.)