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What Are The Three Kinds Of Texture In Music?

by Victoria RoblesNovember 24, 2021

In music, the texture makes up the sound of a song. It can be described as being either thick or thin depending on how many layers there are between the lowest and highest pitches in relative terms. More specifically, texture can be distinguished according to the number of voices (parts) involved. 

For example, A thick texture contains many instruments that share similar sounds, so it's easy for listeners who don't know them well yet still understand most things they play. At the same time, one with fewer parts allows you to hear every note individually without too much trouble.

Different terms can describe the texture of music (thick, thin, bass-heavy, and complex), but there is only one term for each type. The formal descriptions all center around patterns such as melodies or harmonies with no particular accent on any given note in a piece, unlike Dynamics, which talks about volume changes throughout its duration to create an emotional response from listeners. 

Following are the basic three textures that are heard throughout the music industry.

Monophonic

This is when there is only one voice or melodic line being played at once, as opposed to polyphonic, where the voices/melodies would be played simultaneously. Monophonic music is simple and unadorned. Singers or instrumentalists sing melodies with little accompaniment, relying on themselves to provide the necessary harmony for context.

A folk song can be monophonic if one singer performs all of its parts without any additional instruments present under their vocal range. This includes male-female duet songs and solo performances from a single performer playing an instrument. No other musical sounds are heard during playback except those created by fingers striking keys (e.g., piano).

Polyphonic

Polyphony is an important and diverse form of music that has existed since ancient times. It consists of two or more simultaneous melodies, usually contrasting but sometimes similar. This style can also include chords for added complexity.

Polyphonic songs became popular during the Classical period when composers like Monteverdi developed such techniques. Polyphony dates back centuries before monophony or homophony were even thought about. Mozart's Requiem employs polyphonic textures throughout its original melody.

Homophonic

Homophony is a texture in which one melody predominates while other parts play either single notes or an elaborate accompaniment. The differentiation between roles contrasts with equal voice polyphony and monophony. Such music has only one part per layer for each note being played at once to create harmony.

To learn more about texture in music and its kinds, visit our blog section.

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