All About Music

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Elements of Music
 
Pitch – register (high or low); Organization of pitches with a pattern of intervals between them creates scales; Words we might use to describe scales: major/minor, chromatic, gapped, and pentatonic.  

Rhythm – the time element of music. A specific rhythm is a specific pattern in time; we usually hear these in relation to a steady pulse, and mentally organize this pulse or tempo into meter (sometimes called a "time signature"). Meter organizes beats into groups, usually of two or three; beats can be divided into small units usually 2, 3 or 4 subdivisions  

Melody, or musical line, is a combination of pitch and rhythm (some say "duration"). Sometimes a melody is considered to be the theme of a composition. We might characterize melody by its contour (rising or falling) and the size of the intervals in it. A melody that uses mostly small intervals (or scale steps) and is smooth is said to be a conjunct melody. Not surprisingly, a melody that uses large intervals is called a disjunct melody. A motif (or motive) is either a very short melody or a distinctive part of a longer melody. I might describe the opening four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as a "motific cell."  

Timbre – sound quality or tone color; timbre is the characteristic that allows us to distinguish between one instrument and another, and the difference between vowel sounds (for example, long "a" or "ee"). Terms we might use to describe timbre: bright, dark, brassy, reedy, harsh, noisy, thin, buzzy, pure, raspy, shrill, mellow, strained. I prefer to avoid describing timbre in emotional terms (excited, angry, happy, sad, etc.); that is not the sound quality, it is its effect or interpretation. Rather than describe the timbre of an instrument in other terms, it is often more clear just to describe the timbre by naming the instrument, once we have learned the names and sounds of a few instruments.  

Dynamics – loud or soft. A composition that has extremely soft passages as well as extremely loud passages is said to have a large or wide dynamic range. Dynamics can change suddenly or gradually (crescendo, getting louder, or decrescendo, getting softer.)  

Texture – monophonic (one voice or line),
polyphonic (many voices, usually similar, as in Renaissance or Baroque counterpoint), homophonic (1. a melody with simple accompaniment; 2. chords moving in the same rhythm (homorhythmic)) heterophony – “mixed” or multiple similar versions of a melody performed simultaneously (rare in European music; possibly used in Ancient Greece) collage – juxtaposition & superimposition of extremely different textures or sounds

Musical instrument

A musical instrument is a device created or adapted for the purpose of making musical sounds. In principle, any object that produces sound can serve as a musical instrument—it is through purpose that the object becomes a musical instrument. The history of musical instruments dates back to the beginnings of human culture. The purpose of early musical instruments was ritual: a hunter might use a trumpet to signal success on the hunt, or a shaman might use a drum in a religious ceremony. Cultures later developed the processes of composing and performing melodies for entertainment. Musical instruments evolved in step with changing applications. The date and origin of the first device considered a musical instrument is disputed. The oldest object that some scholars refer to as a musical instrument, a simple flute, dates back as far as 67,000 years. Solid consensus begins to form about early flutes dating to about 37,000 years old. However, most historians believe that determining a specific time of musical instrument invention is impossible due to the subjectivity of the definition and the relative instability of materials that were used in their construction. Many early musical instruments were made from animal skins, bone, wood, and other non-durable materials. Musical instruments...
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