Textures- monphony, polyphony, heterophony. homophony etc.

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  • Created by: Hanna
  • Created on: 10-05-08 23:46


  • Has only one melodic line
  • No harmony or counterpoint
  • May be a rhythmic accompaniment, but only one line has specific pitches
  • Can also be referred to as 'monophony'

Examples include:

  • one person whistling a tune
  • a group of people all sing a song together without harmonies or instruments



A Bach unaccompanied cello suite

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  • Has one clearly melodic line; its the one that draws your attention
  • All other parts provide the accompaniment or fill in the chords
  • People who are describing homophonic music may mention chords, accompaniment and harmony/harmonies
  • In most well-written homophonic music the parts that are not melody will still have a lot of melodic interest
  • May follow many of the rules of well-written counterpoint
  • Can sound different to the melody line but are interesting to listen to by themselves
  • When they are played or sung with the melody it is clear that they are not independent parts
  • This may be because they have the same rhythm as the melody (they are not independent)
  • Or because their main purpose is to accompany or fill the chords (they are not really melodies)
  • Also called Homophony
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  • If more than one independent melody is occurring at the same time the music is polyphonic
  • Also called polyphony, counterpoint or contrapuntal music


  • Rounds, canons and fugues are all polyphonic
  • A lot of baroque work is contrapuntal, particularly Bach
  • music for large instrumental groups such as band or orchestras is contrapuntal at least some of the time
  • Music that is mostly monophonic can become polyphonic for a time if an independent counter melody is added


Pachelbel's Canon

Anything titled "fugue" or "invention"

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  • Rare in western music
  • Only one melody but different variations of it are being played or sung at the same time
  • Also called heterophony


  • Can be heard in the bluegrass 'mountain music', Cajun and Zydeco traditions
  • Tune played by two instruments at the same time with each adding embellishments, ornaments and flourishes that are characteristic of the instrument
  • some middle eastern, south Asian, central Europe, and native American music also use heterophony


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Homophonic examples:


  • Choral music in which the parts have mostly the same rhythm
  • A singer accompanied by a guitar picking or strumming rhythms
  • a small jazz with a bass, a piano and a drum set providing the 'rhythm' background for an improvisation on the trumpet
  • a single bagpipes or accordion player playing a melody with drones or chords


A classic Scott Joplin rag such as "Maple Leaf Rag" or "The Entertainer"

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