Uploaded by Stuart Pennington

The Basic Elements of Music

The Basic Elements of Music:
Performance and Arrangement:
Rhythm - It may be defined as the pattern or placement of sounds in time and beats
in music. Roger Kamien in his book Music: An Appreciation defines rhythm as "the
particular arrangement of note lengths in a piece of music." Rhythm is shaped by
meter; it has certain elements such as beat and tempo.
Tempo - The Italian word at the beginning of a music piece that indicates how slow
or fast the piece should be played. This is called the tempo which is effective
throughout the duration of the music unless the composer indicates otherwise.
Texture - Musical texture refers to the number of layers as well as the type of layers
used in a composition and how these layers are related. Texture may be
monophonic (single melodic line), polyphonic (two or more melodic lines) and
homophonic (a main melody accompanied by chords).
Pitch - The relative lowness or highness that we hear in a sound. The pitch of a
sound is based on the frequency of vibration and the size of the vibrating object. The
slower the vibration and the bigger the vibrating object, the lower the pitch; the faster
the vibration and the smaller the vibrating object, the higher the pitch. For example,
the pitch of a double bass is lower than that of the violin because the double bass
has longer strings. Pitch may be definite (i.e. piano) or indefinite (i.e. cymbals).
Key/Tonality - Also known as tonality; a principle in music composition wherein at
the end of the piece there is a feeling of completion by going back to the tonic. The
tonic (main key or home key) is the principal pitch of a composition. Simply put, key
refers to the central note (i.e. key of C), scale (i.e. C scale) and chord (i.e. C Major
Dynamics - Dynamics are abbreviations or symbols used to signify the degree of
loudness or softness of a piece of music. It also indicates whether there is a change
in volume.
Structure/Form – How the song is put together