Pitch • Pitch can be described as being how high or low the sound is heard. • Pitch is determined by the speed or frequency of the vibration which is causing the sound to occur. • Fast vibrations produce high pitches, and slow vibrations produce low pitches. • Musicians use a staff with various clefs to notate pitch.
Melody • A melody is a succession of single pitches. • The brain remembers the pitches not as individual notes, but rather as a complete melody or tune.
Harmony • Harmony consists of two or more different pitches sounding at the same time. • Harmony adds depth or support to a melody. • A melody can sound completely different if the harmony beneath it changes.
Rhythm • Rhythm is the Greek word for flow. • Rhythm is the duration or length of the pitch. • We use whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, etc. to denote the duration of a pitch.
Beat • Beat is the steady pulse, like a heartbeat, heard and felt in most music. • Dance music especially depends on a steady beat.
Tempo • Tempo is the speed of the beat. • Composers use Italian terms, such as Allegro, Andante and Largo to give a general sense of the tempo. • The metronome is used to give specific tempos. • The units used for tempo are beats per minute.
Metre • Metre is the grouping of rhythms into strong and weak beats. • The metre is designated by the Time Signature. • The Time Signature describes the number of beats in every measure, and the value of one beat.
Dynamics • Dynamics describe how loud the music is to be performed. • The dynamics are described by the Italian words forte, piano and their variations (ff, mf, mp, pp, etc.)
Articulation • Articulation describes whether the pitches of the melody are joined together and are smooth, or are separated by tonguing.
Texture • Texture describes the number of different lines of music. • A thin texture would have very few lines, and a thick texture would have many. • One line only is called unision or monophonic. • A hymn tune or chorale is considered to be homophonic, where the melody is in the top line or soprano part, and the others play supporting harmonies. All move with the same rhythm. • In polyphonic music, each line is equally important melodically, and usually imitate each other. Examples of polyphonic texture are rounds, canons and fugues.
Form • Form is the structure or skeleton a piece of music. • The form of a piece may be very simple, like a canon, or complex, like a symphony.
Timbre • The timbre of an instrument is its quality of sound. • We can tell whether a trumpet or clarinet is playing by its timbre. • Timbre is determined by the shape of the instrument, its material, and the way that the vibration is generated (such as reed, lips or string).