In music, structure is exactly how the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are merged in a composition, thus determining the as whole quality the the sound in a piece. Texture is often explained in regard come the density, or thickness, and range, or width, in between lowest and also highest pitches, in loved one terms as well as an ext specifically distinguished according come the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices. Because that example, a thick texture consists of many “layers” that instruments.

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In music terms, particularly in the fields of music background and music analysis, some usual terms for different species of texture are:


We will emphasis on monophony, polyphony, and homophony in this course.

Formal Terms

There are plenty of informal terms the can describe the texture of a item of music (thick, thin, bass-heavy, rhythmically complex, and also so on), yet the official terms that are provided to describe texture all explain the relationships of melodies and harmonies. Below are definitions and examples that the 4 main types of texture. For details pieces of music the are good examples of each kind of texture, please check out below.


Monophonic music has only one melodic line, v no harmony or counterpoint. There may be rhythmic accompaniment, but only one line that has particular pitches. Monophonic music can also be called monophony. That is sometimes dubbed monody, although the hatchet “monody” can also refer to a particular type of solo song (with critical accompaniment) that was really popular in the 1600s.Examples that Monophony

One human whistling a tuneA single bugle sounding “Taps”A team of civilization all to sing a song together, without harmonies or instrumentsA fife and also drum corp, v all the fifes play the very same melody

Listen: Monophony

Listen for the cello performing a single melody in Bach’s Cello Suites.

Listen come the monophony in “Llibre Vermell de Montserrat : Advocatam innocemus” by Namur chamber Choir.


Homophonic music can also be called homophony. Explicate homophonic music you may hear such terms as chords, accompaniment, harmony or harmonies. Homophony has actually one plainly melodic line; it’s the line that normally draws her attention. All other parts provide accompaniment or fill in the chords. In most well-written homophony, the parts that are not melody may still have actually a many melodic interest. They might follow plenty of of the rule of well-written counterpoint, and they can sound quite different from the melody and also be amazing to listen to by themselves. However when they space sung or played through the melody, that is clear the they are not elevation melodic parts, either due to the fact that they have the exact same rhythm as the melody (i.e. Are not independent) or since their main purpose is to fill in the chords or harmony (i.e. They room not yes, really melodies).

Examples of Homophony

Choral music in i beg your pardon the parts have mostly the same rhythms in ~ the very same time is homophonic. Most traditional Protestant hymns and also most “barbershop quartet” music is in this category.A singer accompanied by a guitar picking or strumming chords.A tiny jazz combo v a bass, a piano, and also a drum collection providing the “rhythm” background for a trumpet improvising a solo.A solitary bagpipes or accordion player play a melody through drones or chords.

Listen: Homophony

In Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21, Andante (“Elvira Madigan”), hear for one elevation melodic line accompanied by various other voices or instruments.


Polyphonic music can likewise be dubbed polyphony, counterpoint, or contrapuntal music. If much more than one elevation melody is occurring at the same time, the music is polyphonic.

Examples that Polyphony

Rounds, canons, and also fugues space all polyphonic. (Even if there is just one melody, if different human being are singing or playing it at different times, the components sound independent.)Much Baroque music is contrapuntal, an especially the functions of J.S. Bach.Most music for big instrumental teams such together bands or orchestras is contrapuntal at least some that the time.Music that is largely homophonic can become temporarily polyphonic if an live independence countermelody is added. Think that a favorite pop or gospel tune that, near the end, has the soloist “ad libbing” when the back-up singers repeat the refrain.

Listen: Polyphony

Bach’s Fugue in D significant is a an excellent example of polyphony, hear for four voices occurring in ~ the very same time. Each voice is an imitation of the other, start the item with the very same melody.


A heterophonic texture is rarely in west music. In heterophony, there is only one melody, however different sports of it are being sung or played at the very same time.

Heterophony deserve to be heard in the Bluegrass, “mountain music”, Cajun, and also Zydeco traditions. Listen for the tune to be played by two instruments (say fiddle and also banjo) at the very same time, through each including the embellishments, ornaments, and flourishes that space characteristic of the instrument.Some middle Eastern, south Asian, main Eurasian, and Native American music traditions incorporate heterophony. Listen for traditional music (most modern-composed music, also from this cultures, has tiny or no heterophony) in which singers and/or instrumentalists carry out the very same melody in ~ the same time, however give it various embellishments or ornaments.

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Listen: identify the Texture

Determine the structure (monophonic, homophonic, or polyphonic) in each piece of music:

G. B. Pergolesi, Stabat Mater in F minor, i ordered it by J. S. Bach on the text of Psalm 51: “Tilge, Höchster, meine Sünden,” BWV 1083, c. 1746.