This essential guide will explain what is texture in music, the different types of texture, and explain each texture in detail and why they are crucial.
What Is Texture In Music?
The texture in music is how the tempo, melody, and harmonies are combined in a composition, determining the overall quality of sound in a piece of music. It describes the complexity and amount of layers a piece of music has. For example, a thick texture can contain many layers of instruments.
What this post covers:
- What is Texture in Music
- Examples of Texture In Music
- Types of Textures
- What is Homophonic Texture
- What is Polyphonic Texture
- What is Monophonic Texture
- What is Heterophonic Texture
- Homophonic vs. Polyphonic
What is Texture in Music?
Musical texture is basically the element of music that analyzes musical layers. It is actually the way to describe how a piece of music or sound is organized.
The texture of a piece can change because of the following factors:
- The amount of parts playing simultaneously
- The timbre of the instruments or voices playing these parts
- The Harmony used
- The Tempo used
- The Rhythm used
Just like any physical thing has texture, so does the music has. However, since music can’t be touched and so its texture is actually characterized by sound.
The thickness of a texture can change by the amount and the richness of the instruments playing the piece of music. And the thickness generally varies from light to thick.
Songs use a variety of textures to keep the piece of music interesting.
What Are Examples of Texture In Music?
A texture in a piece of music can be described in a lot of different ways.
1. Thick Texture
A piece of music is said to have a thick texture if there are many layers of instruments or if a lot of melodies or harmonies are being played at the same time.
2. Thin Texture
A piece of music is said to have a thin texture if there are only a few instruments being played or if one or two melodies and harmonies are being played.
3. Open Texture
A music piece can be said to have an open texture (or a wide or spacious texture) if there’s a large gap between the highest and lowest notes of the piece of music.
4. Closed Texture
A piece of music has a closed texture (or a tight texture) if all the singers or instruments are playing the notes that are close together.
What Are the Different Types of Textures?
Following are some of the different types of textures in music:
Let’s see one by one about each of these different types of textures in music.
What is Homophonic Texture?
In simple words, when a melody is supported by harmony, then the texture is homophonic. Breaking down the word into two parts:
- Ho mo = Same or Similar
- Phonic = Sound
So in this type of texture, you can find multiple different notes playing, but they are all based around the same melody.
In the music that uses the homophonic texture, one layer grabs your attention while the other remains in the background.
So out of the multiple voices in a piece of music having the homophonic texture, the melody generally stands out prominently, and the others form a background of the harmonic accompaniment.
It is noteworthy that if all the parts have much the same rhythm, then the homophonic texture can also be described as homorhythmic.
In Western music, homophony is the most common texture. Some of the examples of the song that use the homophonic texture are “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran or Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor“.
What is Polyphonic Texture?
If a piece of music has multiple independent layers happening at the same time, then it is called polyphony. If we break down the word polyphonic in two parts, then it would be like this:
- Poly = Many
- Phonic = Sound
Polyphony occurs when there are two totally separate melodies occurring simultaneously. You can think of it as basically two or more parts doing their own thing. The polyphonic texture can also occur if you take the same melody but start it staggered intervals.
Some of the songs where polyphonic texture can be found are the “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Frère Jaques”.
What is Monophonic Texture?
The monophonic is the most basic type of texture. Actually, if we break down the word Monophonic into two parts, then it will be:
- Mono = One
- Phonic = Sound
So a monophonic texture has only one layer, that is, a single melodic line with no accompaniment.
In the case of monophony, it doesn’t matter how many instruments or voices are present as long as they are all singing or playing the same thing at the same time.
It also doesn’t matter that much if the instruments or voices are on the exact same frequency or if they are singing in octaves.
Note that it also doesn’t matter if drums are there or not, as generally, drums are neither melody nor harmony. So drums are generally not considered when determining the type of texture.
Many easy and simple songs that are learned in our childhood days are actually monophonic songs. For example ‘Happy Birthday’ or ‘Alphabet Song’.
What is Heterophonic Texture?
Heterophonic texture occurs when two or more versions of the same melody are happening at the same time. If we break down the word heterophonic, then it will be like this:
- Hetero = Different
- Phonic = Sound
Heterophony is a type of texture that is characterized by the simultaneous variation of the single melody line.
The heterophonic texture is relatively rare in western music and is generally common in non-western music.
Homophonic vs. Polyphonic
A homophonic texture is a composition that has the melody along with the accompaniment.
At the same time, polyphonic texture refers to the piece of music which has a mix of melodies that are each separate and independent but still in harmony with the rest.
The homophonic texture is most commonly used in western music. But the polyphonic texture can be found in the children’s canon songs or rounds.
Summary of Texture in Music
In music, texture refers to how tempo, melody, and harmony combine in a composition, determining its overall sound quality. The level of complexity and number of layers is measured by texture. The thicker the texture, the more layers there will be.
We hope you found this information on texture in music helpful.
If we missed anything, please share it in the comments.