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Section 15.1 The Elements of Music

Creating contrast usually involves varying one or more of the “Elements of Music,” which are listed and explained below.

Melody

We all know what melody is, but don’t confuse melody with ostinato! Melody lives and breathes and has variety.

Harmony

In this section, we will associate harmony with key and mode (major versus minor).

Rhythm

What the most common rhythmic value is in a section.

Timbre

The different tone colors of different instruments, and the different tone colors an individual instrument can produce.

Texture

Described in the previous chapter as existing in the vertical plane (the number of voices) and the horizontal plane (rhythmic activity of the various voices).

Articulation

Staccato versus legato, or short, clipped notes versus long, sustained or connected notes.

Dynamics

Loud versus soft.

Register

High versus middle versus low.

Table 15.1.1 The “Elements of Music”

In the next two sections we will look at how two different pieces exhibit contrast between various sections using the elements of music.