Pitches In Music Definition Essay

The elements of music are the elements (aspects, parts, parameters, elements, variables, constituents) of music which may be considered separately or together, at the moment, and over time. This is related to the definitions of music, as different definitions include or exclude different aspects.


  • There is very little dispute about the principal constituent elements of music, though experts will differ on the precise definitions of each aspect. Most central are 'pitch' (or melody) and 'rhythm'...next in importance only to pitch and rhythm is 'timbre', the characteristic qualities of tone.
    • Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, p.104
  • Just as parameters within a culture are distinguished from one another because they are governed by somewhat different constraints, so it is with the parameters of music: melody, harmony, timbre, etc., are more or less independent variables.
    • Leonard B. Meyer , Style and Music: Theory, History, and Ideology, p.21n44, (1989)
  • Melody, rhythm, timbre, harmony, and the like.
  • Melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, tessitura, timbre, tempo, meter, texture, and perhaps others
    • Eugene Narmour, Explorations in Music, the Arts, and Ideas: Essays in Honor of Leonard B. Meyer, p.326, (1988)
  • Two aspects of each of these parameters should be taken into consideration: the quality of each parameter at any given moment and the way in which each parameter changes as the music progresses
    • Randall McClellan, The Healing Forces of Music: History, Theory, and Practice, p.142, (20-0)
  • Musical research since the late twentieth century has given greater consideration to certain social and embodied aspects of music.
    • Moran, Nikki (2013). "Social Co-Regulation and Communication in North Indian Duo Performances", p.59. In Experience and Meaning in Music Performance, edited by Martin Clayton, Byron Dueck, and Laura Leante, 40–61. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-981131-1; ISBN 978-0-19-981132-8 (ebook).
  • Any element belonging to the total musical fact can be isolated, or taken as a strategic variable of musical production.
    • J Molino, (1975). "Fait musical et sémiologue de la musique", p.43. Musique en Jeu, no. 17:37–62. Cited in Nattiez (1990).
  • Sound is a minimal condition of the musical fact.
    • Jean-Jacques Nattiez, (1990). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music, p.43, translated by Carolyn Abbate
  • Writing of her own Igbo music, the Nigerian musicologist Chinyere Nwachukwu maintains that the 'concept of music nkwa combines singing, playing musical instruments, and dancing into one act'. Whatever concept of 'music' is held by members of western society, it is highly improbable that, apart from forward-looking scholars and composers, it will contain all three elements. Nkwa in fact is not 'music' but a wider affective channel that is closer to the karimojong mode of expression than to western practice. The point of interest here is that Nwachukwu feels constrained to use the erroneous term 'music': not because she is producing a 'musical dissertation,' but because the 'one act' the Igbos perform has no equivalent in the English language. By forcing the Igbo concept into the Procrustean bed of western conceptualization, she is in effect surrendering to the dominance of western ideas—or at least to the dominance of the English language! How different things would have been if the Igbo tongue had attained the same 'universality' as English!.
    • Gourlay, Kenneth (1984). "The Non-Universality of Music and the Universality of Non-Music", p.35. The World of Music 26, no. 2 (1984): 25–39. Cited in Nattiez (1990) and Nattiez (2012)
    • Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (2012). "Is the Search for Universals Incompatible with the Study of Cultural Specificity?", p.78, Humanities and Social Sciences 1, no. 1: 67–94.
    • nwachukwu, C. (1981). Taxonomy of Musical Instruments in Mbaise, Nigeria, p.59. Unpublished M.A. Thesis. The Queen's University of Belfast, 1981.</ref>

External links[edit]

Introduction to music[edit]

What is music? Music is a general melody of sounds that unify the mind and soul. Not even language differences can stop music from reaching out to her selected audience. Even before recorded history, people created music, whether through drumming, singing or chanting. Some of our strongest emotions may be brought on by listening to a piece of music. In this modern age, we hear music around us almost all of our waking hours, in one form or another: radio, television or film music and our personal music (iPods, MP3 players, etc.) is with us throughout the day. Most of us listen to recorded music or go to performances regularly, and some of us play a musical instrument. In earlier time modern audio recording technology, music was available only in the presence of a musician, or to those who played an instrument or sang. Music varies in genres, pop, rock, R'n'B etc.

Musical concepts[edit]

A basic definition of music (in the Western World) is the chronological organisation of sounds; that is, making certain sounds at certain times, which make melodic, rhythmic and harmonic sense.

The first, most basic concept, is keeping the sounds "in time". This leads us to some of the first few musical concepts: beat, rhythm and duration.

  • Beat is the regular pulse which provides a `timeline` for the rhythm to anchor itself to.
  • Rhythm is essentially repeated patterns of long or short, stressed or unstressed sounds or silences which fit into the main beat.
  • Duration is the length of notes or sounds or silences which facilitate the rhythm.

Music is also the relationship between sound and silence. Duration and rhythm apply to silence in the same manner as they apply to sound.

One way to look at how we perceive music is as horizontal and vertical patterns. We hear melodies as a horizontal pattern. The notes (and silences) are heard one after the other over a period of time.

We hear chords (groups of notes played simultaneously) in a vertical pattern. A mixture of one or all of these: melody, rhythm, chords, and silence form musical patterns.


Rhythm is the most basic concept of music. In all cultures worldwide, the most simple and basic forms of music are purely rhythms. A rhythm is a pulse; a repetition of sounds in a pattern. Simple rhythms can be recognized straight away. Tapping rhythmically at a drum constitutes tapping it at timed intervals in a pattern. The most common rhythmic pattern in modern-day Western music is time (say four-four time). This is where four pulses come one after the other, with the first of each four being given emphasis (known as an accent). Try this exercise:

  • Say the words "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four..." etc. continuously, and at even time intervals.
  • Now each time you say "one", say it slightly louder: "one, two, three, four, one, two, three, four..." etc.
  • You have just been saying the words "one", "two", "three" and "four" in time.




In music, pitch is used to describe how high or low a note sounds. Anyone would know the difference between a high-pitched scratching of fingernails across a blackboard, and the low, rumbling growl of thunder. When Maria tells the children in The Sound of Music that "the first few notes just happen to be...do re mi", she was referring to pitch. Using pitch, together with rhythm, we can start to construct melodies. Without rhythm, notes would just be long, sustained sounds. Without pitch, each sound would be the same (for example, the beating of a single drum).


In music, we use the word dynamics to describe how loudly or softly a note is played. Dynamics falls under the wider category of expressive techniques, which are instructions for the performer to play loudly or softly, smoothly or detached, and many other effects.

Timbre (tone colour)[edit]

In music, the "colour" of a sound being produced is referred to as timbre, or tone colour. Timbre is the difference between the harsh, scratchy sound of an electric guitar with distortion; the glassy, rounded sound of a piano; and the bird-like whispering sound of a flute. All these instruments could play exactly the same note, yet anyone would be able to recognise instantly an electric guitar from a piano from a flute.


Musical structure is usually defined by several things including scales and/or arpeggios , rhythm, key signature, melodic patterns, variations Etc. To keep this particular paragraph concise, all or some of the elements of music theory can be used in the structure of a musical piece. Many composers that listen to Bach are fascinated by the palindromes, variations and inversions of patterns contained in its compositional structure, most of which will never be noticed unless you plan on going through the notation with a magnifying glass.

--Subnote, Colhsh: Musical Structure also refers to the overall layout of a musical work as a whole, these come in several forms the simplest form is Binary form, in which there is one section of music "A" which is then juxtaposed against a contrasting "B" section which finishes it, giving the piece an "A-B" structure. An expansion on this is ternary form which is the same as binary, except that the "A" section is repeated, making the overall structure "A-B-A"

Another musical form that was popular during the classical era is that of the Rondo form, in which there is an "A" section that is repeated throughout the work, but is interrupted by contrasting episodes, making any work in a random form typically have the structure of "A-B-A-C-A-D-Etc."

Larger structures include "Sonata form," which was developed in the Classical Period. The "Sonata form" often is the structure of the first movement of a Sonata, Symphony, and Concerto. The Sonata form is comprised of four sections.

  • Exposition - Introduces a main theme in the tonic key, and a subordinate theme in a related key - often the dominant, or if in a minor key - the relative major.
  • Development - Develops and elaborates the themes and explores new and exciting key centers.
  • Recapitulation - Returns to the tonic key and states the main theme and subordinate theme. The subordinate theme is often reworked to stay in the tonic.
  • Coda - Concludes the piece.


Texture refers to the layering of sounds on top of each other. It describes the depth, nature, and relationship of those layers of sound, or voices. It can describe the vertical and horizontal relationship between the voices. Some common textures are:

  • Monophonic texture: A melody by itself, without harmony, and without another melody. For example, singing in the shower, monks chanting, or a fife and drum corps.
  • Polyphonic texture: Two or more melodies, heard at the same time. For example, singing "Row, row, row your boat" as a round, or a Bach Fugue.
  • Homophonic texture: A melody accompanied by harmony, or by less important melodies. Most popular music is homophonic, and much classical music as well, such as Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata, or a church hymn.
  • Mixed texture: More than one musical texture. For example, singing a round (polyphony) accompanied by guitar chords (homophony).

Texture can also be described with such terms as thick, dense, or open.

See also[edit]

0 thoughts on “Pitches In Music Definition Essay

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *