Elements of Music:
Sounds may be perceived as pleasant or unpleasant. To have a better understanding we need to ask, what is “sound”? What are these sounds that we hear? What causes it, and how do we hear it?
Sound, begins with the vibration of an object, such as a table that is pounded or a string that is plucked. The vibrations are transmitted to our ears by a medium, which is usually air. As a result of the vibrations, our eardrums start vibrating too, and signals are transmitted to the brain. There the signals are selected, organized, and interpreted.
The 11 Musical components I’ll be discussing and explaining are; Arrangement, Structure, Tonality, Harmony, Timbre, Dynamics, Rhythm, Melody, Texture, Tempo, and Instrumentation
An arrangement is the adaptation of a previously written musical composition for presentation. It may differ from the original form by re-harmonization, paraphrasing or development of the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structure. Arranging is the art of giving an existing melody musical variety.
In popular music an arrangement is a setting of a piece of music, which may have been composed by the arranger or by someone else. Most commonly, this is a matter of providing instrumentation for the songwriter or composer’s basic melody and harmony. It may add details omitted by the composer, or it may replace those originally given and be merely based on the original work.
In classical music an arrangement is a setting of any composition for a different medium other than the one for which it was created: e.g. a piano piece may be arranged for full orchestra, or an orchestral composition may be arranged for solo piano. Often arrangement involves considerable reworking of the original material, in conformance with the resources of the final medium. An arrangement may specify or vary some or all of:
- Harmonies, including parts
- Style, dynamics and other instrumentation to the players
- Sequence, including the order and number of repeats sections such verses and choruses, and provision of sections to be improvised by instrumentalists
- Introduction, coda, modulations and other variations
Taken From – (WIKIPEDEA) “Timbre has been called, “…the psychoacoustician’s multidimensional waste-basket category for everything that cannot be labeled pitch or loudness.” Many commentators have attempted to decompose timbre into component attributes. For example, J. F. Schouten (1968, 42) describes the, “elusive attributes of timbre”, as “determined by at least five major acoustic parameters”, which Robert Erickson (1975) finds, “scaled to the concerns of much contemporary music”:
- The range between tonal and noiselike character
- The spectral envelope
- The time envelope in terms of rise, duration, and decay (ADSR—attack, decay, sustain, release)
- The changes both of spectral envelope (formant-glide) and fundamental frequency (micro-intonation)
- The prefix, or onset of a sound, quite dissimilar to the ensuing lasting vibration
“Erickson 1975, 6 gives a table of subjective experiences and related physical phenomena based on Schouten’s five attributes:””
|Tonal character, usually pitched||Periodic sound|
|Noisy, with or without some tonal character, including rustle noise||Noise, including random pulses characterized by the rustle time (the mean interval between pulses)|
|Beginning/ending||Physical rise and decay time|
|Coloration glide or formant glide||Change of spectral envelope|
|Microintonation||Small change (one up and down) in frequency|
In music, dynamics normally refers to the volume of a sound or note, but can also refer to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic (staccato, legato etc.) or functional (velocity). The term is also applied to the written or printed musical notation used to indicate dynamics. Dynamics are relative and do not refer to specific volume levels.
The two basic dynamic indications in music are:
- p or piano, meaning “soft”.
- f or forte, meaning “loud”.
More subtle degrees of loudness or softness are indicated by:
- mp, standing for mezzo-piano, meaning “moderately soft”.
- mf, standing for mezzo-forte, meaning “moderately loud”.
Beyond f and p, there are also
- pp, standing for “pianissimo” and meaning “very soft”.
- ff, standing for “fortissimo” and meaning “very loud”.
To indicate an even softer dynamic than pianissimo, ppp is marked, with the reading “piano pianissimo” or pianissimo possibile (“softest possible”). The same is done on the loud side of the scale, with fff being “forte fortissimo” or fortissimo possibile (“loudest possible”).
Texture is the way the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, therefore determining the overall quality of the sound in a piece. Texture is often described in regard to the density, or thickness, and range, or width between lowest and highest pitches, in relative terms as well as more specifically distinguished according to the number of voices, or parts, and the relationship between these voices. A piece’s texture may be affected by the number and character of parts playing at once, the timbre of the instruments or voices playing these parts and the harmony, tempo, and rhythms used. In music, some common terms for different types of texture are:
- Monophonic – Monophonic texture includes a single melodic line with no accompaniment.
- Biphonic – Two distinct lines, the lower sustaining a drone (constant pitch) while the other line creates a more elaborate melody above it.
- Polyphonic or Counterpoint – Multiple melodic voices which are to a considerable extent independent from or in imitation with one another.
- Homophonic – The most common texture in Western music: melody and accompaniment. Multiple voices of which one, the melody, stands out prominently and the others form a background of harmonic accompaniment. If all the parts have much the same rhythm, the homophonic texture can also be described as homorhythmic.
- Homorhythmic – Multiple voices with similar rhythmic material in all parts. Also known as “chordal”. May be considered a condition of homophony or distinguished from it.
- Heterophonic – Two or more voices simultaneously performing variations of the same melody.
- Additive – A texture most commonly found in rock music that starts off mono or homophonic, and gradually changes and builds up to polyphonic. This also refers to the volume of a song.
- the instrument’s particular timbre, or range of timbres
- the range of pitches available on the instrument, as well as its dynamic range
- the constraints of playing technique, such as length of breath, possible fingerings, or the average player’s stamina
- the relative difficulty of particular music on that instrument, meaning repeated notes are much easier to play on the violin than on the piano; while trills are relatively easy on the flute, but extremely difficult on the trombone);
- the availability of special effects or extended techniques, such as col legno playing, flutter tongue, or glissando;
- the notation conventions for the instrument.
The two songs that I’ve compared musical components are; Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb and Neelix – Expect What. Two completely different types of songs. Pink Floyd is Psychedelic Rock and Neelix is Psychedelic Trance. Both have A psychedelic Influence but still different components to each one.
1st Song: Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb
Arrangement: The instruments are arranged in such a way to create a progressive journey. Starting off slowly with the emotional Pads and slow drums and percussion building up to the loud and moody guitars. The song builds on a 7/8 bar time signature building in energy but a slow melancholic kind of energy, one that keeps the depressive mood throughout the song.
Structure: The structure is based around a 7/8 bar time signature and has a lot of progression throughout building in melancholic energy rising to the main guitar solo. The guitars are structurally well thought creating the feel of being led through this dark journey. The drums are well placed keeping that slow tempo throughout the song but also helping create the progression. The synth sounds and pads are structuraly placed in such a way as to enclose the piece in this emotional atmosphere.
Dynamics: The loudness of the sounds increase ever so progressively giving off that feeling of anticipation of some sort of high energy lead while staying within the melancholic tone.
Tonality: this piece was written in a minor scaled key, giving off that dark emotional atmosphere. the tonality helps to create the mood of the song and the tone of each instrument gives off an indivual dark emotion, helping to contribute to the emotionally progressive piece.
Harmony: The instruments work in perfect harmony creating the beautifully structured melancholic progression. The synth and guitar sounds create a emotionally moving atmosphere leading up to the high energy electric guitar lead. The male vocal works with all the instruments guiding them through the dark emotions they create.
Melody: There is slow depressing melody evoking a lot of emotion while cleverly using different instruments to give off the dark emotional melody, slow high pitched synth pads used to create that airy atmosphere and at the same time the loud melancholic guitar putting emphasis on the emotional journey.
Timbre: There is a dark kind of timbre to this song, with clear vocals and synth pads creating a quality atmosphere within the song. It gives off the impression of a slow journey of melancholic ideas and emotions. Sounds like it was made in a minor scale
Rhythm: Its got a slow progressive rhythm, with high energy leads, adding to the melancholic feel of the song. Beautiful rhythmic guitar leads and synch sounds
Tempo: The tempo is Slow to progressive. Its used to create a sense of intimacy within the piece of music. The tempo of this song along with the other elements create an emotional atmosphere, it gives an idea of importance.
Instrumentation: There is a guitar, Male vocal, Drums, Bass guitar and synthesis within the piece. The use of these instruments in this song allow the piece to breath with the way they’ve all been arranged. they create progression within the piece of music. Its really clever instruments working together to create a melancholic atmosphere
Texture: To me it sounds like a Homophonic texture, by using one main guitar lead surrounded by dark atmospheric pads and slow drums and percussion to add to the feel of progression throughout the piece of music.
2nd Song: Neelix – Expect What
Arrangement: The arrangement is a typical Trance type arrangement and structure. Lots of psychedelic sounding pads and effects to create atmosphere with a driving lead to create direction and energy. Since its progressive trance there is lack of high intense energy but still has that hands up bouncy feel to it.
Structure: The time signature is a simple 4/4 Trance-dance structure, giving that full on bouncy feel. The structure is typical of a trance track; Intro-Break-Middle-Break-End. it has a smooth intro full of pads that leads up to the first break then a middle part of just pads followed by a build up to the main break following off by a closing break for djs to mix into another track.
Dynamics: The dynamics are loud and spacious creating a spacey or large atmosphere. The leads and effects set the boundaries of this space by giving it direction and movement. Very creative use of colour within the track giving it a light happy kind of feel to it and reducing any dark emotion from the sounds, however still having a very emotionally influenced sound.
Tonality: This track to me sounds like it was produced in a minor scael however it gives off the impression of being in major by being so happy and upliftinh. Its a good sense of understanding of tones to produce sounds like this to give off the specific harmonious tone.
Timbre: There is a very light and melodic timbre to this piece of music. You could say the quality of the sounds are very pure and bright, creating the uplifting sort of feel to the music.
Harmony: The Musical instruments and sounds work nicely to create the light harmonic feel to the song. the sounds and pitches are produced through the same key with variations to each instrument giving it that harmonious feel.
Melody: The melody is bright and uplifting creaing a sense of good feeling and happiness. the melody tells you to get up and dance. real uplifting sounds and driving effects create a beautiful trance melody with progressive elements giving off a relaxed party atmosphere.
Rhythm: It has a nice up beat bouncy rhythm to it. The use of drums and leads makes it so, and creates bouncy sort of energy throughout the song
Instrumentation: This is electronic music so synths and midi inputs have been mainly used, including drums, bass synths, lead synths, guitar sounds and hi hat percussions. These have been used in an interesting way to give off the happy kinda bounce to the song.
Tempo: The tempo is set at 140 BPM and that is to create the driving feel of the bass and lead synths. Trance is generally created at speeds ranging from 128 – 190+ BPM. The tempo gives away the high energy bounce that comes from the drums. The tempo of the synths give that uplifting kinda of feel to the track
Texture: I would say this track is also homophonic as there is a main lead synth surrounded by various effects and pads. this creates beautifu texture as all of the instruments work in harmony together to create a rich colour of sounds that create a great sense of euphoria.