Music Appreciation - Prairie Spirit Blogs

Grade 8 Arts
Elements of Music
Just like there are elements of art, there are also elements of music. They
• Dynamics
• Rhythm
• Pitch
• Timbre
• Texture
Dynamics describe the degree of loudness or softness of sounds in
relationship to what effect or mood is being communicated.
Loud: Carmina Burana: O Fortuna
Ode to Joy -
Soft: Moonlight Sonata -
Crescendo: Bolero -
Curse of the Black Pearl Soundtrack
Rhythm can be separated into four categories:
Beat -- the regular, repeated pulsation in music
Tempo -- the speed or pace of the music
Fast: William Tell Overture (Finale)
Slow: Pachelbel’s Canon in D
Patterns of duration -- groupings of longer and shorter sounds and silences
(the term rhythm is sometimes used in this context as well)
Metre -- the grouping of beats into recurring patterns (twos, threes, fours,
3/3 Time: Moonlight Sonata -
4/4 Time: Drum Beat -
Pitch describes the highness or lowness of sounds. A melody is a
combination of pitches and durations that make a musical statement similar
to a sentence. Melodies may consist of one or more smaller sections
(phrases) similar to clauses in a sentence. Pitch direction describes the
movement of pitch patterns or melodies, which may move upward,
downward or stay the same.
Pitch Examples
High: Queen of the Night Aria
The Fifth Element
Range: Hallelujah Chorus\
Range/Mood: Disney Compilation
Timbre describes the quality or "colour" of sound. Timbre is determined by
those characteristics of sound that help us distinguish one sound from
Sweet Child O’ Mine -
Acoustic -
Sweet Child O’ Mine Flute
Orchestra -
School Band – (go to 1:42) -
Timbre Examples
Twang Country -
Blues -
Bluegrass -
Rockabilly -
Bebop and Swing Guitar -
Disco Guitar -
Spanish Guitar -
Texture is the combination and layering of different sounds in music.
Composers create various textures by combining sounds, instruments or
voices to achieve expressive effects. The texture may be thick, thin, dense or
transparent. Harmony is one aspect of texture. Harmony occurs when two or
more sounds are heard simultaneously.
Harmony Singers:
Dubstep: (first 4.5 minutes)
Principles of Composition
The elements of art are combined together using certain principles in order
to create music. Those principles are:
• Variety
• Repetition
• Balance
• Acoustics
• Transition
• Tension and Resolution
• Unity
A musician or composer uses variety within a musical composition to create
interest. Variety is created by using or altering different elements in
numerous ways. Variety is often created through the use of contrast, such as
loud to soft dynamics, harsh to smooth timbres, and thick to thin textures. A
composer might, for example, repeat a previously heard melody twice as
fast (tempo change) or in a different key (tonality change).
Musicians and composers use repetition to help the listener become familiar
with the major ideas or themes of a musical work. The restatement of a
particular melody, theme or rhythm often draws the audience back to an
idea or thought that the musician or composer wants to communicate.
Repetition also serves to unify many compositions and draw attention to
ideas that are central to the work, just as repetition does in poetry.
Rap Beats:
Balance in music traditionally has referred to the relative volume of various
sounds. It can also pertain to the equalization of other elements. For
instance, a musician can try to balance timbres through instrument selection
in order to maintain a desired sound or effect. Balance could also refer to
similarities of style or duration in the A sections of a composition in ABA
form. A lack of balance can also be used to create a desired effect. A very
loud sound in a quiet section might redirect the listener’s attention or
introduce a different theme or melody.
Acoustics pertain to the properties or qualities of sound transmission in a
space. This includes the way places such as meeting halls, classrooms or an
outdoor field reinforce, absorb and reflect sound. Students can explore the
many ways acoustics can be changed. For example, a student could play a
drum in an empty closet and then again when it is full of clothing. The
acoustics of a space can also alter the timbre of a sound by reinforcing or
absorbing certain parts (frequencies) of the sound. A musician or composer
might create a piece of music for a particular space such as a specific church,
or a general space such as “outdoors”.
Transition in music typically involves the connection of ideas or "bridging" of
one part of the music to another. Transitional material might foreshadow
upcoming material or include a change of tonality from major to minor.
Transitions might be subtle and difficult to notice initially or very prominent
in order to attract attention.
Tension and Resolution
Tension can be created in music through the use of many different elements.
For example, a building of dynamics, a rising of a melodic line, or the use of
more dissonant harmony could all lead to an increase in tension. Resolution
is a common occurrence after the building of tension. This involves the
manipulation of the elements to create a sense of release or relaxation.
Resolution might be created by a change in dynamics, a change in height of
melody, or movement from dissonant to consonant harmony. In many forms
of music, tension builds to a climatic peak and is followed by a brief
concluding resolution to finish the work.
Unity is achieved when all the parts of a composition work together to make
a whole. The elements, ideas and principles are combined in such a way that
all are essential to the product. Alteration of any part of the creation
changes the effect.
Form refers to the organizational structure of the music, or how the musical
ideas are arranged. The form is usually described using letters. For example,
AB form describes a composition with two contrasting sections; ABA form
has two contrasting sections and the first section is repeated to conclude the
300 Violin Orchestra
Duelling Cellos
Trans Siberian Orchestra

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