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By: Ramel T. Oate

Pitch Rhythm Melody Timbre Dynamics Texture


register (high or low); Organization of pitches with a pattern of intervals between them creates scales; Words we might use to describe scales: major/minor, chromatic, gapped, pentatonic.


the time element of music. A specific rhythm is a specific pattern in time; we usually hear these in relation to a steady pulse, and mentally organize this pulse or tempo into meter (sometimes called a "time signature"). Meter organizes beats into groups, usually of two or three; beats can be divided into small units usually 2, 3 or 4 subdivisions

Melody , or musical line

is a combination of pitch and rhythm (some say "duration"). Sometimes a melody is considered to be the theme of a composition. We might characterize melody by its contour (rising or falling) and the size of the intervals in it. A melody that uses mostly small intervals (or scale steps) and is smooth is said to

conjunct melody. Not surprisingly, a melody that uses large intervals is called a disjunct melody. A motif (or motive) is either a very short melody or a distinctive part of a longer melody. I might describe the opening four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony as a "motific cell."


sound quality or tone color; timbre is the characteristic that allows us to distinguish between one instrument and another, and the difference between vowel sounds (for example, long "a" or "ee"). Terms we might use to describe timbre: bright, dark, brassy, reedy, harsh, noisy, thin, buzzy, pure, raspy, shrill, mellow,

timbre in emotional terms (excited, angry, happy, sad, etc.); that is not the sound quality, it is its effect or interpretation. Rather than describe the timbre of an instrument in other terms, it is often more clear just to describe the timbre by naming the instrument, once we have learned the names and sounds of a few


loud or soft. A composition that has extremely soft passages as well as extremely loud passages is said to have a large or wide dynamic range. Dynamics can change suddenly or gradually (crescendo, getting louder, or decrescendo, getting softer.)

monophonic (one voice or line), polyphonic (many voices, usually similar, as in Renaissance or Baroque counterpoint), homophonic (1. a melody with simple accompaniment; 2. chords moving in the same rhythm

heterophony mixed or multiple similar versions of a melody performed simultaneously (rare in European music; possibly used in Ancient Greece) collage juxtaposition & superimposition of extremely different textures or sounds

Beat and Meter

Beats = give music its regular rhythmic pattern. Beats are grouped together in a measure; the notes and rests corresponds to a certain number of beats.


refers to rhythmic patterns produced by grouping together strong and weak beats. Meter may be in duple (2 beats in a measure), triple (3 beats in a measure), quadruple (4 beats in a measure) and so on.

Hudhud chants of the Ifugao

The Hudhud consists of narrative chants traditionally performed by the Ifugao community, which is well known for its rice terraces extending over the highlands of the northern island of the Philippine archipelago. It is practised during the rice

time and at funeral wakes and rituals. Thought to have originated before the seventh century, the Hudhud comprises more than 200 chants, each divided into 40 episodes. A complete recitation may last several days.

Since the Ifugaos culture is matrilineal, the wife generally takes the main part in the chants, and her brother occupies a higher position than her husband. The language of the stories abounds in

expressions and repetitions and employs metonymy, metaphor and onomatopoeia, rendering transcription very difficult. Thus, there are very few written expressions of this tradition. The chant tells

customary law, religious beliefs and traditional practices, and reflects the importance of rice cultivation. The narrators, mainly elderly women, hold a key position in the community, both as historians and preachers. The Hudhud epic is chanted alternately by the first narrator and a choir, employing