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Elements/Features of Music

The organisation of time in music
What meter do you hear?

How do you describe the beat?


Regular, odd

Can you tap your toe to the beat?

Rhythmic motif, syncopation

A series of pitches (notes) that form a cohesive musical
Its the main tune that stands out
When youre humming your favourite tune...

Youre probably humming the melody

Are there other melodies that you can hear other than
the main melody?
Pitch: High, low which instruments play high sounds
and which instruments play low sounds?
For one section is it only high sounds or only low
sounds? Does that change?
Who is playing it? Does the melody repeat (melodic

Sounds that provide support and enrichment
for the melody
Accompanies the melody
How would you describe it?

Happy, sad, tense, calming

The two most common harmonies are:


Major (happy sounding)

Minor (sad sounding)

Chords: added notes, repeated sequence

The distinct sound of every instrument or voice
Also known as tone colour

What instruments or voice types do you hear?

What makes the specific performer youre listening
to unique? What words describe it?

Harsh, smooth, mellow, rough, deep, shrill etc.

The combination of timbres sounding
What kind of a group do you hear?
o Symphony orchestra, string quartet, jazz band, folk duo, brass
quintet, rap group, electronic samples

How many of each type of instrument/voice?

Changing, fluid
o Monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic, unison, silence

The purposeful arrangement of events in a
composition; the general shape of a piece
How often is musical material repeated?

When and how is material repeated?

Can you identify the form?
o Verse-chorus, rondo, sonata, blues, ternary, throughcomposed etc.

The various levels of volume (loud & soft) in music
How loud or soft is the music?
How does this change over the course of the piece?
Which instruments/voices are loud, and which are soft?
How does this change over the course of the piece?
Use musical terms to describe the dynamics:
o Forte, mezzo-forte, mezzo-piano, piano, pianissimo

Words that are spoken or sung in a piece of music
Not all music has lyrics, so this element isnt always present
in music

What language do you hear? If you dont know, can you

find a translation?
Are the words spoken or sung?
How do all the other elements fit in (or not fit in) with the

The speed or pace of a piece of music
o Fast, slow, meduim, speeding up, slowing down

How does this affect the feel of the piece?

When was this piece written?
Is it like other pieces from the same time/style? How
What circumstances/history was occuring at the time
that influenced this piece?