ELEMENTS OF MUSIC by linfengfengfz


There are several key elements of music. When
combined and used correctly they express emotion
and provide us with “singable”, enjoyable pieces that
can represent time, place and even become what we
use to describe who we are and what we represent.
   Definition: The patterns of long and short
    sounds and silences in music.

   To create a rhythm combine any variety of
    notes and rests together (see your note and
    rest value chart).

   Rhythms can and are performed throughout
    any piece of music by any instrument,
    however, we can mostly recognize a rhythm
    when it is performed on a percussion

   Definition: A steady pulse contained in

   Music is organized with time signatures
    that indicate how many beats are found
    within one measure of music.
   The top number of the time signature
    indicates how many beats will appear in
    one measure/bar of music.

2      3    4     6       6 over 8 means 6 beats per bar

4      4    4     8       4 over 4 means 4 beats per bar
   The bottom number of the time signature
    indicates what type of note receives one

             The 8 in 6/8 time means an eighth note receives one beat

2      3    4       6
4      4    4       8
            The 4 in 4/4 time means a quarter notes receives one beat
   The time signature appears at the
    beginning of the music after the clef
    (treble or bass).

   It does not appear in any other measure
    unless there is a time change throughout
    the piece.
   Definition: The pace or speed at which a
    piece of music is performed.

   Tempo markings are traditionally given in
    Italian and the words that refer to tempo
    can be categorized in the following ways:
   Grave – extremely slow and solemn

   Adagio – very slow

   Lento – slow

   Largo – slow and broad

   Larghetto – less slow than largo
   Andante – rather slow, at a moderate
    walking pace

   Andantino – a little faster than andante

   Moderato – at a moderate pace

   Allegretto – fairly quick, slightly slower than
   Con moto – with movement, or a certain quickness

   Allegro – lively, rather quick

   Vivace – quick and lively

   Veloce – with velocity

   Rapido – rapid

   Presto – very quick

   Prestissimo – as quick as possible
Other words that refer to Tempo
   Accelerando – gradually getting quicker

   Meno mosso – less movement, slower

   Ritardando – gradually getting slower

   Rallentando – gradually getting slower

   Tempo rubato – robbed time
   Definition: The volume of the sound, as well as
    the style in which the performer plays the

   It is important to not confuse how loud or soft
    something is on a recorded performance. It is
    easy to turn up (or down) the volume using an
    electronic device.

   When dynamics are discussed in regards
    to orchestration we are referring to how
    loud or soft each instrument can perform
    on its own, the stylistic elements that
    support that sound and finally what
    dynamics they can create when combining
    and performing as an ensemble or
Italian Terminology

Italian       SYMBOL     Translation
pianissimo    pp (ppp)   As soft as possible
piano         P          Soft
mezzo piano   mp         Medium soft
mezzo forte   mf         Medium loud
forte         f          Loud
fortissimo    ff (fff)   As loud as possible
Variations in Volume
Italian Terminology   SYMBOL        Translation
Crescendo                           Gradually louder
Decrescendo                         Gradually softer
Sforzando             sfz   or sf   Strongly accented
Forte – piano         fp            Loud, then immediately soft
Terminology referring to “style” of
Italian Terminology      Translation
brilliante or con brio   With brilliance or vivacity
cantabile                In a singing style
dolce                    Sweetly
legato                   Smoothly
scherzando               Playfully
staccato                 Detached
tenuto                   Held
vivace                   Lively

   Definition: The unique quality or qualities
    inherent in sounds that allow us to
    distinguish between them.

   Timber (TAMBOUR – as in
    “tambourine”) has also been referred to
    as the tone colouring of an instrument.
   The distinct tone quality of an instrument
    can be represented by the colour that
    matches the sound.

   Let us consider the Flute.
    What colour(s) would you think best
    represents the sound quality of this
   It is also important to consider how the
    instrument is being played.

   Quickly review in your notes some of the
    Italian terminology that is used to
    describe the styles of how one can
    perform on their instrument...
   At this point, depending on the style in
    which the instrument is being played,
    specific colours and/or descriptive words
    could be used to best interpret the
    sounds you hear!
   There are major differences between the
    families of instruments and how they

   There are also differences that occur
    within each family. For example Flute vs.
    Bassoon (both Woodwind), however very
    different tone qualities.
   Definition: The degree of highness or
    lowness of a sound.
The Staff

   Music is written on a STAFF of five lines
    and the four spaces between

It is important to remember to count from the bottom
Music Notation

   Music notes are oval shaped symbols that
    are placed on the lines and in the spaces.
    They represent musical sounds, called
   If the notes appear higher on the staff
    they sound higher in pitch.

   If the notes appear lower on the staff they
    sound lower in pitch.
Organizing Musical Sounds
   Musical notes are named after the first
    seven letters of the alphabet:
    A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C ...
    they keep repeating over and over and by
    their position on the staff they can
    represent the entire range of musical
Clefs in Music Notation

   Clef signs help to organize the staff so
    notes can easily be read.
Treble Clef
   The treble clef is used for notes in the
    higher pitch ranges. The treble clef (or G
    clef) has evolved from a stylized letter G
    into the present:
   The curl of the treble clef circles the line
    on which the note G is placed. This G is
    above middle C (The C nearest the
    middle of the keyboard).
Note naming patterns – drawing
and naming notes!
   Take out a pencil and on a new sheet of
    paper create the following – a blank staff:

   Use a ruler if you have one to ensure they
    are straight and even!
   Now draw the treble clef and create 5
    notes, one on each line (leave some space
    between each note so that they do not
    stack on top of each other). Somewhat
    like this...

   Do not colour them in and only draw
    them on the five lines!
   Now let’s name the five line notes that
    appear in the treble clef...
Note naming patterns

 In the treble staff the names of the line
  notes from bottom to top are:
 This order can be memorized with the
      Every, Good, Boy, Deserves, Fudge

   Now recreate a new staff (including the
    treble clef) and fill in the four spaces using
    whole notes...
   Get ready to name them...
   The names of notes in the spaces spell
    the word:

                FA C E
The Bass Clef

   The Bass clef (pronounced “base”) is used
    for notes in the lower pitch ranges. The
    bass clef (or F clef) has evolved from the
    stylized letter f into:
   The two dots of the bass clef surround
    the fourth line, the line on which the note
    F is played.
   For a third time create a staff on your
    paper only this time practice drawing the
    bass clef – try to place the two dots
    directly in the 3rd and 4th space
    surrounding that fourth line.

   It is very important to indicate the dots in
    those exact spaces or you are not
    drawing the symbol correctly!
   Now draw on the 5 line notes leaving
    room in between (no “snowman” or
   Let’s name these notes...
 In the bass staff the names of the notes
  on the lines from bottom to top are:
                  G B D FA
 The phrase that can help you memorize
  this order is:
        Good, Boys, Do, Fine, Always

   Finally, one last time create a staff
    (including the bass clef) and draw on the
    four space notes
   Unfortunately the space note names do
    not combine to make a word.

   Do you know a phrase that can be used
    as a way to identify the notes of the bass
   The space notes appear from bottom to
    top as:

   The phrase that can help you memorize
    this order is:
              All, Cows, Eat, Grass

   Definition: A series of pitches that move
    forward (the sing-able part) within a piece
    of music.
Types of Melody
   There are two types of Melody.
   A conjunct melody is a melody that
    moves in stepwise motion.
   A Disjunct melody is one that moves with
    more leaps (jumps) than steps.
   Definition: Combinations of pitches
    sounding simultaneously.

   Consider two performers presenting a
    piece to an audience. If one instrument is
    performing on whole notes while the
    other is playing the main melody there
    will be harmony.
   Instruments that have strings (violin, harp)
    or tuned percussion (piano, xylophone)
    can play harmony on their own.

   However, instruments like Flute, Clarinet,
    or Trumpet, need to have other
    performers playing with them for the
    harmony to occur.
   Definition: The structure of a piece of
    music, the way a piece of music is
   There are many forms in music, but the
    main elements you need to consider
    when defining a piece of music is the
    repetition and contrast that occurs in the
   Forms have been categorized based on
    letter names, for example A B form is
    known as BINARY Form

   ABA form is known as TERNARY Form
    where there is a repeat of an entire
    section – the A section of the melody.
 In Modern or 20th Century music
  sections or musical ideas have been
  categorized using the terms “Chorus” (or
  Refrain) and “Verse”.
 There may even be a “Bridge” which is
  sometimes a completely different idea
  within the melody that often occurs near
  the end of the song.
   Example:
Verse1 Chorus Verse2 Chorus Bridge Chorus Chorus

   The text of most Modern music can easily
    organize the sections of the melody as we
    can (almost always) understand the
    language and therefore identify where the
    repetition of the melody occurs.
   Definition: The fabric or layering of sound
    created by melody, harmony and tone
    colouring (timbre).
   Consider all of the instrumentation that
    can be combined to create a single piece
    of music.
   Each instrument is responsible for a
    melodic and/or rhythmic line.

   When each instrument combines
    together with the ensemble (orchestra)
    the texture is specific to what and how
    they are performing.
Different Textures
   Homophonic:
    A soloist performing a melody.

   Monophonic:
    A soloist performing a melody with
    accompaniment (for example Flute with

   Polyphonic:
    Many musicians performing/combining
    rhythmic and melodic patterns together.
Resources for images:
   world-of-songwriting.com

To top