Student Question

What are the 7 elements of music?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
  • Dynamics refers to the volume of what a listener hears or what a performer is directed to produce.
  • Form refers to the structure of music; a common example is twelve-bar blues. Form almost always involves some kind of harmonic formula. Harmony is traditionally described via the use of Roman numerals that designate what part of a scale each chord is built. The form of twelve bar blues is as follows:

Four measures I I I I

Four measures IV IV I I

Four measures V IV I I

  • Harmony refers to what many theorists call vertical structure. It can also be described as how a melody interacts with the sounds around it. Harmony is the sound that is happening at each moment.
  • Melody refers to the horizontal movement of music. The melodic structure leads the listener from one point of the music to the next. Melody can be straight or ragged. It can have wide leaps or small jumps.
  • Rhythm is the mathematical structure of music. It is the way in which the sounds of music interact with time. Most music has a well-defined pulse that can be called the beat.
  • Texture refers to the sounds used or heard in music. The texture of a bluegrass band is relatively simple and usually comprised of five sounds produced by strings: fiddle, banjo, dobro, guitar, and bass. The texture of a full orchestra is elaborate and complex. Texture can also refer to a specific method of composition. The texture of most popular music is homophonic. This texture is one melody clearly supported by other sounds.
  • Timbre refers to the quality of sound; some examples include brassy, scratchy, thin, bright, dark, and smooth.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial