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  • Chris Anderson

Music Revision - Melody Part 15 - Texture 2

Music Revision - Melody Part 15 - Texture 2

In the previous blog we revised the different types of texture in music. In this blog we’ll look at the different ways texture can be used.


The mynah bird and certain breeds of parrot are renowned for imitating things. They hear a word, phrase, and copy it. The starling and the mockingbird are known to imitate other birdsongs weaving it into their own melody. Similarly, imitation in music will repeat a phrase but with slight variations. Often one instrument will imitate another and then overlap.


Remember singing Row, Row Your Boat in primary school? You’d start singing together, then teacher would split you into groups and one group would start and the next would come in, then the next, and so on. You were singing a canon. A canon is where each part has the same melody but comes in at a different time, usually one or two bars after the start. A canon (or round for a simpler term) is an example of polyphonic texture.

Looping & Layering

40 to 50 years ago, looping was done by cutting lengths of tape and sticking them together to form…you’ve guessed it…a loop! This would mean that the same phrase could be repeated over and over again. Nowadays this is all done electronically and people like Ed Sheeran and the virtuoso pianist Peter Bence have certainly made their mark using looping techniques. They build up their music adding a new loop a bit at a time. This is called layering - much like a trifle. This video is one of my favourite looping/layering examples.

Unison and Octaves

To make music more interesting composers will use different textures throughout the piece. A single line of melody played by more than one instrument is monophonic. If the instruments are playing at the same register it’s known as unison. If the melody is the same but in different registers (with the same pitch) they’re playing in octaves.

Call & Response

There are three different ways to describe the same thing, and all three are acceptable. Antiphonal (antiphony), call and response, question and answer, all mean that the first group will play or sing and a second group will respond or reply. A lot of religious music used call and response - especially in Catholic Mass.

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