The basic terms that we all learn about music are that we must remember fully to understand what the composers were living through in creating their compositions for society. These basic terms are rhythm, melody, harmony and timbre/color whether vocal and/or instrumental. The basic definitions of these terms are as follows for those who need a brief review. 

Music Instruments for Learning Music
Music Instruments
  1. Rhythm – means that ‘events’ that reoccur regularly over time and in music rhythm refers to specific patterns of longer and shorter durations that ‘endures’ the passage of time (Smith & Keister, 2014).
  1. Beat – refers to a pulse underlying music (Smith & Keister, 2014). In my words it is what you feel and what makes you clap your hands or tap your feet.
  1. Melody – means the main theme of the music dealing with pitch and how the music flows when listened by others (Smith & Keister, 2014).
  1. Harmony – refers to the result of the experience and the conditioning of a culture of people and the culture with all its’ pitches of highs and lows on a scale over the centuries of music (Smith & Keister, 2014). 
  1. Timbre/Color – means how music is performed with various instruments and voices of many ranges and volumes and uniqueness. (Smith & Keister, 2014).

Texture (form), style and mood brings all the basic elements of music together. Texture is how the comparisons of different musical lines interact with each other and the resultant sound that is created and shows the relationships of music as a whole (Smith & Keister, 2014) and this brings the issue of form is how music comes together and makes us feel when we all listen to the various kinds of music out there whether instrumental and/or vocal of the past, present and into the future.  In learning about music and its basic elements when we listen to all music from Classical to Rock and Roll.

     There are a few more musical terms that will enhance the listeners appreciation of what the composers of the piece wanted us to receive when we listen to all kinds of music.  Terms that help us enjoy music are tempo or the speed of which the beats occur; there are two forms and they are accelerando that is a gradual speeding up of tempo and ritardando that is a gradual slowing down of tempo (Smith & Keister,2014).  Along with the speed of the music listeners will hear various patterns of music called meter or the time signature, which could be a two, three or even a four or five beat (Smith & Keister, 2014).

     Music is instrumental or vocal and one must learn the musical alphabet of ABCDEFG while learning various keyboards and other various instruments and the human voice.  In learning this alphabet the listener will become familiar with conjunct and disjunct.  Conjunct means stepping normally from one pitch to the next one, and if erratic or skipping or leaping from one pitch to another is known as disjunct (Smith & Keister, 2014).  As a listener all of these terms it all comes together as in learning about cultural diversity and the experience and conditioning of music in this case you have acculturation (Smith & Keister, 2014).  Listening to a particular composition whether it is a pleasant and stable piece it is said to be consonant, and I mean not a letter as in learning to read, and if the piece is unstable and erratic and clashes it is dissonant (Smith & Keister, 2014), and I do not mean an enemy of the state.

Another aspect of listening to various musical compositions depends on the instrument or instruments the piece uses to communicate meaning to the listener. In an orchestra there are various stringed instruments, woodwinds, percussion, brass instruments and various electronic instruments along with the human voice to explore the many facets of music.  Music can be enjoyed by listening to various kinds of ensembles that are instrumental and vocal from duos, trios, and quartets that add depth and complement the melody of the piece.  This is done by homophony as in past eras the texture can also seen as polyphony or multiple melodic lines of music for listeners to enjoy. Music all comes together when the mood is struck and everything comes together.

There are eras in music that primarily deal with a manner and ways in which thought is expressed (Nye, 1987), as writers express themselves in words and artists express themselves in pictures. Music as in other areas of work deal with political, social and economic ideas and issues that occurred in various eras as the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Baroque era (Nye, 1987) that illustrates polyphonic and monophonic music of the times.

Music is a means to learn, teach and have fun and yes even just to relax. Music eras all their styles of music, but one must learn to listen and then, maybe the listener sees how the composer and the citizens of their time lived during their eras and continue to give the future reasons to listen to music and the songs and stories to see how what they did help all of us in our time and times to come. In learning these basics and then relating them to the various musical eras from prehistory to the contemporary era of today and tomorrow.

The beat goes on……..

A review of Medieval Music –  Gregorian Chant and its’ life


Nye, Robert E. & Bergethon, Bjornar.  (1987)  Basic Music Functional Musicianship for the Non-Music Major,  Chapter 11 Style Periods in Music; Sixth edition; Prentice-Hall, Inc.; Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Smith, Jeremy L. & Keister, Jay.  (2014)  Music Appreciation Histories & Cultures, Chapter One Fundamentals of Music; Kendall Hunt Publishing Company; Dubuque, IA.

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