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What is Texture?

Whenever you think of the word "Texture", it reminds you of how smooth or rough the surface is. But in Music, texture doesn't really make sense like that.

Texture in Music

Texture in Music refers to the number of musical lines and their density in a piece of music. In other words, Texture means the Layers of Sounds in a Piece of Music.

Texture is music can be described as the Density. If the piece of a song uses a less number of instruments or less number of layers of musical lines, then the density of the music is thin, if we are including a huge number of instruments in a song, then automatically the density is Thick.

Now, during the application of texture in music, what type of "phony" is being used, comes to the point of concern.


When you are working out a texture in music, list out the layers in music, for a solo artist, for example Pianist has two hands, therefore those two hands can perform multiple layering of lines at a time throughout the course of musical progression.

Role of an Instrument

There are four main roles that an instrument can perform,


This is defined as the series of pitches that form a tune. Melody is always the memorable part of the song, part which you can sing along.


Beat is defined as the underlying pulse of the music, drums or percussions generally takes care of this section. Even a Pianist can perform or produce the pulse.

Melodic Accompaniment

If someone is singing, then a guitar strumming chords, then it would do the job of melodic accompaniment.

Rhythmic Accompaniment

There are instruments which supports the beat, it may be drums, tambourine or congo, even the bass guitar does the job of rhythmic accompaniment by playing pitched notes with a particular groove which defines and supports the beat, rather it enhances.


Density of Music depends on three factors, first what are the instruments are on the list? Secondly, what type of ensemble is performing the music? Thirdly, in what order the instruments are being played throughout the entire song?

Regarding the first point, when you sketch a visual piece, you plan the colors, what kind of Hue you are going to use, similarly in music, once sketch the mood, plot and melody, you will eventually come to know what are the instruments will fit best together to represent your emotion.

Secondly, what kind of ensemble you are planning to create? Depending on the choice of ensemble, your density reflects.

Texture in Music
Layers of sounds vs the Density

After you have all the information you need to describe the depth or density of your song, then you are left out with HOW you are going to play those instruments, which can actually uplift the mood of the song or enhances the chances of describing your emotions.

Types of "Phony"

Monophonic – a single, unaccompanied melodic line

Homophonic – melody with accompaniment

Polyphonic – more than one melody performed at the same time

Heterophonic – two melodies that follow each other, but with more ornamentation in the main melody

If there was a group of people singing the song together, in Unison, with no other accompanying instruments, the texture is monophonic

Now, if the same song was sung, by several people, and there was someone strumming along with a guitar, playing a chordal accompaniment, then the texture would now be homophonic.

To make the same song polyphonic, the song could be sung by several voices, all starting the song at a different time, and singing the song in a “round”.

To change the texture into heterophonic, would mean, for example, several voices singing the song, a guitar strumming away, and a solo voice singing the melody with lots of fancy vocal flourishes and embellishments over the top of the simply sung melody by the group!

There are a few other important musical terms and definitions that you should know to help you deepen your understanding of what is texture in music.

Round or Canon – the same melody that starts at different points by another voice or instrument.

Fugue – a piece of polyphonic music where each line has a turn at the main theme, then returns to accompany the main theme.

Unison– the same melody performed by several voices or instruments at the same pitch.

Doubling – the same melody either performed by two different instruments in unison OR two similar instruments an octave apart.

Another way to discuss the different layers of sound, or how each musical line contributes to what is texture in the music, is to know in what direction each line is going. Below are some texture terms and definitions to help you.

Similar Motion – two melodic lines with the same melodic contour.

Parallel Motion – two melodic lines with the same melodic contour.

Contrary Motion – two melodic lines that move in opposite directions.

Counterpoint – A type of polyphonic music where each line has its own melody and moves independently of other instruments OR voices.

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