Compositional Techniques

Compositional Elements & Techniques

  1. Canonic: imitative writing that is not strictly canon
  2. Counterpoint: two or more melodies that sound together
  3. Fantasia: (fantasy): free-ranging composition
  4. Fugato: fugue-like writing that is not strict fugue
  5. Homophony (sounding as one): a texture in which two or more parts move in the same rhythm
  6. Improvisation: a passage that gives the performer freedom to invent or manipulate content
  7. Ostinato (obstinate): a note or pattern of notes or rhythms repeated several times
  8. Parallel motion: occurs when two voices move up or down, keeping exactly the same pitch distance between them
  9. Polyphony (sounding of many): a texture in which two or more parts have different rhythms
  10. Polytempo: two or more tempi occurring simultaneously
  11. Polytonal: two or more tonalities (keys) occuring simultaneously
  12. Recitative: speech-like, telling a story; the term comes from sections of opera in which the rhythm of the music follows speech patterns
  13. Similar Motion: When two voices move up or down at the same time but not necessarily parallel to each other
  14. Tone Row: series or set; refers to a non-repetitive ordering of a set of pitches
  15. Twelve tone row: all twelve tones must be used before any one of them can be repeated