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Bruckner maintains the contour but varies the details in this soft statement by the French Horn:

This climactic statement by the brass includes one extra push upward:

Let’s recall the theme Nicolo Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 for solo violin , this time in a playful orchestration by Witold Lutoslawski.

One of the identifiable features of Paganin’s theme is that its contour rollicks up and down predictably. In this variation, Lutoslawski scrubs away the melodic and rhythmic details, leaving only the contour. Paganini’s theme is recognizable by its shape.

Often, melodies can be analyzed as being made up of one or more motives. The opening theme of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata in E, Opus 109 is made of a short-long motive. The motive alternates direction, first going up and then going down.

The opening theme of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 is similar: It is also made of a short-long motive. Whereas Beethoven’s motive flipped up and down in quick alternation, Shostakovich’s motive is repeated before changing direction.

Thus, the contour of a melody, as well as the primary motives with which it is made, help to identify it.


Whereas melody is generally described as music’s horizontal dimension , harmony is its vertical dimension : It refers to sounds sounding together. Like rhythm and melody, harmony is often an essential part of musical identity.

An individual harmony is called a chord . A succession of chords that creates a complete harmonic statement is called a progression .

The slow movement of Felix Mendelssohn’s Cello Sonata No. 2 opens with a long harmonic progression played by the piano alone.

Later, the progression is replayed in its entirety. This time, the cello adds a ruminative melodic line.

Thus, the harmonic progression is essential to the music’s identity.

Similarly, Richard Strauss’ song Morgen similarly opens with an extended harmonic progression, played by the piano alone. As the voice concludes her first phrase, the progression is replayed, this time with a soaring vocal line. Once again, the harmonic progression is essential to the music’s identity. As you listen to the excerpt, you will notice that the progression deviates at the end: Rather than closing conclusively, Strauss substitutes a suspensive chord that leads to the next section.

Whereas one pitch or one rhythmic attack is not enough to create a motive, a harmonic motif can be created by just one chord . Richard Wagner’s monumental opera Tristan und Isolde is unified by a single harmony—the so-called “Tristan chord.” It reappears obsessively throughout the four-hour drama, constantly resolving in different ways.

Wagner saves one of the most poignant resolutions for the final one.

In his Chamber Symphony, opus 9 , Schoenberg uses a non-traditional chord as a structural signpost, heralding the beginning of new sections.

The final time this chord appears, Schoenberg turns it upside down:

Thus, harmony—from entire progressions to individual chords—may be an essential component of musical identity.

Pitch content

Pitch content —the notes that make up a theme—may be an important element of musical identity.

In classical music, the pitch content of themes is drawn either from the Major or minor scales or modes. Because of its acoustic properties, the Major scale is more resonant and “brighter”; the minor scale projects less strongly and is considered more “somber.” The opposition between Major and minor is one of the strongest contrasts of tonal music: Although mood is always subjective, music in Major is more often associated with emotions such as joy, triumph and calm, whereas minor is typically associated with emotions such as sadness, anger and mourning. You’re unlikely to find a wedding march in minor or a lament in Major.

Here is a sampling of music in Major.

Here is a sampling of music in minor.

Twentieth century music features much more diversity in pitch content. Claude Debussy’s Voiles is based on the whole-tone scale: Unlike the Major and minor scales, the whole-tone scale consists only of evenly spaced steps.

Bela Bartok’s Chromatic Invention from Mikokosmos, Book III is based on a more clustered collection of notes.

In Krystof Penderecki’s Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima , the pitches are even more densely packed.

Timbre and texture

Timbre and texture can also contribute to a theme’s signature. A classical music devotee needs only to hear the sound of sleigh bells at the Symphony to recognize “Mahler 4”.

Later in the movement, the sound of the sleigh bells alludes to the main theme.

The opening theme of the second movement of Maurice Ravel’s String Quartet is played by a striking texture of plucked strings.

Later in the movement, just the sound of plucked strings is enough to evoke the opening theme. Further hints of the theme’s identity are sprinkled into the texture, until the theme returns with full force.

Twentieth century composers were particularly adventurous about exploring new sounds and instrumental combinations. For instance, John Cage invented the prepared piano by inserting screws, erasers, thumb-tacks and other objects inside the piano. The prepared piano’s unique timbre is part and parcel of the identity of this work.


Leonardo da Vinci investigated human anatomy in order to understand how better to draw a human figure. We have explored the anatomy of a musical idea. To Da Vinci, the human form was made of skin, bone, muscle and blood. To us, a musical idea consists of rhythm, melody, harmony, pitch content and instrumental color.

Questions & Answers

what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sound reasoning. OpenStax CNX. May 31, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10214/1.21
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