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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

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
is this allso about nanoscale material
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where is the latest information on a no technology how can I find it
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
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
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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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