If you are someone who studies music, then you either study the Concepts in Music or the Elements of Music. Essentially, all musical ideas are the same, it’s just that some are grouped differently under the Concepts of Music. The 6 Concepts of Music are, in alphabetical order Duration, Dynamics & Expressive Techniques, Pitch, Structure, Texture and Tone Colour.
If you are looking for more information on the Elements of Music, click here to read and learn more, but if you are looking to learn about each of the Concepts in Music, read on!
For each of the 6 Concepts in Music, you will be given specific musical ideas to focus on for when you are writing about the concepts of music in a critical and analytical way.
The Concepts in Music and their Definitions
Below you will find concepts of music definitions, as well as links to more detailed content for each of the 6 Concepts in Music that you might be studying in your music appreciation lessons. There is no order of importance for each of the 6 Concepts in Music, they information will be presented alphabetically. You can start you journey for learning about the concepts of music with any of the concepts you choose.
Concepts in Music – Duration
A basic concept in music definition for Duration is – how long or short a sound is. This Concept of Music is closely related to the Element of Music – Rhythm. (link to post here) If you are studying a piece of music and are analysing how the music uses Duration, then there are few musical ideas that you need to consider. These include – Time Signature, Ostinatos, Tempo, Accents, Length of Notes, Beat, Phrasing and Rhythm. Each of these will be explained in another blog post, but if you want to learn a little more now, watch the video linked below.
Concepts in Music – Dynamics and Expressive Techniques
This Concept in Music has two main parts. One is Dynamics, and the other is Expressive Techniques. Together though, they include many of the Italian terms that are used music to describe the different ways that composers and musicians add to the music to show expression and emotion.
Dynamics refers to how loud or soft a piece of music is played.
Expressive Techniques refers to the type of performance technique or articulation that an instrument uses in the music to add embellishment, ornamentation, and interest to their part.
For this Concept in Music, there are several main musical ideas to listen for – Dynamics, Instruments, Range, Role and Register, Expressive Techniques, Changes (to tempo and dynamics) and lastly Tempo. Each of these will be explained in greater detail in an upcoming blog post, but you can watch the video below to get a better understanding of what to listen for while discussing this Concept in Music. Don’t forget you can get a FREE copy of the Mind Maps used in the video, follow the link here.
Concepts in Music – Pitch
One of the biggest differences between the Concepts in Music and the Elements of Music is that for the concepts of music Pitch encompasses the three Elements of Music – Melody, Harmony, and Tonality. To read more on each of these, use the links below.
A simple definition of Pitch in music is the height or depth of sound. This refers to the pitched notes being performed by an instrument, and the role that the instrument is performing in the music. When listening to a piece of music and analysing the use of Pitch in the music, there are several main musical ideas to listen for, these are – Melody, Ornamentation, Range, Role and Register, Phrasing and Harmony. You can watch the video below to help you get a better understanding of what to include in your analysis of Pitch in a piece of music below.
Concepts in Music – Structure
Structure or Form in music is the same in both the Concepts of Music and the Elements of Music. A simple definition for this Concept is the order and arrangement of the different parts of the music. If you would like to read the blog post on Structure, use the link here.
When discussing the Concept in Music of Structure, there are a several main musical ideas that you need to listen for to give a complete analysis of the music you are studying. These include – Type, Range, Role and Register, Identify the Instruments, Phrasing, Ostinatos and Diagram. Watch the video below to see this being explained in more detail.
Concepts in Music – Texture
Like Structure, Texture is another Concept of Music that is the same as the Element of Music. Texture in Music refers to the number of instruments or voices that contribute to the overall density of the music. The number of instruments performing at any given time in the music, and their relationship to one another in terms of the roles they perform, determine the thickness of the sound as well as the type of Texture being performed.
When listening to a piece of music and discussing the use of Texture, there are four things you need to discuss in your response, these are – Density, Identify the instruments, the type of “Phony” being used and a Diagram.
To get a deeper understanding of this, you can either read more here, or watch the video below.
Concepts in Music – Tone Colour
The Concept of Music Tone Colour is like the Element of Music – Timbre. You can read more about Timbre here. Tone Colour refers to the instruments used in a piece of music, how they are classified, the performance techniques used as well as the unique sound quality of the instrument in the music.
When listening to a piece of music, and studying the concept of Tone Colour, the main musical ideas that you should focus on include to firstly Identify the Instruments. Once you have identified the instruments in the music, the next step, for each instrument heard is to Classify, Explain, Describe and state their Range, Role and Register.
Sometimes, the Concept of Music Tone Colour can be called other names. These include Performing Media, Sound Sources and Pitch material.
Watch the video below to help you see this information be explained in further detail.
Concepts in Music – Other Types of Questions
If you are studying the Concepts in Music, then often you will find that you might be asked to discuss and analyse a piece of music using all the Concepts of Music through the lens of different musical ideas. These include comparing two versions of the same piece of music, discussing the similarities and differences.
Other types of questions that you might be asked to discuss how the Concepts of Music are used in a piece of music include – Unity, Variety, Interest, Contrast, Tension and Climax. With these types of questions there is a lot to consider in your analysis. To help you with these sorts of questions, you can either try to focus on a single main musical idea from each Concept OR you can use the following main musical ideas to help you listen with focus, please note that you do not need to discuss every single one of these, but only those that are relevant to the music – Melody, Range, Role and Register, Structure, Harmony, Identify, Phrasing, Dynamics, Ostinatos, Ornamentation, Texture, Time Signature, Techniques and Tempo.
Watch the video below to see these musical ideas explained further to help you gain a better understanding.
Why are the Concepts in Music Important?
The Concepts in Music are important for many reasons, especially as a music student, musician, or composer. By having a deep understanding of the Concepts in Music and how they are used either in the music you are listening to or the music you are playing or composing, you can use the Concepts to help you improve.
As a musician or performer, you can use the Concepts of Music to critically look at the music you are performing and look for ways to help you add to your performances. For example, to create variety in a piece of music you could focus on just Pitch. How is the melody being played? Can it be changed by adding some ornamentation, by changing roles in the ensemble, or by changing the height of the melody up or down an octave? This is just one example of the many different ways you could be analysing the music you perform to become a better musician.
As a composer, using the Concepts of Music in a critical way can also help you to improve the music you are writing. For example, by just focussing on the Concept of Dynamics and Expressive Techniques you could be looking for ways to add dynamics to the music or how can the instruments use expressive techniques to create the sound or mood you want in the music?
If you would like to learn more about the Concepts of Music, then go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store where you can purchase the Concepts of Music Bundle. Everything you need to know about the Concepts of Music is included with an in-depth study of each Concept in Music as well as examples of how to write about music in a critical and analytical way for the HSC Music Aural Exam. Click here to check out the Writing About the Concepts of Music Bundle here.
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Until next time
Julia from Jooya