Music Theory
Acoustic Composition
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How can we use texture creatively?

As we continue to learn more techniques used by composers, it becomes possible for us to use these techniques for a purpose or specific musical goal like portraying a certain emotion, telling a story, or expressing an idea to the listener. Music that is written to tell a story in this way is often called “Programmatic Music”.

In the following example we’ll take a look at a programmatic piece that uses texture to tell a story.

  • (0:00 – 0:14) Our story begins with a lone character, played by the soprano saxophone tells a story. Notice the use of a monophonic texture and silence to create a sense of isolation.
  • (0:14 – 0:26) Our character meets with a group and tells their story to the group while the group listens and responds. Here a homophonic texture is combined with a call and response between the soprano and alto saxophones.
  • (0:26 – 0:44) Then the leader of the group, played by the alto saxophone, starts and argument with our character. The call and response between the soprano and alto saxophones continue, but the tenor and baritone saxophones play a more rhythmic accompaniment figure that gives the music a little more energy.
  • (0:44 – 0:55) After the argument reaches its peak a member of the group, played by the baritone saxophone, calls out to the group and settles the argument. Notice how the texture shifts from monophony to homophony as the baritone saxophone calls and the other saxophones answer.
  • (0:55 – 1:05) The argument is settled and the group functions together again in unison. The texture here shifts back to monophony and remains monophonic to the end of the piece.