Music Theory
Acoustic Composition
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What exactly is Heterophony?

Heterophony is a texture that is more common outside of the European musical tradition. While it does occasionally appear in classical music, it occurs often in many other cultures in the world.

Heterophony is the result of two or more musicians performing a single melody with differing ornaments, tempi, or rhythm. In many cases these differences are improvised. Below is an example of L’abe igi orombo with a heterophonic texture.

To create this texture each the bass voice was given a very simplified melody with roughly the same contour as the original. The tenor voice plays a line consisting mostly of eighth notes that follow the melody, but makes use of neighbor and passing tones. The alto has a more rhythmically intricate line that has mostly sixteenth notes and some eighth note triplets with similar use of neighbor and passing tones. During all of this the soprano plays the original melody.