Tag Archives: timbre

Texture – Timbre & Instrumental Techniques

So what does texture mean? 

“In music, texture is the way the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition, therefore determining the overall quality of sound of a piece. Texture is often described in regards to the density, or thickness, and range…..A piece’s texture may be affected by the number and character of parts playing at once, the timbre of the instruments or voices playing these parts and the harmony, tempo, and rhythms used.”

One way to develop texture is to vary the instrumental timbre (the instrumental “tone or colour”). For example, if you have a guitar part you could create textural contrast by using a mix of:

  • picking, strumming, double-stops, palm muting and FX (distortion, delay/echo, reverb, wah-wah)

These are all ways to develop your texture by changing the instrumental timbre.

To consider how you might use a range of instrumental timbre to develop texture in composing we are going to look at string instruments :

1. Use the Texture Garageband project created during last week’s lessons
2. Create FOUR new software instrument tracks
3. Choose the following instruments:

  • Xtra String Ens Legato
  • Xtra String Ens Pizzicato
  • Xtra String Ens Staccato
  • Xtra String Ens Tremolo

Use these instruments to create at least TWO contrasting accompaniment’s to your melody. You can use the same harmony but make sure that it expressed differently.

For example the first four bars might use legato strings playing long held block chords.

The second contrasting four bar section might use staccato strings with broken chords (but using the same chords as sections one).

Timbre keywords

instruments and voices singly and in combination as found in music for solo instruments concertos chamber groups pop and vocal music          acapella   String Quartet   Wind Chamber
generic families of instruments as found in world music (don’t look at Celtic or Gamelan on this link)
instrumental techniques including con arco/with a bow pizzicato/plucked con sordino/muted double-stopping tremolo/tremolando
vocal ranges and techniques such as falsetto and vibrato
music of the carribean
African music
Indian music
Music of the 1960’s
R ‘n’ B and Hip Hop
Musical Theatre
Samples, Loops

Watch and hear different instruments of the orchestra here