Musical Texture in Country Music

Musical texture represents how musical lines relate to one another.  The different textures consist of one of the most important ways on how music is completed.  Everyone experiences listening to these different textures throughout their everyday life, however, most of the time people don’t even realize it.  The world created monophonic, homophonic, polyphonic, heterophonic, and antiphonic musical textures specifically so that people could understand what the music that they listen to is consisted of.  All of these textures have different combinations of voices and instruments that compose of music.  Country songs are an excellent way to demonstrate the different musical textures that the world has, and how they are used.


Monophonic texture is when a single line dominates.  Two examples are one person whistling, or a group of people singing a song together without harmonies or instruments.  According to Grove music online, “music for a single voice or part, for example plainchant and unaccompanied solo song.”   Plainchant or plainsong was the earliest recorded in Christian monophony.  It was the first musical style of Ireland, Spain, Italy, and France.  Finding a monophonic example in country music was not simple.  However, in the song Like My Dog, by Billy Currington, the last 15 seconds is of Billy laughing and a dog barking.  Neither of these two sounds follow the harmony that was set for this song in anyway, therefore, this makes the last part of the song monophonic since only the laugh and the bark dominate.


Homophonic texture is when one line predominates.  An example of this would be a singer accompanied by a guitar, or strumming chords.  Mid-South Community College Shared Learning Objects stated that, “Homophonic is the texture we encounter most often.  It consists of a single dominating melody that is accompanied by chords.”  Homophony has appeared in many non-western cultures.  Some of these places are; West Africa, Eastern Indonesia, and China.  The most popular music styles that someone can encounter homophonic texture are rock, folk, country, and jazz.  People are able to identify homophonic texture in the song Back To December (Acoustic), by Taylor Swift.  Throughout the entire song, only the guitar is accompanying her, no other musical instruments.  Taylors voice is what predominates over her guitar.


Polyphonic is when there are two or more independent lines, as opposed to music with only one voice dominant voice accompanied by instruments.  An example of this is two different people singing on top of one another, however neither of these singers predominate the other with instruments behind them.  According to Music Education, “During the Renaissance, the church has less power over musical activity.  Instead, the Kings, Princes and other prominent members of the courts had more influence.  The size of church choirs grew and with it more voice parts were added, which created music that was richer and fuller.  Polyphony was widely used during tis period, but soon, music also became homophonic.”  The song Don’t You Wanna Stay by Kelly Clarkson, and Jason Aldean, homophonic texture is used.  When the chorus plays both of their voices are heard and they are singing along with each other to the same melody.  What makes this polyphonic is the fact that when both of them sing the chorus neither one voice dominates the other.


Heterophonic texture in music is multiple interpretations of the same melody.  It is a type of texture that has many variations of a single line.  More of a complex monophony in which there is only one basic melody, but at the same time multiple voices are play the melody differently.  The use of this texture is actually really popular throughout the world.  It is often a feature of non-Western music.  An example of heterophonic texture is in the song Lookin’ For A Good Time by Lady Antebellum.  Throughout the song, there are different times when both of the vocalists are singing different parts but they go along with the melody.


Antiphonic texture in music is when two or more voices interact.  This can be described as call and response.  An example of this is a leader singing to his group and his group responding with the same melody.  Anitphonic texture can be useful in demonstrating a separation between two different groups.  This texture is very common texture.  An example of this is in the song Take Me There, by Rascal Flatts.  At the end of the song, the leader is dominating the song with lyrics, however in the background the backup singers are following him with the same melody, but with different lyrics that the dominate singer is singing.


Musical texture surrounds the world everyday.  People do not realize that every song that they listen to whether in the car on the way to work, or listening to an iPod while working out, every song has a certain musical texture.




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One Response to Musical Texture in Country Music

  1. Meredith Didlake says:

    It is very interesting to me that you chose to identify the different musical textures using only country music. It is sometimes hard to determine which texture is being used in modern day pop music like the examples you chose, but when I listened to the video clips the textures were embedded in each like you described. You are right that people do not even realize what complexity in texture is occurring while they listen to music daily. I have added definitions and some examples that I would pick to help clarify and identify these types of musical textures below.

    Monophonic- simple texture, melody without harmony

    The trumpet is playing the military American tune, “Taps” without any accompaniment. It is obvious that there is only one melody.

    Homophonic- two or more parts moving together rhythmically in harmony

    In this clip you will notice that there are four parts singing together in harmony. This style of music is called barbershop and is often homophonic.

    Polyphonic- two or more independent melodies

    Singing in a “round” is the perfect example of polyphony because two or more melodies are occurring at the same time.

    Heterophonic- variations of a single melodic line

    Notice in this recording of The New York Voices that after the intro, the female soloist sings her interpretation of the melody and then the other vocalists “respond” to what she is doing by singing their own interpretations of the melody together.

    Antiphonic- call and response style (leader and congregation)

    In this recording of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue the instruments play back and forth in the call and response pattern often found in jazz.

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