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date: 19 February 2020

Homophony (from Gk. homophonia: ‘sounding alike’)locked

  • Brian Hyer


(from Gk. homophonia: ‘sounding alike’)

Polyphonic music in which all melodic parts move together at more or less the same pace. A further distinction is sometimes made between homophonic textures that are homorhythmic (ex.1) and those in which there is a clear differentiation between melody and accompaniment (ex.2). In the latter case all the parts – whether melodic soprano, supporting bass, or accompanimental inner parts – work together to articulate an underlying succession of harmonies. Homophonic music balances the melodic conduct of individual parts with the harmonies that result from their interaction, but one part – often but not always the highest – usually dominates the entire texture. While in principle the same basic precepts govern the melodic behaviour of all the parts, in practice the treble tends to be more active than the others and to have a wider ambitus, and while conjunct motion is the rule in upper voices, leaps are common and sometimes even prevalent in the bass. Inner parts are used to fill in between the two outer voices, which form the contrapuntal framework of the music....

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