Musical Texture – 3 examples with counterpoint

In this blog I will be talking about 3 different pieces of music and their contrapuntal elements along with texture and the specefic areas in which counterpoint occurs in the song, this should also cover styles and elements of three different artists. The three artists I have chosen are:

– Bjork: Crystalline, this was chosen due to its abstract texture and then at 4:18 in the track it completely changes into a breakbeat changing it rhythmically.

– John Coltrane: Interstellar Space, this is due to the instrumentation, it’s easier to explain the contrapuntal texture to it’s limitation but also a nice contrast from my first choice.

– Plini: Heart, the instrumentation makes it accesible and easy to pick out the devices that make the song what it is, also a contrast from the other two, although it’s another instrumental piece it’s key changes are more apparent due to it’s genre, whereas the Coltrane track has more jazz involved this has a more major/ pentatonic feel when the solos are playing. Coltrane uses more Melodic minor whereas Plini have more more intruments to be concerned about especially when soloing so the sense of free jazz isn’t in the track, the improvisation isn’t actually the same.

Okay then, in the video above you’ll start with the glockenspiel and a form of homphonic contrapuntal texture due to the way the vocals are being accompanied by the instruments there are polyphonic/contrapuntal elements with glock ostinato parts and certainly with the jungle breakbeat at the end creating rhythmic counterpoint. 4:18 in the track introduces a more rhythmic counterpoint into the song which completely differs from the song, as this is my first choice the comparison between the other two is apparent due to the amount of change inbetween that point at 4:18 and the instrumentation. Genre affiliation would be breakcore at 4:18 but as Icelandic pop goes I’d say the genre is just Bjork!

Seconds away! an as we start with the ridiculous experimental drums then comes in Coltrane with the melody, this would be monophonic contrapuntal texture due to the one melody playing whereas the counterpoint exits between the constant changes and shapes of both drums and saxophone. The genre being free jazz is music without the boundaries of specific time and key (yes if the un – virtuoustic play then it really does terrible) this is probably the pinnacle and the final accolade of music where two musicians really can play something of such complexity without boundaries and make an entire album from it.

Start with just a monophonic riff but adds with a heterophony feel, as the song progresses I felt to name it as homophony pretty much throughout, what’s cool to see is in their solo’s they keep to the same top major scale and pentatonic melodies much like I do in my soloing, there is a touch of polyphony, i.e. a contrapuntal device at 1:31 when the guitar solos against the main melody.
So learning this song wouldn’t be too difficult as it really isn’t on Coltranes playing level, the contrast between this and the the other two is that it doesn’t rely on a vocal melody being the priority stripping the thought of Homophony and due to the instrumentation it can’t be monophonic so already from a  contrapuntal texture angle it differs completely from the other two. With the scales used too it differs;

Coltrane – Melodic minor, free jazz

Plini – Major/ Pentatonic minor, key changes – adds the modulation into solo (gives it more flavour)

Bjork – bass + glockenspiel just using riffs throughout, vocal doing the majority of melody

So hopefully I’ve discussed and cleared three different types of contrapuntal textures along with examples and used those textures to show the difference between the genre.

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