polyphony


polyphony
polyphonous, adj.polyphonously, adv.
/peuh lif"euh nee/, n.
1. Music. polyphonic composition; counterpoint.
2. Phonet. representation of different sounds by the same letter or symbol.
[1820-30; < Gk polyphonía variety of tones. See POLY-, -PHONY]

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music
      in music, strictly speaking, any music in which two or more tones sound simultaneously (the term derives from the Greek word for “many sounds”); thus, even a single interval made up of two simultaneous tones or a chord of three simultaneous tones is rudimentarily polyphonic. Usually, however, polyphony is associated with counterpoint, the combination of distinct melodic lines. In polyphonic music, two or more simultaneous melodic lines are perceived as independent even though they are related. In Western music polyphony typically includes a contrapuntal separation of melody and bass. A texture is more purely polyphonic, and thus more contrapuntal, when the musical lines are rhythmically differentiated. A subcategory of polyphony, called homophony, exists in its purest form when all the voices or parts move together in the same rhythm, as in a texture of block chords. These terms are by no means mutually exclusive, and composers from the 16th through the 21st centuries have commonly varied textures from complex polyphony to rhythmically uniform homophony, even within the same piece.

      Polyphony, the opposite of monophony (one voice, such as chant (Gregorian chant)), is the outstanding characteristic that differentiates Western art music from the music of all other cultures. The special polyphony of ensembles in Asian music includes a type of melodic variation, better described as heterophony, that is not truly contrapuntal in the Western sense.

Mark DeVoto
 

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Polyphony — Po*lyph o*ny, n. [Gr. ?.] 1. Multiplicity of sounds, as in the reverberations of an echo. [1913 Webster] 2. Plurality of sounds and articulations expressed by the same vocal sign. [1913 Webster] 3. (Mus.) Composition in mutually related, equally… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • polyphony — (n.) 1828, multiplicity of sounde, from Gk. polyphonia variety of sounds, from polys many (see POLY (Cf. poly )) + phone voice, sound (see FAME (Cf. fame)). The meaning counterpoint (1864) is perhaps a back formation from the adjective …   Etymology dictionary

  • polyphony — [pə lif′ə nē] n. [Gr polyphōnia: see POLY & PHONY] 1. multiplicity of sounds, as in an echo 2. Music a combining of a number of independent but harmonizing melodies, as in a fugue or canon; counterpoint 3. Phonet. the representation of two or… …   English World dictionary

  • Polyphony — This article is about the musical texture. For the feature of electronic instruments, see Polyphony (instrument). For the feature of texts, see Polyphony (literature). For the choir, see Polyphony (choir). For the company, see Polyphony Digital.… …   Wikipedia

  • Polyphony —    The art of combining simultaneous melodies, the hallmark of Western music (excluding the non melodic drones of some Byzantine chant and Hindu music). It is believed that polyphony originated as an improvisation technique, a means of… …   Historical dictionary of sacred music

  • polyphony — polyphonie фр., нем. [полифони/] polyphonia англ. [полифо/ниа] polyphony [поли/фэни] полифония …   Словарь иностранных музыкальных терминов

  • polyphony —   n. Music, composition in separate, but simultaneous and harmonizing, parts; counterpoint; Phonetics, use of one symbol for several sounds.    ♦ polyphonic, a.    ♦ polyphonist, n. composer of polyphony …   Dictionary of difficult words

  • polyphony — polyphonic ► ADJECTIVE 1) having many sounds or voices. 2) Music (especially of vocal music) in two or more parts each having a melody of its own; contrapuntal. DERIVATIVES polyphony noun (pl. polyphonies) . ORIGIN from Greek polu many + ph n …   English terms dictionary

  • polyphony — noun Etymology: Greek polyphōnia variety of tones, from polyphōnos having many tones or voices, from poly + phōnē voice more at ban Date: circa 1864 a style of musical composition employing two or more simultaneous but relatively independent… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • polyphony — См. polifonìa …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов


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