Music Basics

Characteristics of Sound (Levitan, 2006) (tiybom ch 2)

Pitch -the actual and relative frequency of a vibration.

Timbre - texture or 'tonal colour' based on overtones.

Loudness - a psychological construct of the amount of energy created by an instrument.

Reverberation - perception of distance or "echo"

Rhythm - durations of a series of notes & their grouping into units.

Tempo - the overall speed or pace of a song

Levitan (2006) discusses psychophysics (the interaction of the brain and sense to produce something other than what is given in experience). These characteristics are found in the "higher-order" concepts of :

Meter - based on rhythm and loudness - get groupings (i.e. 4/4 (1& 3 or 2&4) or 3/4 (waltz).

Key - hierarchy of importance of notes based upon patterns (major, minor etc.) see scales.

Melody - main musical theme of a song - usually has general pattern to it in repetition (aaba).

Harmony - a complementary pattern to the melody offers support and texture to he melody.

Contour - The overall shape of a musical piece (the ups and downs) of the sound.


Western Scales

Virtual Keyboard Frequencies and ranges

12 note scale broken into
 7 note forms

Major Scales Minor Chromatic


Cycle of Fifths

Coltrane's fromYAL


The golden Ratio