Basic Elements of Music

Elements of Music

Before we start on the adventurous journey of music theory, let us go through the common elements  & terminologies of music. Knowing them would make studying the subsequent articles more comfortable.


Notes are the raw material of the music. Every sound that we hear is a note & every music we hear is a combination of various notes. Every note is determined by the pitch. There are 7 standard musical notes & each of them has a  different frequency & pitch. However, there are a total of 12 notes per octave ( A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, & G#).


The distance between the two pitches is known as an interval. For example, consider two keys next to each other in a piano. If you consider the first key of the piano to be note C, the next one should be C#. In that case, the interval between the two notes is 1 semitone. Similarly, the interval between the note C & D is 2 semitone or 1 tone. We will learn this in a more detailed structure when we study the Cycle of Notes.


A scale can be defined as the sequence of different notes on which the structure of the song is built. It acts as a boundary for the song; that is, if you are playing or composing a tune on a particular scale, you can only use the notes included in the specific scale. More simply, scales provide the raw material (notes) for the song.


When multiple notes are played at the same time, a chord is formed. But practically, chords are mostly made up of three notes or ‘triads’ as we call them.


 Scales, formed with a rule of intervals originated from a single ‘note’ is called a ‘Key.’ Most people confuse the note with the key.  Simply, let me take an example. A  note can be any of the above discussed 12 notes(Let us consider C). However, a key will be the rule of the interval of that note, i.e., C major, C minor, etc. This might sound confusing. However, we will discuss more on this in the subsequent articles.


Rythym is the element of time in music. When you are tapping your foot or even clapping with a song, you are actually keeping the beat or following a rhythmic structure pulse. Rhythm is an essential element in the song structure. It enhances the feel & emotion of the song.


Melody is the vertical or horizontal presentation of the pitch of the song. In other words, it is the sequence of the highness  & lowness of the subsequent pitches/notes, which gives a soothing effect yo our ears.


Harmony can be defined as the verticalization of the pitch. It is the combination of music notes played simultaneously to produce a pleasing effect in our ears. For example, a piece of music accompanied by a chord progression of the same key shall create a beautiful harmony that would be very pleasing to our ears.

We have covered most of the necessary components & elements in music. I hope you got an overview of the each of the components. We shall study more of these in detail in the subsequent articles.

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