is the simplest of textures
, consisting of melody
without accompanying harmony
. This may be realized as just one note
at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave
(such as often when men and women sing together). If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in unison
, it is also said to be in monophony. Music in which all the notes sung are in unison is called monophonic. Musical texture
is determined in song and music by varying different components. Songs intersperse monophony, heterophony
, or monody
elements throughout the melody to create atmosphere and style. Monophony may also have a complex rhythmic
element, as when percussion accompanies a melody in some types of Chinese
According to Adris Butterfield (1997), monophony "is the dominant mode of the European vernacular genres as well as of Latin song [...] in polyphonic works, it remains a central compositional principle." Polyphony has two or more independent melodic voices. Monophony is one voice in music rather like a soliloquy.
with its single unaccompanied vocal melody is one of the principal examples of monophony. Sung by multiple voices in unison (i.e. the same pitch and rhythm), this music is still considered monophonic. Plainsong
was the first and foremost musical style of Italy
, Ireland, Spain, and France.
Monophony with instrumental doubling
DeLone et al. (1975, p.99) more loosely defines monophony as "passages, movements, or sections in which notes sound alone, despite instrumental doubling" even if "such passages may involve several instruments or voices."
, Byzantine Chant
, Beneventan chant
, Ambrosian chant
, Gregorian chant
and others were various forms of Medieval music
which were all monophonic. Many of these monophonic chants were written as the first sheet music
and preserved in hand written manuscripts and bound. Dodecachordon
was published by the Swiss Renaissance composer Heinrich Glarean
(also Glareanus) and included plainsong
or Gregorian chant
and monophony. . Guido d'Arezzo
wrote the 'Micrologus', which identified musical symbols. Later, Petrus de Cruce
was the founding father of the notational system
. The Roman Catholic Church adopted the Gregorian chant as early as AD 70 and this unaccompanied sacred song is still used for worship.
Music of India
Indian classical music
is an ancient form of music therapy where monophonic melodies called ragas are played to activate "chakras" (Chi energy wheels) to attain realization on the Kundalini
yogic path. Drone
instruments, are followed by the soloist, then accompanists and percussionists.
- ''For more information see also Music history of India.
Troubador song monophony
songs were monophonic. Aristocratic troubadours and trouvères played religious devotion in courtly performances for kings, queens, and countesses. Guillaume de Machaut
, poet and composer in the 14th century produced many songs which can be seen as extensions of the Provençal
Troubador tradition, such as his secular monophonic lais and virelais. Jehan de Lescurel
(or Jehannot de l'Escurel), poet and composer northern French Trouvère
) also wrote monophonic songs in the style of virelais, ballades, rondeaux and diz entés. Minnesänger
were similar to the French style but in Middle High German.
Lutheran Church chorale
Monophony was the first type of texture in the Lutheran Church Hymn or chorale
, which became polyphonic around 1524.
Geisslerlieder or Flagellant songs
, or Flagellant songs were monophonic Laude spirituale
songs used in the 13th and 17th century by flagellants, and recorded in the medieval chronicle Chronicon Hugonis sacerdotis de Rutelinga
- Ardis Butterfield (1997). "Monophonic song: questions of category", Companion to Medieval & Renaissance Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-816540-4.
- Copland, Aaron. "What to Listen for in Music". Published by Signet Classic, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY, 10014. Library of Congress catalogue 98-53893.
- DeLone et al. (Eds.) (1975). Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-049346-5.