Tessitura

Tessitura is a term used to describe two things, both concerning pitches in a melody or portion of music. One aspect specifically describes the pitch range, for example from the lowest to highest note in a melody. The other aspect is the music’s overall pitch level, its register, such as mostly low sounding notes or mostly high sounding notes.

Pitch ranges and levels are relative and subjectively described. Terms like “narrow” and “wide” are used to describe pitch range. Music with a narrow tessitura has a small pitch range between the notes and music with a “wide” tessitura has more range between notes.

The general pitch level, the range in which most of the notes fall, may be described as “low”, “mid-range”, or “high”. Music in a low tessitura uses mostly low sounding notes. Music in a high tessitura uses mostly high sounding notes.

An example of the effect tessitura can have is the melody beginning Section B in Bahia Blanca. It is first heard played by bandoneons and has a low tessitura in terms of overall pitch level. The pitch range of the melody has a moderately spaced tessitura, just over an , neither narrow or wide.
Low tessitura Bahia Blanca, Section B, first 4 Bar Phrase, bars 17-20.

When the melody is repeated 8 bars later the tessitura is 2 s higher, played and harmonized by the strings and bandoneons. (The melody is the same, so the tessitura range is moderate).
Higher tessitura Bahia Blanca, Section B, third 4 Bar Phrase, bars 25-28.

Both change in tessitura and combine to create a very different mood. The first time we hear the melody, in the low tessitura, it is dark and subdued; the second time, in the higher tessitura, the music is bright and bold.

The word octave describes two things: most importantly, an octave is the same note 8 notes above or below a given note; "octave" may also be used to measure the range in a group or series of notes, as in "the melody's range is an octave"; meaning the distance between the lowest and highest notes is an octave, 8 notes apart.

Because octaves are the same note they have the same letter name. They are the same note in a different register and should be heard as "higher" or "lower", but not "different".

C in four octaves.


More information and the science behind why we hear octaves as the same note is here.

The word octave describes two things: most importantly, an octave is the same note 8 notes above or below a given note; "octave" may also be used to measure the range in a group or series of notes, as in "the melody's range is an octave"; meaning the distance between the lowest and highest notes is an octave, 8 notes apart.

Because octaves are the same note they have the same letter name. They are the same note in a different register and should be heard as "higher" or "lower", but not "different".

C in four octaves.


More information and the science behind why we hear octaves as the same note is here.

Texture is the overall "size" or "weight" of the musical sound, using descriptive terms such as "large", "thick", "full", or "thin", "sparse" or "light".

Many musical elements contribute to texture, including: the way notes in the harmonies are spread out into different octaves and instruments; whether different instrumental sections (strings, bandoneons, piano, bass) are playing simultaneously or alone; whether the sections are playing in unison (the same notes) or in harmony (playing chords).

More information and audio examples are available, here.

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