Music Tip #8    From Carol Worthey

How Does Music Resemble A Weaving?

Carol Worthey

A fabric is woven on a loom. Let's use the analogy of a simple loom, such as the Native American weavers have used for centuries. The horizontal element of the weaving is called the "woof." The strings of the loom that are up and down (vertical) are called the "warp." Interestingly enough, Life has been compared to a fabric, not solely in cotton ads. Music is heard as an unfolding weaving. Let me explain.

Melody can be defined as the horizontal aspect of music, single notes follow one after another, some higher or lower, some faster or slower, some louder or softer, yes, but still sensed by the listener as a horizontal element, much like the strong horizontal design in a weaving. Melody is what most people concentrate on when they listen. But are they missing part of the listening experience?

Underneath the melody (or "tune" as it is commonly called) is what one can think of as the vertical aspect of music, the harmonies which give a foundation of sound to the melody. Much like the fabric "cords" which form the vertical "warp" of the loom, chords form the underpinning of melody.

Try this experiment: Listen to your favorite piece of music. Imagine you are watching a fabric unfold. The melody (or melodies--several can be interweaving) can be imagined to be a vivid line (or lines) across a cloth. Use your imagination: Underneath the horizontal element of the tune are the cords (chords) of the fabric, the harmonies which support the melodic notes in the same way that columns support a roof. Be aware that, unlike the analogy of columns supporting a roof, the melody can have higher elements above it, tones that help fill in part of the harmony.

Listen as the musical weaving unfolds. You are hearing the fabric in a new way. May you never be the same again!

Next: Composing: Where Does The Music Come From?