In order to be able to talk and communicate about music we need words to describe what's present in the sound. This is about facts. Hearing what is to be heard and putting that adequately into words.

Musical sound can be described in terms of parameters.

NB This process of describing needs to be embedded in the general impression of form/structure and texture of the music.

Texture is about the relation between different parts/voices in a composition; the "fabric" or "weave" of the sound. Often there is a certain "casting" of participants: (melody with accompaniment, combination of melodic lines, secondary voices/parts, imitation, sequencing and so on).

Parameters of musical sound are the following:

  1. PITCH (melody, harmony)
  2. DURATION (pulse, metre, rythm)
  4. COLOR (timbre)
  5. LENGTH (articulation)


  • used pitches: key, mode, ...?
  • range: small (≤ octave, > octave, several octaves)?
  • (shape of) melody: steps,  leaps, phrasing (grouping)?
  • harmony
  • tonal, modal, atonal, free tonality ...?
  • dominating color of sounds: interval comibinations, triads, seventh chords, clusters, sound fields, multichords?


  • is there a beat/pulse or tactus ?
  • binary , ternary?
  • simple, composed?
  • regular - irregular?


  • little - much change in: loud-soft, cresc. - decresc., ...? 


  • instrumentation?
  • bright - dark?
  • sharp - round?
  • many different colors or homogeneous sound or "blending"?


  • staccato, portato, legato, ...?
  • accents/prosody (stressed/not stressed)?