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Encyclopedia of Microtonal Music Theory

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homophony / homophonic

[Joe Monzo]

A style of musical composition in which various simultaneous 'lines' have notes whose start-times and durations are more-or-less the same but whose pitches are different. The harmony is thus felt to change simultaneously among several different voices (usually all except the 'melody').

The desideratum of the homophonic style is usually that the harmonic relationships between simultaneous pitches be low-integer ratios (or close approximations to them).

Homophony is unique to European popular and art-music and other styles derived from it. It probably developed first in undocumented songs of the troubadors and trouvères (c. 1300), and its earliest documented flowering occurred as a result of the invention of opera (c. 1600). It came to greatest prominence during the 'classical' period (c. 1700-1900), and is today the most common style used in popular music.

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