Royalty Free Music since 2009

From Arpeggios to Overtone Singing: A List of 50 Music Techniques and Their Examples

The mastery of musical techniques is crucial in the intricate art of musical composition, performance, and production. These techniques serve as fundamental components, enabling artists to craft melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and textures that are capable of eliciting emotions and conveying narratives. 

The vast array of music genres, ranging from the ornate embellishments of Baroque music to the distorted guitar riffs of heavy metal, each possess their unique sets of techniques that distinctly define their auditory identity and style. The comprehension of these techniques and their implementation has the potential to intensify one’s admiration for music and stimulate the exploration of novel genres, as well as inspire the creation of personal compositions. Within this literary piece, we shall embark upon an exploration of some of the most frequently encountered and impactful music techniques, including their meanings, and their applications in diverse genres.

Musical Techniques

List of Musical Techniques and Definitions

We have created tables that list and define some of the most common and influential techniques. 

You can sort by name or simply search by the first 2 letters.

Arpeggio Broken chord where notes are played in sequence Classical, Pop, Rock
Cadence A harmonic progression that gives a sense of ending Classical, Jazz, Pop
Call and Response A musical conversation between two or more voices Blues, Gospel, Jazz
ChorusA repeated section of a song with a memorable melody Pop, Rock, Country
CounterpointTwo or more melodies played simultaneously Classical, Baroque, Jazz
CrescendoGradually increasing volume Classical, Film Music
Distortion A guitar effect that adds sustain and overdrive to the sound Rock, Metal, Punk
Double stop Playing two notes simultaneously on a string instrument Country, Blues, Rock
DroneA sustained note or chord Indian Classical, Ambient
FadingGradually reducing volume Pop, Rock, Electronic
Feedback A guitar effect where the sound from the amp is fed back into the guitar Rock, Experimental, Noise
GlissandoA sliding effect between two notes Classical, Jazz, Film Music
Harmony Two or more notes played together Pop, Rock, Country
HookA memorable musical phrase that is repeated throughout a song Pop, Rock, Hip-hop
Melisma Singing multiple notes on a single syllable R&B, Gospel, Pop
MelodyA memorable and recognizable musical line Pop, Rock, Classical
OstinatoA repeating musical pattern or phrase Classical, African, Pop
Palm Muting A guitar technique where the strings are muted with the palm Rock, Metal, Punk
Pedal point A sustained note that is played against changing harmonies Classical, Jazz, Rock
PolyrhythmThe use of multiple rhythms played simultaneously African, Latin, Jazz
Riff A repeated musical phrase or pattern Rock, Metal, Blues
Ritardando Gradually slowing down tempo Classical, Film Music, Jazz
Scatting Vocal improvisation using nonsense syllables Jazz, Blues, Soul
ShuffleA swing rhythm where the first note is longer than the second Blues, Jazz, Rock
Solo A section of a song where one instrument or voice takes the lead Jazz, Rock, Metal
StaccatoShort and separated notes Classical, Pop, Rock
SyncopationEmphasizing the offbeat or weak beats Jazz, Funk, Latin
TremoloRapidly repeating a note Classical, Pop, Rock
Trill Rapidly alternating between two adjacent notes Classical, Baroque, Jazz
Turnaround A chord progression used to transition to a new section Blues, Jazz, Rock
Vamp Repeating a short musical phrase to create tension Jazz, Funk, Soul
Vibrato Oscillating pitch to add expressiveness Classical, Pop, Rock
Walking bass A bassline that moves up or down in a steady rhythm Jazz, Blues, Rock
WaltzA musical form with a triple meter, often associated with dance music Classical, Folk, Pop
CanonA piece of music where voices imitate each other Classical, Baroque
Chromaticism Using notes that are outside of the key signature Classical, Jazz, Pop
Crescendo-Decrescendo Gradually increasing and then decreasing volume Classical, Film Music
Crossfade A transition between two songs or sections where they overlap Electronic, DJ mixes
DelayAn effect where a sound is repeated with a delay Electronic, Rock, Reggae
FalsettoA vocal technique where the singer uses a higher register than their normal voice Pop, R&B, Rock
Flanger An effect that creates a swirling sound Rock, Electronic, Pop
Form The structure of a piece of music Classical, Pop, Rock
Legato Smoothly connecting notes Classical, Jazz, Pop
ModulationChanging from one key to another Classical, Pop, Rock
Phrasing How a musician divides a melody into smaller phrases Jazz, Pop, Rock
Sampling Using a pre-existing sound recording in a new composition Hip-Hop, Electronic, Pop
BeatboxingCreating percussive sounds with the mouth and voice Hip hop, A cappella
Power chords A chord consisting of a root note and its fifth Rock, Metal, Punk
AutotuneDigital pitch correction that can create a distinctive, robotic sound Pop, Electronic, Hip hop
Dies Irae A medieval chant often used in film soundtracks to signify death or doom Film, Classical, Pop

Famous Examples in Soundtracks

Here are some famous examples of film soundtracks that use some of the musical techniques listed in the table:

  • Dies Irae: This medieval chant has been used in many film soundtracks, including “The Shining,” “The Lion King,” and “The Exorcist.”
  • Ostinato: The famous “Jaws” theme by John Williams uses a simple two-note ostinato to create tension and anticipation.
  • Arpeggio: The iconic theme from “The Godfather” by Nino Rota features a memorable arpeggiated melody played on a solo trumpet.
  • Syncopation: The music of composer Bernard Herrmann, particularly in his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock such as “Psycho” and “Vertigo,” often features heavy use of syncopation to create a sense of unease and tension.
  • Chromaticism: The soundtrack for “The Social Network” by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross features extensive use of chromaticism to create a dark, unsettling atmosphere.
  • Crescendo: The climactic scene of “Jurassic Park” features a famous crescendo in John Williams’ score as the camera pans over the awe-inspiring dinosaurs.
  • Sampling: The soundtrack for “Trainspotting” features an eclectic mix of pop songs and electronic music, including the hit “Born Slippy” by Underworld, which prominently features a sampled vocal hook.
  • Rubato: The iconic love theme from “Titanic” by James Horner features a rubato tempo that adds to the emotional intensity of the scene.
  • Autotune: The use of autotune is prevalent in contemporary pop music, including in the soundtrack for “The Great Gatsby,” which features several songs by artists such as Beyonce, Lana Del Rey, and Florence + The Machine that make use of autotune effects.

1 thought on “From Arpeggios to Overtone Singing: A List of 50 Music Techniques and Their Examples”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *