As well as deciding what instruments to write for, composers spend a lot of time considering how the different lines that these instruments play will be layered together. The resulting layers of music are known as its texture, and varying this element contributes a lot towards the effect of the music on the listener.
Combinations and numbers of instruments can create different textures, but we can also talk about different textures when only one instrument – such as a piano – is playing. It is best to think about not how many instruments are playing, but how many layers or parts. For example, a passage for piano where both hands are playing thick chords will have a fuller texture than one where each hand is only playing single notes.
Additionally, texture means not only how many layers or parts there are, but also how they behave in relation to each other. In this module we will learn how to describe the difference, for example, between a texture where the parts move quite independently of one another, and a texture where all the parts move together at the same time.
So, in a nutshell, texture is:
The number of parts, or layers, that are playing
The way in which these parts, or layers, move in relation to each other.