Take the 2-minute tour ×
Musical Practice & Performance Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for musicians, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Many songs will start with only a few number of instruments, and after a specified amount of time has passed a new instrument is added, and this is repeated until all instruments for the song are playing its rhythms. Sometimes this is also done when finishing the song, but in reverse order.

Does this style of opening a piece has a name?

share|improve this question
I do not have an answer, but if you get the chance to hear Gavin Bryars piece en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus'_Blood_Never_Failed_Me_Yet go for it, it is a beautiful example of gradually adding instruments to accompany a simple looped sung phrase. So moving. –  dumbledad Dec 21 '13 at 14:52
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Technically, this is less about form and more about orchestration. People can use instruments to denote a shift or division or a new section in the piece, though they don't have to.

Orchestration is the art of timbre.

When instruments enter one at a time, their entrances are described as "staggered". The fact that the instruments enter halfway through the piece is an orchestrational one. Canons and Rounds do not apply in this context if the staggered voices do not also enter through imitation as well.

share|improve this answer
I think this is more near to the answer I search. I will accept it if no more answer come in a few days. –  PhoneixS Dec 23 '13 at 15:50
add comment

The closest term I found for this was a canon. Not exactly the same, but pretty close. A canon pretty much when one voice has the melody and some duration later another voice comes in playing the same melody and then the pattern continues for more voices. A round is also a type of canon that may be slightly closer to what you are thinking of.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Development, or buildup? Crescendo is when the music gets louder. Development is nearer to what you ask.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.