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Is there a musical term for melodic density? By density i simply mean the amount of melodic (as opposed to harmonic) notes within a given time measure.

Example: 40 notes within a bar has higher melodic density than 10 notes within a bar.

(I realize tempo is also a factor for perceived density).

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  • It feels like the definition misses harmony vs melody, it could be a single 40 note chord.
    – Emil
    Jun 5 at 7:45
  • I see your point, but i did write melodic density. Edited for clarity.
    – Erik
    Jun 5 at 7:46
  • 2
    Compulsory YouTube link youtube.com/watch?v=AUFwk1Ibwkc
    – Tetsujin
    Jun 5 at 9:01
  • @Tetsujin There can never be too many notes
    – Erik
    Jun 5 at 9:29
  • I'd suggest starting with a comparison to digital communications. Bandwidth = number of notes per second, maybe? Similar concept to data rate such as kbps. Jun 10 at 20:04
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Melodic density, while not a "term of art", would be generally understood to mean as you intend.

In 1962, Milton Babbitt coined the term time-point interval, which can be used to describe the linear density of pitch onsets. A time point is the instantaneous moment at which a note begins (its onset). The time-point interval is the distance between onsets. It can be measured according to note-values rather than absolute time, and thus is tempo-independent.

For example, in 4/4 time, a quarter note followed by a quarter rest and then a half note would have a time-point interval (also called interonset interval) of a half note — the time from the initiation of the first quarter note to the initiation of the half note. An eighth note followed by a dotted quarter rest and then a half note would also have a time-point interval of a half note.

Thus, a measure with 40 linear (melodic) onsets would have a higher average interonset interval (call it interonset density) than a measure with 10 linear onsets.

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