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According to these wiki pages (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monody https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homophony), in Monody, ”one solo voice sings a melodic part, usually with considerable ornamentation, over a rhythmically independent bass line.”

It is also said on the wiki pages that there is melody dominated homophony where “accompanying voices provide chordal support for the lead voice, which assumes the melody and that Monody is similar to melody-dominated homophony in that one voice becomes the melody, while another voice assumes the underlying harmony.”

So, does creating the underlying harmony for a melodic voice require chords (3 voices) or is a single voice enough?

At the bottom, are a couple of monody examples from these two videos:

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  • Enough for what? Are you not already aware of large amounts of music that is only two voices? Dec 28, 2023 at 13:19
  • @ToddWilcox I am trying to learn how a singular voice can be used to shape the harmony for the lead voice. I’m not sure what the term for that would be called within “two part writing” and the closest thing I came by was monody.
    – Lecifer
    Dec 28, 2023 at 18:21
  • @Lecifer Given your underlying goal, it sounds like my post doesn't answer your "real" question. Is that the case? If yes, please edit your question to include the motivation explicitly, and I'll update my post accordingly.
    – Aaron
    Dec 28, 2023 at 21:15
  • @Aaron is it ok to add that to this question or would it be better to try and post it as a completely different question. I know people usually tell me not to ask more than one question, and even with this one I did something wrong to warrant a close vote.
    – Lecifer
    Dec 28, 2023 at 21:57
  • @Lecifer I suppose in this case it would be better to open a separate post. Perhaps the answer(s) here will inform how you understand and address the underlying issue(s).
    – Aaron
    Dec 28, 2023 at 22:05

1 Answer 1

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The concepts of monody and homophony are describing two different things. Monody is a musical style; whereas, homophony is a musical texture.

Musical textures

There are

  • Monophony: every voice is in unison or octaves.
  • Polyphony: multiple voices are independent of each other but of equal value within the music.
  • Homophony: a single melody with an essentially choral accompaniment, which is to say, the "voices" in the accompaniment need not operate independently of each other, and they play a subordinate role.
  • Heterophony: multiple voices simultaneously perform variations of the same melody.

Musical style

Monody is a specific style that arose in the early 17th century. It is essentially homophonic. There was a clearly dominant melodic part, as in homophony (and counter to polyphony), and the accompaniment was largely chordal (though it might contain polyphonic elements within itself).

The core innovation of monody was that the accompaniment played a clearly subordinate role to the melody and was often played on a single instrument.

The creation of harmony

The question of how many voices are required to create harmony is again a somewhat separate issue. Harmony can be created (rather, implied) by a single voice. Bach's cello suites are a canonical example of this.

Thus, if one voice can suggest harmony, then a melody with single-voice accompaniment can do so as well. Monody the style would have had a chordal accompaniment (i.e., multi-voiced, but not independent voices), but jazz, for example, might be performed with "just" bass and saxophone, say — an essentially two voice texture (leaving aside chords on the bass or multiphonics on the sax) yet able to express clear harmony.

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