The Knowledge: Texture Vocabulary

The devolved nations of the UK each have their own music curricula, which have to be interpreted and taught by non-specialists at primary level. In this blog series, we aim to support teachers’ knowledge of the key musical terminology which appears in these curricula. In this edition of The Knowledge, we look at terminology associated with texture.


Texture in music indicates how many layers there are within the music. Just like textiles, music can be ‘thick’ or ‘thin’ depending on how many layers of sound are played at once. With primary school pupils we might only get as far as identifying the texture as thick or thin, but there are some useful musical terms that describe specific types of textures. The most commonly used of these are listed below.

Monophonic & Unison

A monoponic texture is where one melody is heard on its own. A unison texture is where that one melody is played or sung by several people. Both of these would fit the description of ‘thin’ textures.


A homophonic texture is one made up of chords moving together at the same speed – hymns for example are often homophonic.


Polyphonic music is when multiple independent melodies are played at the same time. Good examples of this can be found in Renaissance church music. This type of texture would fit the description of ‘thick’ as there are lots of sounds all going on at once.