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“She was dressed in rich materials—satins, and lace, and silks—all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white.” With these words, Charles Dickens introduces the character of Miss Havisham in his novel Great Expectations .

How is musical identity established? How can we describe the basic attributes of a musical idea?

A writer might portray a character through details of physical appearance, background and behavior. We will view musical identity as being created by rhythm, melody, harmony, pitch content and instrumental color.


Because music is a time-art, rhythm is the most basic element of musical identity. Most generally, speed helps to characterize the music: Fast music is different from slow.

More concretely, a repeating rhythmic pattern may underlie a musical idea.

In Maurice Ravel’s Bolero , a fixed rhythmic pattern—first played by the snare drum—anchors the entire composition.

In this excerpt from Steve Reich’s Music for Large Ensemble , the evolving texture grows out of an underlying rhythmic pattern.

The term motive refers to a short, elemental fragment. If the entire pattern or theme is a necklace, then motives are its beads.

A rhythmic motive may be a key identifying feature. The opening of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 consists of music’s most famous rhythmic motives: “three dots and a dash.”

In this excerpt, the rhythmic motive is passed around the orchestra:

Lalo Schifrin’s theme for Mission Impossible contains a rhythmic motive consisting of “two dots and a dash.” A fixed pattern, or ostinato , underlies the Mission Impossible theme, also contributing to its identity.

A rhythmic motive can take any melodic shape: In the Mission Impossible example, the motive at first heads downwards three times in succession. It then appears three more times: These times, however the motive “curls” upwards. The rhythms are identical but the melodic shape is not strict.

Thus, extended rhythmic patterns and shorter motives may be embedded in a musical idea, contributing to its identity.


Melody is music’s most familiar and intuitive term: It’s what we sing or hum. In classical and popular music, it is often the primary focus of our attention.

Melody has two components: rhythm, combined with the rising and falling of pitch.

Clearly, rhythm alone does not make a melody: Try singing the rhythm of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in a monotone. Stripped of pitch inflection, it is no longer a song. But pitch alone is not enough either. Try singing “I’ve Been Working” in even-valued rhythms: It loses its form like a crumpled shirt. Thus, melody is a hybrid concept: It incorporates both rhythm and pitch. When we speak of melodic contour and motive , rhythm is often implicated as well.

The contour of a melody describes its shape. The contour of the principal theme of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 rises ever higher in three short thrusts and then sinks back down:

Questions & Answers

how do you translate this in Algebraic Expressions
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Need to simplify the expresin. 3/7 (x+y)-1/7 (x-1)=
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. After 3 months on a diet, Lisa had lost 12% of her original weight. She lost 21 pounds. What was Lisa's original weight?
Chris Reply
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Damian Reply
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abeetha Reply
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Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
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In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
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I'm interested in Nanotube
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Prasenjit Reply
At high concentrations (>0.01 M), the relation between absorptivity coefficient and absorbance is no longer linear. This is due to the electrostatic interactions between the quantum dots in close proximity. If the concentration of the solution is high, another effect that is seen is the scattering of light from the large number of quantum dots. This assumption only works at low concentrations of the analyte. Presence of stray light.
Ali Reply
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Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sound reasoning. OpenStax CNX. May 31, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10214/1.21
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