- Melody - the main tune of the music sang or played by a lead instrument like a violin, a piano, flute or a guitar. Notes could be added or taken away.
- Rhythm - the ‘feel’ of the music. It could be regular, swung, loose, tight, tense, relaxed, or however else you might want to describe the feel of the music.
- Dynamics - this describes how the volume of the music changes, for example from loud to quiet, quiet to loud, very loud to very quiet etc. There are many Italian words to describe these such as forte (loud), piano (soft).
- Harmony - the ‘key signature’ could be changed from major (happier) to minor (sadder) for example.
- Instruments used - different instruments have a very different effect and sometimes switching the instruments around changes the music dramatically or more subtlety (less dramatically).
- Tempo - the speed of the main beat of the music. For example: a fast song/piece of music played slowly feels completely different!
- Time signature - how many beats in a bar (4, 3, 6 etc). This is connected to rhythm; changing the time signature changes the feel of the music.
- Arrangement - how parts of the music are arranged on different instruments and the structure of a piece of music can be changed around, for example parts can be added or taken away, made higher or lower, played or more, less or different instruments and/or the different sections (such as the introduction, verse and chorus) can be swapped around.
Have a think about some of these things as you watch how this pianist create different variations of a very well known song you all know! Write down your thoughts and ideas throughout.
Here is the original track, listen to melody/ song and see what you think!
Now, listen to this re-arrangement. The saxophone/ clarinet player John Coltrane is probably the most well-known saxophonist in the world, he played jazz music which uses a lot of improvisation (making up a lot of variations!). There are lots of variations in the melody, the harmony (chords), the rhythm and of course the instruments used are totally different.
Some of you will know this song, so why not sing along at home with the words ready for you on this video!
This is a jazz arrangement by a pianist for a jazz trio (piano, double bass and drum kit). Listen to the melody variations, and the rhythm variations. There are also more variations in the dynamics (loud, quiet, etc) compared to the original.
Don't Matter by Akon (covered by Ariana Grande and lots of other people on Tik Tok!)
This is a simple melody on its own without accompaniment, but the different singers have different tones in their voice, each one is unique (and remember Ariana Grande’s one is recorded in a music studio and the others are recorded on a phone which makes the sound quality different. Have a listen and see what you think of the different variations other singers (mostly from Indonesia on this video) do.