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Heterophony (from ancient Greek ἕτερος héteros , German 'different, different' and φωνή phonē 'sound') is a form of music between unison and a rudimentary polyphony . They all sing or play the same melody . The individual voices, however, deviate more or less strongly from this main melody in their respective improvisational design and decoration .

After monophony (unanimity, as was widespread in the Middle Ages), polyphony (typical of the Renaissance and Baroque) and homophony (only became increasingly popular from the Viennese classical period and is still typical for most forms of music today), heterophony has a much smaller role and that both in their use and in explanatory models based on music theory.


The term heterophony was introduced in 1901 by the musicologist Carl Stumpf with reference to Plato and stood for a special form of spontaneous polyphony in which a "basically identical tone movement" (Stumpf) by several players or singers simultaneously, but in the Details differing from each other (in different variants) is presented.


Heterophonic music-making practices can be found in Arabic , Persian , East Asian (including China, Japan, Korea) and Turkish art music ; in jazz they come on the one hand in the early forms, e.g. B. the Dixieland or the "Early New Orleans Style" of the street bands or marching bands, on the other hand in free jazz, realized through the consciously and intentionally time-shifted (phase-shifted) presentation of the theme by two wind instruments. Heterophony is also widespread in Irish folk : Since monophonic tunes are usually played in normal sessions (possibly with drones underneath ) , only the heterophony ensures true variety and uniqueness of individual session musicians.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Heteroyphony. Retrieved May 4, 2017 .