This is a countermelody, sometimes called a descant part. Gospel and pop singers often add countermelodies, sometimes improvised, and classical music also contains many, many examples of countermelodies. Counterpoint is a broad organizational feature of much music, involving the simultaneous sounding of separate musical lines.
It is especially prominent in Western music. The adjectival form contrapuntal shows this Latin source more transparently.
In all eras, writing of music organized contrapuntally has been subject to rules, sometimes strict. Counterpoint focuses on melodic interaction rather than harmonic effects generated when melodic strands sound together:.
It was elaborated extensively in the Renaissance period, but composers of the Baroque period brought counterpoint to a kind of culmination, and it may be said that, broadly speaking, harmony then took over as the predominant organizing principle in musical composition. The late Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach wrote most of his music incorporating counterpoint, and explicitly and systematically explored the full range of contrapuntal possibilities in such works as The Art of Fugue.
Given the way terminology in music history has evolved, such music created from the Baroque period on is described as contrapuntal, while music from before Baroque times is called polyphonic. Hence, the earlier composer Josquin Des Prez is said to have written polyphonic music. Homophony, by contrast with polyphony, features music in which chords or vertical intervals work with a single melody without much consideration of the melodic character of the added accompanying elements, or of their melodic interactions with the melody they accompany. As suggested above, most popular music written today is predominantly homophonic, its composition governed mainly by considerations of chord and harmony; but, while general tendencies can often be fairly strong one way or another, rather than describing a musical work in absolute terms as either polyphonic or homophonic, it is a question of degree.
The form or compositional genre known as fugue is perhaps the most complex contrapuntal convention. Other examples include the round familiar in folk traditions and the canon.
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In musical composition, contrapuntal techniques are important for enabling composers to generate musical ironies that serve not only to intrigue listeners into listening more intently to the spinning out of complexities found within the texture of a polyphonic composition, but also to draw them all the more into hearing the working out of these figures and interactions of musical dialogue.
A melodic fragment, heard alone, makes a particular impression; but when the fragment is heard simultaneously with other melodic ideas, or combined in unexpected ways with itself as in a canon or fugue , greater depths of affective meaning are revealed. Through development of a musical idea, the fragments undergo a working out into something musically greater than sum of the parts, something conceptually more profound than a single pleasing melody.
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A true statement now and pretty much at every other juncture in our professional timeline. Also: why in the world does a piece of software need such elaborate design? I would love to see a version of this online for us to play with.
Maybe eventually when Fugue launches its full site. Preview of it here. The abstract blotches are a great way of adding variety to the applications. Rather than just applying the logo in all its variations over and over, these add a touch of intrigue to the materials. And, again, they are just cool to look at.
So the most important thing for us was creating a visual language that worked optimally across those media where people see it most often.