Density refers to the number of musical elements that exist within a given segment of music. A segment may be dense in a variety of ways:
- Rhythmically dense: a segment (time-span) that contains many complex patterns of musical events at once (i.e. hemiola, polrhythm?) or a time-point that carries several simultaneous attacks.
- Melodically dense: a segment that contains several melodies simultaneously occurring.
- Texturally dense: a segment that combines many varied, distinct musical voices on a number of different notes in a way such that the music is not easily simplified into a small set of groups.
These qualities are not mutually exclusive: a melodically dense work may very well require great textural density or rhythmic density in order to function.