Homophony (from the Greek for 'like-sounding') in music is a texture in which two or more parts move in harmony (based primarily on chords). Homophony is distinct from polyphony, which involves combinations of melodies that are relatively independent. Homophony is typically characterized by one part (often the highest) predominating, with little rhythmic difference between parts. In polyphony, by contrast, rhythmic distinctiveness will reinforce the autonomy of the melody.
Music of the Middle Ages (from about 400 to 1450) began with the development of monophony, which is essentially music with a single part or melodic line. This was manifested in the sacred music of the Roman Catholic Church, characterized primarily by vocal chants that were sung without accompaniment and in unison. The gradual development of counterpoint led to the later integration of polyphony into music of this period. Homophony developed after this, in the Renaissance (c. 1450–1600) and involved pieces that could be performed by both singers and different instruments. As a term, however, homophony did not appear in English until its use by composer and music historian Charles Burney (1726–1814) in his General History of Music (1776).
Since the middle of the Baroque period (c. 1600–1760), music theorists have considered four voices in homophonic arrangement as the basic texture of Western music. The rise of homophony also led to the development of new melodic forms such as the sonata, which was popular in the Classical (c. 1730–) and Romantic periods.