Mineralogically a gneiss consists mainly of feldspar and quartz with variable amounts of mica, amphibole and pyroxene. It has a banded texture. Gneisses are the metamorphic product of quartz- and feldspar-rich igneous rocks such as granite, as well as of sandy and gravelly sediments such as arkose.
Gneiss is a common and widely distributed type of rock formed by high-grade regional metamorphic processes from preexisting formations that were originally either igneous or sedimentary rocks. Gneissic rocks are usually medium to coarse foliated and largely recrystallized but do not carry large quantities of micas, chlorite or other platy minerals. Gneisses that are metamorphosed igneous rocks or their equivalent are termed granite gneisses, diorite gneisses, etc.
However, depending on their composition, they may also be called garnet gneiss, biotite gneiss, albite gneiss, etc. Orthogneiss designates a gneiss derived from an igneous rock, and paragneiss is one from a sedimentary rock. Gneissose is used to describe rocks with properties similar to gneiss.
Gneiss resembles schist, except that the minerals are arranged into bands. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference between gneiss and a schist because some gneiss appears to have more mica than it really does. This is especially true with mica-rich parting planes.