The structure beyond the nearest neighbor atoms in liquid and glass is characterized by the medium-range order (MRO). In the conventional approach, the MRO is considered to result directly from the short-range order (SRO) in the nearest neighbors. To this bottom–up approach starting with the SRO, we propose to add a top–down approach in which global collective forces drive liquid to form density waves. The two approaches are in conflict with each other, and the compromise produces the structure with the MRO. The driving force to produce density waves provides the stability and stiffness to the MRO, and controls various mechanical properties. This dual framework provides a novel perspective for description of the structure and dynamics of liquid and glass.