About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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“I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. Some people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about canon law. Many regard it with contempt and find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of.”
— St. Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516

Can Church Musicians Learn From An Online Role-Playing Game?
published 15 September 2014 by Jeff Ostrowski

861 Flame Wreath WOULD LOVE TO EXPLAIN to you World of Warcraft, but I haven’t the first clue how to play. Yet, tons of my friends have been obsessed with it for years. I can tell you it’s time-consuming, expensive, and impossible to “win.”

I’ll never forget my surprise shortly after moving to Texas, when I noticed polyphonic music emanating from my roommate’s section of the house. One of the WoW players had gotten sick of his comrades moving after “flame wreath” was cast (which causes the raid to blow up). This clever guy composed & recorded a 15-second song to chastise them:

      * *  Mp3 Audio: “I Will Not Move When Flame Wreath Is Cast Or The Raid Blows Up”

Each repeat, ANOTHER VOICE is added to his catchy tune. (You heard it?)

But watch out … once that tune gets in your head, it’s quite difficult to forget. 1

WHAT MAKES IT SO INTERESTING, of course, is that he “layers” each successive voice upon the previous one. I took a few measures from my St. Arrowsmith Mass to illustrate the same concept:

Perhaps I should “expose” snippets like that more often, to help people appreciate the polyphonic textures. This “richness” helps assure that Church music never gets old—new treasures always await the patient listener! To learn more about the Arrowsmith setting, please click here.

Incidentally, when I was in college, Dr. Mark Holmberg—a KU professor of Music Theory—visited our office (since we were working on a project together). My brother was playing Everquest, which is similar to WoW. At that moment, he was chasing a frog and hitting it with a sword, causing the frog to emit gold coins. Dr. Holmberg was absolutely fascinated by this, especially when the frog started swimming and my brother’s character followed him into the lake.


1   Perhaps someone would be willing to compose & record a similar song for the difference between “Sung” and “Spoken” Propers—after all, some good folks still don’t understand this concept.