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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That the Mass is the central feature of the Catholic religion hardly needs to be said. During the Reformation (and always) the Mass has been the test. The word of the Reformers—“It is the Mass that matters”—was true. The long persecution of Catholics in England took the practical form of laws chiefly against saying Mass; for centuries the occupant of the English throne was obliged to manifest his Protestantism, not by a general denial of the whole system of Catholic dogma, but by a formal repudiation of the doctrine of Transubstantiation and of the Mass.
— Fr. Adrian Fortescue (d. 1923)

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The Easiest Way To Teach Your Choir Polyphony
published 4 August 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

Suppose you want your choir to launch into polyphony when “Asperges” is repeated, like this:


How would you go about teaching the notes and rhythm?

I suggest you use Solfège, the absolute best and easiest way to teach polyphony. How exactly does this work? Click on the links marked “Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass”—you’ll soon understand what I’m getting at:

      “ASPERGES ME” after Zachariis (†1594)   •   PDF Score (Singer)

SOPRANO : YouTube   •   Audio

ALTO : YouTube   •   Audio

TENOR : YouTube   •   Audio

BASS : YouTube   •   Audio

EQUAL VOICES (does not include Solfège) : YouTube   •   Mp3 Audio


Until the piece is sung perfectly in Solfège,1 do not allow your choir to sing the actual text. Solfège makes it so much easier to point out specific notes which need correction, especially in the middle of a melisma.

I RECOMMEND THIS polyphony score for the repeat only. For the rest of the chant, you might want to download this organ accompaniment, which I wrote out earlier this afternoon. Composed by Canon Van Nuffel, it’s as good as any other—and better than most. More resources for the “Asperges Me” are stored at the website honoring Saint Antoine Daniel, one of the Jesuit Martyrs of North America.



NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:

1   Choir members sometimes ask whether Solfège syllables will be sung during Mass. Explain to them that Solfège is never used at Mass; it’s merely a tool to help choirs learn their pitches and rhythm.