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 lives with his wife and two children.
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Some are called not to much speaking, | nor to conversations about the Church, | but, rather, to a deep silence | and to a life hidden in the heart of the Church, | far from wrangling tongues, from speculations, and discord. [ … ] This is the essence of a Eucharistic monastic life.
— Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby (Meditation on Colossians 3:3)

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.


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.