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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“After the Second Vatican Council, the impression arose that the pope really could do anything in liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council. Eventually, the idea of the givenness of the liturgy, the fact that one cannot do with it what one will, faded from the public consciousness of the West.”
— Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

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Teaching Polyphony To Singers Who Can't Read Music
published 10 February 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

331 Choral HEN I SANG in college, the thing we hated most was solfège. We would plead with the director to “let us sing the words.” As a choirmaster, I’ve come to appreciate the great benefits of solfège.

Do some of your singers struggle when it comes to reading music? No problem! Use solfège.

You can observe how it works below. The bass recording has a little distortion—because of an error I made—and I apologize for this, but you’ll get the idea:

Video (Sopr)   •   Mp3 (Sopr)
Video (Alto)   •   Mp3 (Alto)
Video (Tenr)   •   Mp3 (Tenr)
Video (Bass)   •   Mp3 (Bass)

I plead with you: before listening to the polyphony, please become familiar with the Gregorian version. Only by knowing this melody will you be able to properly understand the beauty of Palestrina’s setting. To experience another section of Palestrina’s Vexilla Regis, click here.

Here is the score for the “Arbor decora et fulgida” by Palestrina:

      * *  PDF Download • Palestrina “Arbor Decora” (Polyphony Score)

Once the singers master their lines, they should practice against the equal voice recording or this equal voice video: