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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“Sacred music, being a complementary part of the solemn liturgy, participates in the general scope of the liturgy, which is the glory of God and the sanctification and edification of the faithful. It contributes to the decorum and the splendor of the ecclesiastical ceremonies, and since its principal office is to clothe with suitable melody the liturgical text proposed for the understanding of the faithful, its proper aim is to add greater efficacy to the text, in order that through it the faithful may be the more easily moved to devotion and better disposed for the reception of the fruits of grace belonging to the celebration of the most holy mysteries.”
— Pope Saint Pius X

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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: