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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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modern: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

Polyphony (SATB) By Verdelot • With Optional Hymn “Christe Supreme”
published 23 July 2015 by Jeff Ostrowski

471 Non Sharp In Truth HEN YOU LISTEN to this wonderful piece by Philippe Verdelot, pay special attention to the cadence ending the polyphony. The penultimate chord is almost a Dominant Seventh, 1 which is truly remarkable when we consider that Verdelot died in 1532AD.

    * *  PDF “CHRISTE SUPREME” & Polyphony

Scroll down to hear rehearsal videos created to help your choir.

This piece almost constitutes a “mini course” in music history. The techniques used by Verdelot—imitation, stretto, polyphonic lines as opposed to homophony, and so forth—would be used for the next 250 years…and never surpassed. (I say this as someone who loves Chopin dearly.) In that sense, Verdelot was similar to Cristóbal de Morales; both were ahead of their time. 2 The hymn tune is the same melody from which we get Solfège (i.e. DO RE MI FA SOL LA TI DO), except it’s a special version from Mocquereau’s 1903 Liber Usualis. In my opinion, this version is infinitely more beautiful than the one found in the Editio Vaticana. An organ accompaniment can also be downloaded.

We have often stressed that books like the Jogues Pew Missal contain the complete Mass Propers—the official prayers of the Mass. However, as this piece shows, our liturgical heritage also contains numerous treasures no longer part of the official Missal, Lectionary, or Gradual.

EQUAL VOICES : YouTube   •   Mp3 Audio

SOPRANO : YouTube   •   Audio

ALTO : YouTube   •   Audio

TENOR : YouTube   •   Audio

BASS : YouTube   •   Audio


1   I speak of the way it sounds to our modern ears, not the way Verdelot would have thought about or analyzed it.

2   These composers were not the only ones using such techniques, but I’m here speaking of the perfection with which they did so.