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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"I am of the opinion, to be sure, that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to see what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community is calling its very being into question when it suddenly declares that what until now was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden, and when it makes the longing for it seem downright indecent. Can it be trusted any more about anything else? Won’t it proscribe tomorrow what it prescribes today?"
— Pope Benedict XVI, writing in 1997

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Superlative Way To Explain Polyphony
published 4 October 2017 by Jeff Ostrowski

HAT IS POLYPHONY? How does it incorporate ancient plainsong melodies? Our eyes could better see that if we looked at the original part books. In the following example, I have superimposed the original plainsong melody (“Vexilla Regis”) onto Palestrina’s part books from 1589AD.

Do you see how all four voices enter with the “Fulget crucis” plainsong melody?

        * *  PDF Palestrina’s VEXILLA REGIS (Hymni Totius Anni, 1589)


We can also see how chants are incorporated by looking at a modern version of the same hymn by Palestrina:

        * *  PDF Palestrina’s VEXILLA REGIS (Modern Score)


To use melodies in this way may seem—to those who don’t know very much about counterpoint—a simple task. Nothing could be further from the truth. Composing in such a way is like trying to solve a massive Rubik’s Cube; when you try to complete one line, it has an effect on all the work you’ve already done and messes it up.