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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“We must say it plainly: the Roman rite as we knew it exists no more. It has gone. Some walls of the structure have fallen, others have been altered—we can look at it as a ruin or as the partial foundation of a new building. Think back, if you remember it, to the Latin sung High Mass with Gregorian chant. Compare it with the modern post-Vatican II Mass. It is not only the words, but also the tunes and even certain actions that are different. In fact it is a different liturgy of the Mass.”
— Fr. Joseph Gelineau (1978)

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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.