Introduction to the practice of polyphony

*I am writing this in memory of Du Fay as he generously supplied the music pictured here*

Ave Regina Caelorum I – cantus. from Bodleian-Library-MS-Canon-Misc-213, fol-62r

Polyphony is life. I realized, how deep I already got in my journey towards this repertoire from .. let´s say the renaissance centuries (from about 1400 until the end of prima prattica? :D) is. 

If you really want to know what is going on in renaissance polyphony and therefore create amazing and intense musical moments in performances or for yourself, one of the basic and at the same time best methods is a combination reading from original notation plus memorization. I really have a lot of experience here, I´ve been doing if for years on a daily basis, but I never really questionned why I was doing it, my natural fascination and motivation just made me go for it no matter if I was alone or could sing/play with others. now I know more precicely the big *why* behind and I´d like to share that:

Reading from original notation makes your attention and therefore energy focus to the right things. you focus both at the same time

  • on the exact place/note/solmization syllable in the music where you currently are 
  • on the context around in your own line that such as previous notes, upcoming notes, to make conscious decisions on rythmical (tempus perfectum etc. ) and melodical (ficta like cadences and fa super la, avoiding tritones,..) alterations. 
  • on the context of the other voices around you. that´s super important for many of the ficta decisions and also to recognize imitations and to predict (evaded) cadences really long in advance. 
Ave Regina Caelorum I – tenor. from Bodleian-Library-MS-Canon-Misc-213, fol-62r

already by writing this I have a big smile on my face because all of the three points are so much fun! Can you already spot cadence places in cantus or tenor?

I offer to teach this, and everything else that can enhance your experience of renaissance polyphony. just message me if you are already interested in something. with love, laura. 

Ave Regina Caelorum I – contratenor. from Bodleian-Library-MS-Canon-Misc-213, fol-62r

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