Parisian Polyphony

Actually the impetus for this latest listening class was to provide some additional content for some theory lessons I was teaching. I thought Why not spend some time online listening to different kinds of polyphony rather than just learning chord inversions and voice-leading rules? This approach also provides many opportunities to look at maps and learn some social and cultural context. 

So the first links I pulled up were actually from the 12-century Parisian masters, Leonin and Perotin. They are so often neglected until college-level history but are the logical starting point for any discussion of polyphony, i.e. "many voices." 

This example provides not only the fabulous recording of David Munrow and the Early Music Consort but also a rendering in modern notation of the original notation. The next example sets the same text but by a later composer, Perotin, and so the students can hear exactly what the next step was in early polyphonic writing:

These stunning examples led to discussion of where the text came from and why it was set the way it is (to long sustained notes), which led us to the first fork in the road: 

Do we look up more information about the notational practices of the Middle Ages or do we listen to more examples with melodies over sustained bass lines?

And the answer is - YES! Of course, we do BOTH.

One fork you've already travelled with Mongolian throat-singing (but we listened to other things too...)

For the other fork I can highly recommend the channel Early Music Sources with Elam Rotem:


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