Halfway through the course, the musical journey brought me back to the subject which I’ve been studying for more than 6 years now. From the start, my exploration of polyphony and counterpoint was based on very strict rules, such as avoiding the parallel and hidden fifths and octaves, and different ways in which to handle the dissonances and consonances. Progressing through various exercises, such as those designed by Fux, there was only one goal to achieve – reaffirm the rigid musical laws.
As such, this section of the course offered me a completely new direction for exploring polyphony – one that allows for imagination and freedom; showing that while it is important to know the rules, they shouldn’t restrict the creativity. In this way, I didn’t really need to travel that far, but utilize my old knowledge and try to experiment a little through the projects that allowed for creative autonomy.
Still, some of the ideas were quite novel and fresh to me. For example, the fact that one melody could be structured as such as to combine with itself in a contrapuntal way, exemplefied in rounds and catches, which are rarely studied in the Continental Europe; or the possibility of adding percussion instruments to the polyphonic setting. While not so much territorially, I did travel in time, foremost to the Elizabethan era of music, and the early medieval period, when musical terms were very much mixed up, so that towards the present time, discant, organum and diaphonia for example, all meant different things depending on the historic time interval.
Engaging with the new-found forms of rounds, catches and descant, I was able to compose a few interesting short contrapuntal pieces, but also enjoy some jewels of the past, such as Sumer ist icumen in. I was also able to play some more with the woodwind family of instruments, reviewing the knowledge I gathered in Part Two of the course, now in a new context of the polyphonic blending of their voices.
At any rate, the most crucial thing I added to my compositional skills is the ability to add freedom to my creative process, which not only reflected in my polyphonic assignment that creatively draws on a fairy tale, but is something that, as a musician and an artist in general, I will surely carry with me outside of the course.