Research (Projects 8-10)

The different polyphonic forms mentioned within the course material motivated me to do interesting research posts that not only helped me place them within the historical context, but also stimulated the composing of my project exercises for this part of the course. Click the category links below to access them. The research posts are also mentioned at the beginning of each project post. This includes the posts about the polyphonic genres of rounds, catches and descants, as well as the history of Elizabethan music.

Project 8

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1 – Rounds, Catches, and the Fuzzy Terminology

While doing research about rounds and catches, I found that the distinction between the terminologies round, catch, and canon, was very mixed up and blurry depending on the historical period, which is the main topic of this post.

2 – Sumer ist icumen in

This is the earliest surviving round, probably written mid-13th century. Here, I mostly write about its history and peculiar form.

3 – Elizabethan music

While reading about the rounds, I found that many were written during the Elizabethan period. This is why I wanted to do a post specifically focused on the music from this era.

Project 9

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1 – Descant and the Fuzzy Medieval Terminology – Early Beginnings

Reading about the descant, I saw even more blurred and unclear use of the terminology than in the case of rounds and catches, especially since descant appeared with the birth of polyphonic music in the Middle Ages. Descant in these times was related to organum and diaphonia.

2 – Descant, Post-Guidonian Organum, and the Rise of Modal Rhythm

In this post, I continue the previous research, starting with the post-guidonian organum, which descant was still tied to. With Ars Antiqua, a new type of melismatic organum developed, while the old style of organum became descant. From then, the two terms finally became more and more distanced in Ars Nova.

3 – Later Descant and Descant in England

Following the previous post, descant received a new meaning of any combination of sounds, however, in 15th Century contrapunctus and polyphony overtook this designation. There is also the issue of descant being differently used in the Continental Europe and England.

4 – 20th Century Hymn Tune Descant

In the final post regarding descant, I arrive at the 20th Century, when descant came to be understood as it is today – a counter-theme to the hymn. Interestingly, this meaning and practice was actually established by the misunderstanding of the old Medieval concept of descant.

Project 10

I didn’t include any research for Project 10, because it is based on my old knowledge of the three-part polyphony, such as Fux and other polyphonic exercises I did. I also felt I already accomplished a lot with my other research posts.