Thursday, March 4, 2010

Let's Talk About Polyphony


Musicpolyphonic composition; counterpoint.


consisting of many voices or sounds.
having two or more voices or parts, each with an independent melody, but all harmonizing; contrapuntal (opposed to homophonic).

I love early music; early as in pre-Bach. And early music is all about the polyphony. It makes the music challenging, beautiful, complex, and so much fun to sing, in my opinion.

But I'm talking about a different Polyphony: the professional English vocal group led by Stephen Layton. They are the embodiment of everything I want to achieve as a musician. Their sound and their musical sensitivity is heartbreakingly beautiful in the most exquisite way. They approach vocal music so purely and clearly; they truly let the music speak for itself, without trying to make it important. When they sing, it is simplicity at its best. They produce sheer joy, in vocal form. You can almost see the beams of light surrounding them when they lock chords so perfectly. I'm a bit of a music snob, but Polyphony brings me to tears.

Today I decided that I could not live one more day without owning their cd Cloudburst. First of all, Eric Whitacre is a genre unto himself. His compositions are incredible. He has mastered the most basic and essential (in my opinion) concepts of music: tension and release. No one manipulates dissonances and suspensions like Whitacre. His music truly speaks to the heart. Although, I don't love the some of the poem translations he uses for text, but that's beside the point.

I have to say, I am disappointed in Barnes & Noble for not having the cd or knowing of Polyphony, but I realize they're not exactly the most trendy of groups.

Anyway, I bought the cd through itunes, plus two other songs they recorded which I am singing in an upcoming choir concert.

Even if you think classical music is stuffy and old fashioned or think choir music is dull and boring, I challenge you to listen to a Polyphony recording and not be moved.

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