Reaction Essays “The Emergence of Polyphony” essay sample

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Reaction Essays “The Emergence of Polyphony”

The essay consists of the collection of modern and historical commentaries about polyphony and its emergence. The essay begins with the representation of Biblical description of music as harmony but not a combination of sounds. The earliest writings about such kind of music belong to the ninth century, and the first polyphonic singing is “Musica Enchiriadis,” which belongs to the early tenth century (Essay 5 51). Interestingly, the first polyphonic compositions were heard on the holy festival, which meant that they were dedicated to God. Erigenna explains that when different notes of one melody are played separately, they have no meaning, and when they are played in combinations, sounding together, they create “a natural charm” (Essay 5 51). Another interesting commentary is about a low voice and a high voice sounding together. They make an organum or consonance. Something similar appeared in Wales, when many people sang together not in unison but in parts and modes, creating a harmonious and polyphonic composition. In addition, the first polyphonic schools appeared in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries in France, England, and Spain.

The best composer of organum was Master Leoninus who wrote compositions for the church or the Divine Service. After reading the essay, I realized that I have never thought about the emergence of polyphony in a deep sense. Now, I understand that it is really not a combination of many notes and sounds but musical harmony. I experienced this feeling many times when I went to a church but I could not understand what it meant. The essay helped me to examine the history of polyphonic music and define my personal opinion about it. Before reading the essay, I was sure that polyphonic music was just a mixture of notes and voices, which blended with each other. However, I comprehend that I was wrong, and polyphony is really harmony of souls and tones. The words by William Dalglish about after-singing and before-singing, counter-singing, in-between-singing and ill-advised singing make sense to me because I have never thought of singing from such perspective. Polyphonic singing is not as easy as it seemed to me at first. I realized that every composition should be divided into many small parts, and every part should be sung independently, and only after that, a real big and whole composition would appear.

Of course, I knew it before, but the essay helped me to penetrate into the world of polyphony deeper. Moreover, I found out the approximate date of its appearance, which I did not know. In conclusion, I agree with the main ideas of the essay that polyphony is musical harmony.“A Letter from Guillaume de Machaut”The essay is a letter from the poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut to his beloved lady, Peronnelle D’Armentieres. The man was the first composer who made copies of his works. The letter tells about de Machaut’s aims and desires regarding his lady. He revealed his feelings in the best way a man could …

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