Abstract and Keywords
This chapter situates the extensive phenomenon of musical polyphony globally, taking typological and historical/material approaches in turn, and interspersing applications of comparative method that crosscut both. The typological method involves first considering the elemental aspects of musical sounds and the ways they can be combined, individually and in sequences, to create patterns we recognize as belonging to one of several polyphonic categories. The historical/material approach surveys the development of polyphony in European art music over a millennial span with respect to advances in technology, which drive changes in musical instrument construction, music notation, temperament, and music’s social context. Interspersed throughout are comparative analyses juxtaposing musical homonyms from starkly different world traditions, and musical synonyms from different historical moments within the same tradition.
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