Music Theory
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Ethnomusicology
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How does Homophonic Polyphony work?

We mentioned the term Homophonic Parallelism earlier, but we didn’t fully explore it. Here’s a step by step process of how it can work. It’s important to note that while the melody in this example is a traditional Nigerian folk song, the counter melody and harmonization are original. This example should be seen as a way to use this texture compositionally and not as an authentic example of this phenomenon.

It starts with a melody.

This song is titled L’abe igi orombo, which translates roughly to Lime tree lime

Next, a counter melody is added.

Now a counter melody with a different contour is added. This simple counter melody has the same rhythm as the original melody, but there are many examples of contrasting rhythms between melodies and counter melodies.

Now, we harmonize the melody with homophonic parallelism.

The counter melody has been transposed down an octave in this example to make it easier to hear.

Finally, we harmonize the counter melody in a similar way.

The original melody is harmonized with lower notes while the counter melody has a higher and lower harmony.