Term, derived drom the Greek for 'many-sounding', used for music in which two or more strands sound simultaneously. It is used in distinction with monophony ('one-sounding', for music consisting of one line) and homophony ('like-sounding' implying music in which the melody is accompanied by voices in the same rhythm.
In fact, polyphony strictly comprehends homophony, though in common usage there is a distinction between them.

The term 'polyphonic era' is generally applied to the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance; the late Renaissance (the time of Palestrina and Lassus) is regarded as the 'golden age of polyphony'. The kind of polyphony used in the Baroque era, by Bach and Handel, is usually described by the term counter-point.

Po*lyph"o*ny (?), n. [Gr. .]


Multiplicity of sounds, as in the reverberations of an echo.


Plurality of sounds and articulations expressed by the same vocal sign.

3. Mus.

Composition in mutually related, equally important parts which share the melody among them; contrapuntal composition; -- opposed to homophony, in which the melody is given to one part only, the others filling out the harmony. See Counterpoint.


© Webster 1913.

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