From Heavenly Harmony
The Beauty of Many as One
by Ken Myers
"The history of Western music," pronounced the English composer Edmund Rubbra, "is the history of the form-compelling power of counterpoint." In simple terms, counterpoint describes music that features more than one melodic line sounded simultaneously, each line harmonically and rhythmically engaged with the others. The term comes from the Latin punctus contra punctum "point against point." But the againstness in counterpoint isn't a matter of stark or arbitrary opposition. We perceive beauty in the artful use of counterpoint because it reveals the ultimately harmonious relatedness at the heart of a Creation called forth by a Triune God. The contra in counterpoint is a fruitful against, involving (as Rubbra described it) . . .
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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