Polyphonic music can also be called polyphony, counterpoint, or contrapuntal music. If more than one independent melody is occurring at the same time, the music is polyphonic. (See Counterpoint.)
Examples of Polyphony
- Rounds, canons, and fugues are all polyphonic. (Even if there is only one melody, if different people are singing or playing it at different times, the parts sound independent.)
- Much Baroque music is contrapuntal, particularly the works of J.S. Bach.
- Most music for large instrumental groups such as bands or orchestras is contrapuntal at least some of the time.
- Music that is mostly homophonic can become temporarily polyphonic if an independent countermelody is added. Think of a favorite pop or gospel tune that, near the end, has the soloist "ad libbing" while the back-up singers repeat the refrain.