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I am using a counterpoint rules plugin on MuseScore, and I am having trouble understanding the issues with my music. I am wondering if I am doing something wrong or if I am not interpreting the plugin properly/if I need to look into the settings. This is what the plugin looks like (it's actually a really amazing tool):

These are the settings I used when I ran the plugin for the instances mentioned below

The following are two examples of issues that I do not understand:

I don't know what any of these mean.

Regarding the next case: I am somewhat familiar with suspensions, anticipations, resolving dissonances by step, having dissonances sound on weak beats, etc etc . . . that being said, I have no idea what is up with all the "untreated dissonances" here:

Apparently I am breaking some rule regarding dissonances big time.  I don't plan on changing the music much, but I am very curious as to what the plugin sees as a problem.

Any idea what the machine is trying to tell me?

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    It's possible that your use of rests is throwing off the plugin's ability to analyze whether disonances are treated/resolved or untreated/unresolved.
    – Dekkadeci
    May 20 at 12:12
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The first thing I notice is the measure numbers don't make sense. It would help if you added measure number to each bar of your work so the plugin comments would be easier to relate back to the measures.

Some of the terms like "upper focal point" I don't recognize. I think it may mean a repeated highest tone in the line, called the climax sometimes. A general guideline for a melody it to have one climax near or just after the middle of the line. It may be calling out that.

You need to read the documentation, if there is any, for the plug in to understand what those messages really mean. But, honestly, I'm pretty doubtful about this plug in as a counterpoint study tool. It seems like it could be useful if you already know counterpoint methods and can then set the plugin options.

Fux's Study of Counterpoint is the original species counterpoint text. It an undisputed seminal work. It should be a precursor to using this plugin. The first sections on two part counterpoint are not too long. The writing style is conversational (literally, it's a dialog.) The plugin is working according to Fux's methods, even if indirectly through other species counterpoint texts.

Some general observations.

  • The tritone in m. 2 or ex. 1, is a strong dissonance, usually avoided.
  • M. 1, ex. 2, I understand this is a neighbor tone motion, but in species counterpoint I think you would avoid it as too repetitive. "Variety of tones" is one of the guiding principles. If you allowed for the repeated, return to a tone in E D E, you would at least expect the other voice to move from C to something else, and not involve another repeated tone with C C.
  • M. 3, ex. 2, you have a direct fifth, normally avoided, then the next thing is a leap to a dissonance with A in the bass and G in treble. You don't leap to dissonances, you prepare dissonances.

You might try thinking about counterpoint from two principle aspects: relative motion plus variety of tones. With relative motion there are certain "don'ts" like no parallel perfect consonances, and "does" like similar motion to imperfect consonances, or another "do" like prepare dissonances. Those are all just A to B single progressions, but if you really understand them, you've won half the battle. Then relative motion is continued in accordance with the variety of tone principle. Basically, don't repeat stuff. Don't keep using the same intervals, don't repeat tones, don't do melodic sequences, etc. etc.

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  • Thank you. 1. Does it help that the Tritone is on a weak beat and then resolved?; 2. If my intention was to repeat the same chord (C major), then would you still suggest using a different note? Maybe an E note?; 3a. By direct fifth you just mean the use of a P5, right? The issue isn't parallel fifths?; 3b. How can I prepare the dissonance in this case? Is it a rhythmic or a melodic solution?
    – 286642
    May 20 at 19:04
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    It's hard to comment on the specifics because your measures are all chopped up. But, "cons imperfect..." means you should have more imperfect than perfect consonances, more 3rds/6ths, less 5ths/8vas, that's just a stylistic thing from late Medieval onward, 3rds/6ths were preferred. "Final interval" I think it's complaint is you didn't end on the tonic. In the first ex. you have the plugin set to tonic C, then end with bass of F which isn't the tonic. May 21 at 15:30
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    Seriously, you have the cart in front of the horse. Don't keep trying to debug/decipher the plugin. Read Fux, at least the beginning sections in two parts, and do the exercises given to the student Josephus in the text. You should be able to do it in a few weeks. The English translation is by Mann. You can read it along with this cheatsheet joegilman.com/mufhl400_fuxfordummies.pdf. May 21 at 15:36
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    About the first comment - "If my intention was to repeat the same chord (C major)" - that's going about species counterpoint wrong, both about repeating and thinking about chords. Think (generically) triad, specifically about intervals and relative motion. Modern thinking will translate a lot of that into harmonic terms, you can do it, but it will interfere with counterpoint study, thinking in counterpoint. About direct fifths, again it about relative motion, a P5 approached by similar motion. May 21 at 15:42
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    One thing I did with Fux's two part section was catalog all the two step progression by interval, so Fux labels progressions like 5 3 to mean a perfect fifth to a third. I call one of those two step progressions a "bi-gram." I found 40 specific bi-grams in the two-part examples. I separated by relative motion type so I could see Fux did 5 3 by oblique, similar, and contrary motion. Then you can examine how there is only one way to do 5 3 by contrary motion, but many for oblique and similar. This is how to think about it, not chords. May 21 at 16:03
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I'm not sure how the program works. I think (in your second example) is that the dissonance in measure 1 is a ninth and the ninth often resolves downward. In measure 3, the dissonance is a minor seventh which does mostly resolve downward (here replacing the treble clef A by an F may be smoother.

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  • I just did some experimenting. It turns out the error goes away when I divide the duration of the offending note in half. Probably some textbook definition of a proper suspension or something. I listened to it, and it destroyed the flow of the melody in my opinion.
    – 286642
    May 20 at 4:04
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    @285542 - Did the original version or the version where you divide the duration of the offending note in half destroy the flow of the melody?
    – Dekkadeci
    May 20 at 12:09
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Some critiques

  1. The tie in beat one is unnecessary. You don't tie notes within a beat. That should be notated as a minim.
  2. You seem to have C:V but you omit the leading tone so what chord that exactly is is unclear.
  3. You then seem to jump from a G to a C, which gives you the idea of a C chord in second inversion, but again no leading tone that resolves makes the chord progression unsatisfying.
  4. You then have a very weird syncopation that I cannot understand what the purpose of is.
  5. Also you seem very fond of tieing over a beat, probably best not to do that too much, you want clear beats.

You can easily make the concept of a suspension easier by just having the B and the C notes as minims

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