I'm trying to learn counterpoint with the help of the Gradus.

I think I've made many mistakes but I'm not sure if they're allowed or not.

At bar 62 (upbeat) you may see an augmented fourth, used as a passing tone. Dissonance is allowed if used as a passing note: am I right? Does the same rules applies for the so hated augmented fourth?

At bar 69 (upbeat) I approach an octave with the bass moving not by step and, most importantly, I hit a fifth just right after at bar 70. Is this allowed?

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To answer your questions:

In m.62, what you have done is OK since it moves by step and is resolved into an imperfect consonance by step and by contrary motion, so that is handled correctly. However, you've broken a rule getting into m.62 by not moving by step in opposite direction after a leap larger than a third. An easy solution would be to start your counterpoint at the unison.

Skipping into an octave by oblique motion on the 2nd beat is OK under normal circumstances, however, it leads to a really, really ugly ending for your counterpoint - all those leaps up to the leading tone! :O

Other Errors:

  • line direction m.61-62
  • sequence m.63-64
  • unresolved Bb m.64
  • successive skips m.64-65
  • too many notes in one direction m.65-68
  • skip and step in same direction m. 65-66
  • leaps too large m.68-69
  • successive skips m.68-70
  • outlining a dissonant interval m.69-70

Also, read my post here about use of accidentals in counterpoint, it may clear up some of your confusion.

Lastly, the occasional counterpoint question check is okay but make sure your questions can apply to a larger audience and not your homework assignments - as a teacher, I grade enough students' counterpoint exercises as it is (plus it's less helpful for other people coming to SE for answers!)

Hope this helps.

  • As someone who does (historical) music composition recreationally, not as part of classwork, I appreciated the case study here. I wouldn't want to see this site be only that, but a well-structured one can help people beyond the OP. (But yeah, including just the relevant phrases rather than the whole piece is better.) – Monica Cellio Oct 16 '13 at 15:50
  • By the way, I was wondering: did you include in your list only errors or also things which may be accepted but regarded as bad practise? For example, what do you mean by "line direction m.61-62"? I'm moving from an octave to a sixth: can't I use parallel motion and any leap not larger than a major sixth? I'm really sorry to bother you and I'll understand if I have to post these concerns in a separate question. – Saturnix Oct 17 '13 at 20:37
  • @Saturnix - I only included errors. Your line direction is incorrect as it should move by step in the opposite direction after a leap of a third or larger. That leap would have been permissible (albeit a little startling) if it had moved by step in the opposite direction instead of continuing on in the same direction. – jjmusicnotes Oct 18 '13 at 0:36

JJMusicNotes has some great answers. I'd just add that the issue here is not bringing in an augmented 4th, but a diminished fifth -- they behave quite differently in modal counterpoint. Generally, diminished fifths are more accepted than augmented fourths.

I agree definitely that there are too many leaps moving towards the end and the M9 in 68-69 could be fixed pretty easily. The M7 in 69-70 bothers me less because presumably it will resolve upwards in a moment.


Folks above wrote some great stuff. But the short answer is yes. It counts as a dissonance. Any dissonance is permissible as a passing tone.

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