If I had a V - I progression with ^5 in the soprano the counterpoint would be 8tv and 5th which would be fine because you are moving between two perfect intervals in oblique motion. But I am writing a piece of music where I want my outer voices to obey the rules of counterpoint but that static soprano line is a bit bland so I was wondering what would happen if I took it up an octave? So still ^5 in the soprano over both chords but for the I chord it would be ^5 an octave higher. If my melody and bass went up together then I was wondering if in counterpoint that would be bad form as I am leaping into a perfect interval in similar motion or would the fact that my soprano was already on the same note before the leap an octave lower make it ok?

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1 Answer 1


I am assuming your oblique motion is case A).

a musical staff with examples

Large leaps are generally frowned upon in counterpoint, especially in the older vocal styles, and your use B) would likely be bad similar motion from a unison or octave to a perfect fifth. Even with contrary motion consecutive fifths and octaves D) are frowned on, though may see isolated use as the number of other voices increases, and are "rare in compositions in only two parts." (Sixteenth Century Polyphony-A Basic for the Study of Counterpoint. Arthur Tillman Merrit. 1939. p.62.)

On the other hand you may have enough other voices, and may not be laboring under strict scholastic counterpoint, nor under vocal range restrictions. However, the direct similar motion of the Soprano and Bass from, say, G and G to G-up-an-octave and C-above-G would be disallowed by most counterpoint styles.

You may also run into texture problems (the leaps have put the voices too far apart, perhaps less of a problem in an instrumental work) or voice leading problems: leaps are often corrected for by a step in the opposite direction, and you have two voices that just leaped in the same direction, which may create more problems C) if you follow the rule that the tritone B-F can only appear in the first inversion.

\score { \new Staff << { << { \stemUp \relative d'' {
  \mark "A)"
  g~ g
  \bar "||"
  \mark "B)"
  g, g'
  \bar "||"
  \mark "C)"
  g, g' f
  \bar "||"
  \mark "D)"
  g, c
} } \\ { \stemDown \relative g' {
  g_"ok" c
  g c_"x"
  g c_"x" b_"x"
  g c,_":( ?"
} } >> } >> }

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