Assuming Fux's counterpoint was written in 1752, why are there some references to the modal system and none to tonality? I mean... 1752 is way beyond the end of modality! Composers already had the notion of tonality in 1700: or am I wrong? If not, why did Fux didn't reference tonality but just write about the modal system?

  • If 1752 is way beyond the end of modality, why is 1970's fusion chock full of it ... :)
    – Kaz
    Jan 27, 2014 at 19:52
  • @Kaz because hey man, it's like cool can you dig.
    – BobRodes
    Feb 6, 2014 at 20:53

1 Answer 1


First, Gradus ad Parnassum was completed in 1725 (not 1752), so it's a bit earlier than you think, although still in the time frame when tonality was becoming common.

Second, Fux was intentionally looking back to earlier styles of music, explicitly the music of Palestrina (who died 1594), and was, in a sense, taking a historical view even when it first published. In his introduction he even indicates that Aloysious, the teacher in the dialog, is his surrogate for Palestrina.

  • 4
    Agreed with Dave here - functional harmony and roman numerals wouldn't really take hold for a few more decades. When Fux published, it was 25 years before JS Bach passed. Back then, people thought linearly; vertical sonorities were the result of careful voice leading and treatment of dissonance. Also keep in mind that secular music developed out of sacred, and modality held a stranglehold on music for quite a number of years. Jan 27, 2014 at 8:15

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