1

Lately i've become interested in counterpoint composition within a more contemporary jazz tonality framework (20th century and beyond) for two or more voices.

How would you go about accomplishing something like that? Any advice would be appreciated (extra credit for external references).

  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the help center states that questions should not be about "requesting external resources (questions should be specific and answerable on this site; external links are for references and supporting material)." – jdjazz Feb 25 '18 at 17:19
  • 2
    Now your question just seems unclear or overly broad. "How would you go about accomplishing something like that?" Something like what? Writing counterpoint in a jazz style? Learning about counterpoint in jazz? – ex nihilo Feb 25 '18 at 20:50
  • 2
    Erik, I have two recommendations: (1) remove the parenthetical ("extra credit for external references") because you're still asking for external resources. (2) Phrase exactly what you'd like to understand: "how is jazz counterpoint for 2+ voices different from traditional classical counterpoint?" or "what are the rules for writing jazz counterpoint for 2+ voices?" or something along those lines. – jdjazz Feb 25 '18 at 21:58
  • 1
    @jdjazz on point 1), references are almost always seen as a good thing on Stack Exchange sites in general... – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 25 '18 at 22:31
  • 2
    @jdjazz I definitely see your point, and yet as music.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic states that external links for references and supporting material are a valid part of an answer, is it really fair to call out the question for stating that that part of an answer could be especially valuable? I still wonder if we're criticising the question more for something it said before the edit, rather than something it says now. – topo Reinstate Monica Feb 26 '18 at 9:46
3

When I think of counterpoint in jazz, I immediately think of the late Jimmy Wyble and his etudes for guitar. He has at least a couple books and while the original is out of print I think, "The Art of Two-Line Improvisation" is still available. David Oakes, a former student of his, also has a great tribute page with a bunch Jimmy's material. Another Wyble disciple, Sid Jacobs, has some masterclasses [1][2] on counterpoint.

Also legendary guitar teacher Ted Greene used to talk counterpoint quite a bit. There's a huge archive of his lesson material and arrangements on his site and a YouTube channel archiving video footage of him.

If your instrument isn't guitar, I'm not sure if any of that will help much or not. One of the big things about the Wyble etudes, and counterpoint on guitar in general, is that they are technically challenging due to fingering constraints. In other words, if you're familiar with counterpoint already, it may not break much new ground for you theoretically. But if you happen to be a guitarist, this kind of stuff is great for learning how to arrange it for guitar to be actually playable.

Those are just some examples off the top of my head with two or more actual voices. But I'd also look into how counterpoint figures in to jazz harmony in general. Especially within the concept of improvisation you can assume the other voice in the sense that you know the harmony will be implied. Even playing with just a bass player, you'll know that at least the bass will be there. That then makes your improvisation an ideal place to introduce contrapuntal concepts to imply and embellish the harmony in various ways, linearly. I'd check out Bert Ligon's Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony if you can.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.