So yeah, just as it sounds like, I will be composing a sonata. It will be in the style of Beethoven. The first movement will be slow and quiet mostly. Of course I will be using dissonance such as a diminished 7th just like Beethoven did in his sonatas.

And there are several ways I could add drama to the sonata(which is crucial for a Beethoven style sonata) besides dissonance. Here they are:

  • Crescendo and diminuendo

  • Change in rhythm but tempo kept the same

  • Change in tempo

  • Change of key

  • Counterpoint

Now I was thinking of maybe doing some counterpoint in the development of the first movement. Like having the development be a fugetto(little fugue) for example. But counterpoint is so rarely used these days in compositions. It sort of died off when Bach died.

Of all the pieces I have heard, most pieces using counterpoint are by Bach. I mean Beethoven did compose a fugue for a string quartet and there have been instances when I heard a fugatto in 1 of Mozart's pieces but mostly, it was Bach who composed famous pieces using counterpoint.

I believe counterpoint needs a revival. It's so amazing how much you can get out of a single melody. And even quite a few simpler pieces by Bach use counterpoint. In counterpoint you can have just 2 melodic lines or you can have 4 or more.

But if I want to write a fugue, even if it is just a fugetto for a sonata, how would I go about doing that on just 2 staves? I don't know of any fugues with just 2 melodic lines(doesn't mean that couldn't be possible though). I think 1 of the reasons it was easy for Bach to write fugues is that a lot of them he composed for the organ which uses 3 staves(and at the time was 2 keyboards + foot pedals, some modern organs have way more than just 2 keyboards). I only have a piano and have rarely seen an organ in person. So I only have 2 staves to work with, 1 for the right hand and the other for the left hand. I'm probably going to have to use the sustain pedal in my sonata composition, but especially in the fugetto.

But how would I write in counterpoint? It seems so complicated even though you are using simple melodies to make a complicated piece.

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    It sounds like you've just leaned to swim, and you're planning to swim the Atlantic! I wouldn't think even JS managed a good counterpoint first (or even 10th ) time. Start small, and take really simple tunes - nursery songs - and get started there. There's more mileage than you might think. – Tim Jun 28 '18 at 7:35
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    You could write whole books on this subject. – Neil Meyer Jun 28 '18 at 7:37
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    "But counterpoint ... sort of died off when Bach died." WHAT????? Almost all classical keyboard harmony is basically 3 part counterpoint. It follows exactly the same principles of voice leading as Bach (as described in CPE Bach's "Essay on the true art of playing keyboard instruments") – user19146 Jun 28 '18 at 9:43
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    Beethoven wrote "complete" fugues in the sonatas Op 106 and 110, also string quartets Op 131 and 133, and the Cello sonata Op 102 no 2. All those were late works, so counterpoint wasn't "dying out" for Beethoven – user19146 Jun 28 '18 at 12:09
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    A better approach is to pick a 2-part invention by Bach, analyze the chords completely, then create your own two-measure motif, and write a 2-part invention based on your motif and copying Bach's changes. Then do the same for a three part fugue. Then write your sonata. – Todd Wilcox Jun 28 '18 at 13:31

Counterpoint is alive and well! We use it every time we make a decision about similar and contrary motion between a melody and a bass line, every time we echo a fragment of melody in an accompaniment.

But yes, the monumental contrapuntal 'set pieces' are a feature of the Baroque style. And if you look at the scores, you'll find that two staves were plenty for 3, 4, even 5-part counterpoint playable by two hands on a keyboard.

Here's the beginning of Fugue 1 from 'The 48'.

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But I wouldn't start there. Look at the 2 and 3-part Inventions. Plenty of counterpoint, without the formal requirements of a fugue.

enter image description here

Plenty more study material available at IMSLP Enjoy!

(Note, however, that if you're attempting a Beethoven pastiche, although counterpoint certainly IS characteristic, going into a full-blown fugue isn't really.)

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