4

I am learning rules of counterpoint. One of the rules states:

Do not make stepwise concordant movements longer than a fifth.

As far as I understand stepwise movement is either 2nd minor or second major. So, it is either one semi-tone or one tone. Both are dissonant. So, they are discordant (not concordant).

So, how can stepwise movement be concordant?

Here is the source of the rules that I am using.

  • 2
    Can you give the source of that rule? It seem like it means 5 consecutive consonant intervals where one voice is always moving stepwise, like 5 consecutive thirds. – Michael Curtis May 2 at 15:38
4

I think the rule would result in examples like these...

enter image description here

...where the rules says to avoid movement like the first two examples.

The third is OK - by the rule - because there is at least one dissonance.

I haven't seen a rule with the specific wording, but the general principle is...

  • use a variety of intervals and motion types to create interesting counterpoint
  • use dissonance as a dynamic force to move the music forward.

...do not understand how a concordant movement can be longer than fifth. The only allowed intervals that are larger than 5th are minor 6th and octave.

I think the misunderstanding comes from the rule being poorly worded. Maybe they should use range. "...stepwise movement ranging more than a fifth..." Such movement would be the parts I circled in red. I don't think they mean the size of a melodic leap.

The "concordant" part could refer to melodic intervals like the tritone F leaping up to B which is often avoided. That that melodic concord meaning doesn't make sense to specify when the movement is already described as step-wise. I can only assume the concords are those formed in counterpoint with another line.

I'm still not sure where you got this rule. If you don't have a copy of Fux's species counterpoint, you should try to get one. It's one of the seminal counterpoint books. Personally, I have more faith in "rules" when they come from the most authoritative sources... or from real scores.

  • this are computer rules for cantus firmus and counter point: the general rules with MR (majority rules) mean that not all writers and theorists share the same opinion. That means: also the rules by Fux are opinion based. This is my opinion ;) – Albrecht Hügli May 2 at 17:24
  • Sure, "rules" in art aren't really rules. I had a feeling the paper was about computer programming. I only skimmed the abstract. – Michael Curtis May 2 at 17:28
  • @MichaelCurtis, thanks for the answer. I still do not get what "concordant" refers to in the rule that I have cited. Is it about the total interval spanned by the compound motion (the one that is not allowed to be "longer than 5th")? I tend to think that the author of the rule meant that each move is concordant and the sum of those moves cannot be larger than 5th. – Roman May 3 at 11:44
  • Concordant mean consonant. They are synonymous terms. Concord and discord being the same as consonance and dissonance. – Michael Curtis May 3 at 13:08
3

I suspect that your source for that rule is this paper, and I note that the authors appear to be Italian. The English awkward in many places, not least in the phrase "longer than a fifth," and I suspect that stepwise is a mistranslation from some Italian word. It is clear from the context that the word should instead be consecutive.

  • I also found this source (that I've accidentally downloaded the other day). MR means: not all the autors share the same opinion. I'll add the picture to my answer. – Albrecht Hügli May 2 at 16:10
  • @phoog, thanks for the answer. I sill do not understand how a concordant movement can be longer than fifth. The only allowed intervals that are larger than 5th are minor 6th and octave. Both of them are note concordant (they are consonant). – Roman May 2 at 16:44
  • @Roman isn't "concordant" synonymous with "consonant"? You implied as much in your question. – phoog May 2 at 16:52
1

It means what Michael assumes:

Do not make longer passages with parallel thirds or sixths (maximum four episodes)

(as four steps will be a fifth)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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