Questions tagged [counterpoint]

Questions relating to the uses, history, types, or analysis of counterpoint.

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81 views

What is cantus firmi?

As I understand cantus firmi means that fixed songs and it is used in counterpoint melodies but I could not understand why is it called cantus firmi and its function. Does anybody know why is it ...
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¿What textbook do you suggest to study counterpoint? [closed]

Counterpoint is very important to raise skills in music composition and improvisation. What method or publication do you suggest?
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48 views

Is there a way to recognize the canonic (or generally imitative) potential in a given harmonic progression?

Suppose given a bass melody with either thoroughbass figuring or Roman numeral analysis. Is there a way to quasi-instantly recognize whether this bass melody admits of a canonic (or more generally, ...
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1answer
32 views

How important is consonance/dissonance in suspensions?

It’s difficult for me to really hear any (harmonic) consonance or dissonance value when two notes are heard at the same time, but do NOT begin at the same time. As a listener, I find myself more drawn ...
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4answers
316 views

Is the bottom note of an interval favored?

I was practicing counterpoint (2nd species) and decided to experiment with ending on a perfect 5th except the top line was a C and the bottom an F. I know this isn't technically allowed in 2nd species,...
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3answers
667 views

Is there a rational method to find out which minor scale sounds best in a given situation?

By rational I mean a method that doesn't entirely depend on one's subjective aesthetics, but rather one that has some kind of system behind it. The obvious rule that you should use the ascending ...
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1answer
41 views

How did baroque composers write sequences that are both imitative and modulatory?

Still working on my Bach-style fugue. And I wonder, how did composers of that time-period come up with all those sequential episodes in their fugues? I know that there is a certain standard ...
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102 views

How would one go about composing a Tintinnabuli piece?

I've been doing some research on the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt lately, known best for his simple yet highly emotive Tintinnabuli compositions. The theory behind it is incredibly dense and difficult ...
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808 views

What is more important, avoiding parallel octaves between non-chord tones, or keeping a stretto exact?

I'm writing a fugue, and I've managed an almost perfect two-voiced stretto. Except that I get parallel octaves between two notes in the figuration. See image, last beat of m. 15. Which would be ...
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3answers
44 views

What kinds of melodies tend to sound good under melodic inversion?

The other day I was trying to write a canon by inversion, and I wondered whether there are any general guidelines (other than trial and error) as to what kinds of melodies tend to sound "good" under ...
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81 views

How do/did composers deal with very many contrapuntal voices?

A work that I've admired as long as I've known about it is Antonio Caldara's Crucifixus for 16 voices. YouTube video here. It does make me wonder how a composer like Caldara (or Thomas Tallis for ...
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Does dissonance create movement in counterpoint?

I’m studying first species counterpoint and trying to wrap my head around why we try not to use unisons, octaves and perfect 5ths outside of the beginning and end. I understand that unisons, octaves ...
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98 views

Counterpoint with more than 4 parts

In Rachmaninoff Prelude in B Minor Op. 32 No. 10 I've noticed that not all voices are 4 parts. In fact I've noticed that in 19th century and 20th century music there's more than 4 parts in a harmony. ...
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Am I understanding counterpoint correctly?

I’m in the midst of trying to grasp counterpoint and I’m at a bit of a stand still in terms of my understanding of it. I want to be able to go beyond memorizing the rules and really understand the ...
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44 views

How did counterpoint, harmonic rhythm, and thoroughbass interact in the late-Baroque instrumental fugal style?

It may be considered common knowledge that frequent root changes, i.e., a fast harmonic rhythm, usually cause a piece to be perceived as being more purely "harmonic" and less polyphonic in nature. (...
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How to best understand first species counterpoint/counterpoint in general?

I'm diving into counterpoint because I want to have a better understanding of diatonic/ tonal harmony. I figured that counterpoint would be a good place to start and so far it does seem promising. My ...
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1answer
46 views

What is considered best practice for notating three polyphonic voices on a single staff?

Some keyboard pieces (the couple of five-part fugues from Bach's WTC, for example) require cramming five polyphonic voices onto just two staves. Usually this means three voices to either the upper or ...
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45 views

What would be a good harmonic progression for this example? [closed]

For my advanced theory seminar class this semester, I am being introduced to formal counterpoint writing procedures. For a homework assignment this week, I have to write a good bass line (First ...
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3answers
70 views

Why do modal chants sometimes end on another chord than the tonic chord?

I see a lot of organ accompaniments to Gregorian chants, eg Attende Domine or something from a Kyriale, starting and ending on another chord than the tonic/finalis. A phrygian melody might have the ...
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2answers
137 views

Another Counterpoint Dissonance Handling Question… Species Counterpoint

I am harmonizing a Mozart soprano melody with a musical friend. Now, I could scour the internet for a week trying to figure this out, but I figured I would instead ask the music.stackexchange Gods ...
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3answers
93 views

Resolving chordal 7th, Counterpoint question

This is the second episode of a fugue I have completed. Here is the link to the full thing: https://musescore.com/williamjegertiii/g-major-fugue-adagietto-synth-and-beat At any rate, I've been ...
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43 views

How to improve the harmonic cohesion of my canon?

So this canon is what ends the Presto section of my Springtime Springs piece. As it is now, I only get 2 parallel fifths and no parallel octaves in the entire canon, which I am fine with, since I am ...
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Additional reasons why perfect 5th is forbidden in contrapuntal writing (other than voice independence)

When textbooks explain why parallel (consecutive) fifths are forbidden, they always say that it undermines the voice independence. I disagree with this, though. If voice dependence is the reason for ...
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807 views

What words should be used to describe “mathematically precise” music?

Imagine you are working with a fugue of Bach or any other composers, which is well-written, clever, and perfect. Such music: Uses the minimal amount of thematic material. Includes very clever ...
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1answer
48 views

Is modulation used as a tool to create climax?

And the further you modulate away from the tonic key, the more tension you create? I've been looking over both of Rachmanioff's op. 33 and 39 etude tableau and notice regular climax in his music. So ...
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530 views

Clarification of the importance of step-progressions

I was rereading Kent Kennan's "Counterpoint", and I kind of cannot grasp the notion that he is introducing there and would kindly use your help. I understand the definition (or so I think) but it ...
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6answers
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What is the purpose of the rules in counterpoint composition?

When composing in any form of counterpoint, there are many, many rules to follow. But why? What is the ultimate goal of following the(se) formula(s)?
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67 views

How do you decide which is counterpoint and which is harmony in a heavily chromatic passage?

I was just thinking. Would one possible way of working out which is counterpoint and which is harmony, be to figure out what the harmonic rhythm is. Write out all of the notes and then stack the notes ...
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1answer
146 views

What are the characteristics of Late Romantic Russian Music?

I've been recently listening to some late Romantic Russian music (Lyapunov, Kalinnikov, Tchaikovsky, etc.) and was wondering how best to mimic this style. So far, I've observed a handful of shared ...
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487 views

What makes a good fugue subject?

Realization I think I might have found my weakness in fugue writing, and it is one that isn't easily helped by all the counterpoint studies that I have been doing. That is the part of the fugue that ...
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4answers
132 views

Is Counterpoint always possible?

I've searched for this question online many times, but never found anything close to an answer: Given a cantus firmus, is it always possible to do counterpoint with it? The rules don't appear to ...
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Constraints for doubling upper voices in 4-part harmony

What are some guidelines for doubling the same tone in the upper voices (tenor, alto, soprano) on the same pitch, as well as in different octaves? I am specifically talking about doubling in upper ...
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736 views

Why does the leading tone (G#) go to E rather than A in this example?

Why does the leading tone (G#) go to E rather than A in this example?
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In modal counterpoint for more than two parts, should every pair of voices be in “good” two-part counterpoint?

When checking my own three- and four-part modal exercises, I regularly run into questions like the following: if the bass has the CF, the alto is in 2nd species and the soprano in 3rd species, how ...
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1answer
68 views

Dissonances with bass versus in upper voices. 4-part harmony

Working through "Guide to practical harmony" of Tchaikovsky in chapter 9 about the inversions of diminished and augmented triads, we read that the first inversion of the diminished triad is consonant ...
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506 views

How to realize a figured bass

I am arranging a Bach piece. I know, what the challenge it is to do it. But I have been able to successfully arrange Mozart and later, Beethoven, so I think I'm ready. But here is the challenge I am ...
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134 views

Hidden fifths between tenor and soprano in Tchaikovsky's “Guide to harmony”

I have been working through Tchaikovsky's "Guide to practical harmony" and found the following example quite early in the book: I am talking about the first measure. To me it seems that soprano and ...
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Can the leading note resolve down?

Would like to ask if the leading tone in chord V (G) could resolve downwards to Eb (fifth of chord I)? I’ve somehow recall reading that the rule (leading note MUST resolve to tonic) only applies to ...
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198 views

Why is there an octave leap in this example from Gradus ad parnassum?

In bars 5-6 the lower note jumps an octave. Why is this good? To me it sounds like it is not musical enough. Too big of a leap. Please help me understand this octave leap. I have seen octave leaps ...
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Rules for building cantus firmus in Fux

I am currently working through "Gradus ad Parnassum" in its english translation (Alfred Mann). In chapter One "Note against Note" (p. 27) I encounter "Principles for the forming of the melodies are ...
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102 views

How to turn Beethoven's fifth into a fugue?

I am composing a Theme and Variations based on the first theme of Beethoven's fifth. And one of the variations that I plan on doing is a fugal variation. I decided to write the fugal variation first, ...
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180 views

How to diffrentiate countermelody from arpeggiated accompaniament?

I wonder what would be main difference between arpeggiated accompaniament and counter melody. Could it be the rule that if it's an arpeggiated accompaniament then it would be more repetitive (because ...
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Is counterpoint still used today?

I was wondering if counterpoint is still used today or was it something that was just used by Bach? Does modern music like pop songs use it?
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Will this help me avoid parallel octaves in future fugue attempts?

So, I wrote a canon before I was even thinking about writing a fugue and I found it to be trivially easy. But then again, I did take the Pachelbel approach, decide on a bass line and then make ...
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108 views

How exactly is climax defined?

I am learning rules of counterpoints using this source. One of the rules there states: The CF must have a unique culmination (climax). I would like to be sure that I understand climax properly. ...
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What can be “two horizontal intervals of equal distance and discordant” on diatonic scale?

I keep reading this set of rules for counterpoint. The rule number G5 states: If there are two horizontal intervals of equal distance and discordant, the next interval must differ. I try to ...
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858 views

Is one octave above tonic also considered as tonic?

I try to learn rules of counterpoint. Yesterday I got this nice source of rules. The second rule there states: The 7th degree must resolve to the tonic, or it can descend stepwise if the ...
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176 views

Should we avoid two consecutive leaps forming triads in cantus firmus?

Currently I am reading this set of rules used for creation of cantus firmus. The rule VII.E states: Avoid two consecutive leaps forming triads Is this rule correct? I am in doubt since I thought ...
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What is “leading note” and what does it mean to “raise a note”?

I try to learn rules of how basic melody ("Cantus Firmus") should be built. At the moment I read this document. The second rule there is: The penultimate note should go to the final in a stepwise ...
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127 views

Do parts need to overlap in order to be considered as imitation?

I understand that imitation is repetition within a polyphonic texture...so my understanding is that for example, when the trumpet part repeats the string part at 0:21 in this piece by Handel ( ...