Questions tagged [counterpoint]

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

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46 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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114 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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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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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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9answers
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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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3answers
790 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
45 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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442 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
2k views

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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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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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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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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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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733 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
60 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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295 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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1answer
106 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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103 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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1answer
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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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1answer
132 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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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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817 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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1answer
142 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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1answer
103 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 ( ...
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Kinetic Rhythm in Pop Music

This is something I've noticed that I don't hear anyone really talking about... Essentially it's the way that separate rhythmic elements of most pop songs interact in a kinetic way with one another. ...
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Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor breaks the “no parallel octaves” rule?

I notice in his BWV 565, more well known as Toccata and Fugue in D minor, what looks like a lot of parallel octaves in the fugue. I have studied counterpoint before and every counterpoint resource I ...
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Would the melodic leap of the opening phrase of Mozart's K545 be considered dissonant?

The Complete Musician by Steven Laitz states that melodic intervals larger than a fifth are considered dissonant and should be avoided. It also states that two leaps of a third are fine, provided you ...
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How to identify modes in Medieval counterpoint?

I am reading through Alfred Mann's Translation of Gradus Ad Parnassum (The Study of Counterpoint), but one thing confuses me. In the first species, this counterpoint is shown to be correct: But this ...
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1answer
153 views

Melodic lines are diatonic, harmony doesn't seem to be

Okay so this is something that I came across as I was writing my canons and analyzing the harmony to try to figure out which canon is best for my symphony. There is a section in one of my canons where ...
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How to realize the figured bass of the second movement of BWV 1014?

I am planning a performance of the second movement of Bach's violin sonata BWV 1014 in B Minor. The beginning of second mvt, Allegro is shown below. As you can see there are some figured bass below ...
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1answer
89 views

Close transposition but want to avoid dissonance

So I had this idea to have a march in canon. So I would have a rhythmic cell like this: to give a march-like feeling. I have decided on 6 rhythmic cells before a note change and going up 1 note and ...
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Countersubject strategy, is my strategy a good one? [closed]

Introduction So, I have always been kind of on and off about writing fugues. Bach keeps encouraging me to write a fugue and when I am in fugue mode, Bach is all I listen to. After all, who better to ...
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1answer
59 views

In Second Species Composition, how do you traverse an octave between downbeats

From what I understand you can have an octave leap from one downbeat to the next in first species as long as it rebounds with a step in the opposite direction. However, in programming second species,...
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How to go about writing a second countersubject?

I have written a subject and countersubject. Here is how I went about writing the countersubject: 1st iteration: Restricted to D, G, and A(answer is is D major), all quarter notes 2nd iteration: A ...
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Interval analysis, augmented 5th or a 6th?

I am doing interval analysis as I am writing a countersubject(working on the harmony for it right now). But I have a bit of trouble here. I have 3 note choices for any given quarter note. The spot I ...
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How to keep going in the fugue

So I decided to start over my fugue writing. I had a good subject but it was overwhelming to compose it and I forgot so much about the fugue that I am restarting it. I have been doing all these ...
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How to apply counterpoint to my own compositions?

I recently learned the five species of counterpoint, but feel like I am not grasping the significance of counterpoint in music. I get the feeling these principles may be used to write a bass line for ...
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What does Satb theory say about moving octave C into a perfect fiftth?

On a piano you could play octave C moving to G-D. The high C moves up to D and the lower C moves up to G. X:1 L:1/2 M: K:C %%score B V:B clef=bass % 1 [V:B] [C,C] [G,D] What would four-...
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333 views

Key modulation in a fugue, how to not lose sight of the tonic?

Now I'm having some more trouble with my fugue. But this time it has to do with key modulation. I feel my fugue is becoming too jazzy thanks to the modulation. There are the primary modulations(from ...
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Why is writing in free counterpoint so hard? [closed]

I have had this overwhelming feeling for weeks. 1 day I even had to listen to Mozart just to go to sleep because I was feeling so overwhelmed. I have tried everything I did in the past for composer's ...
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439 views

Is 2 measures sufficient for a fugue subject?

I know what a fugue is. I also have been reading up on the form of the fugue and how to write in counterpoint. I wrote a canon and I have written a sonatina using sonata form. So theoretically a fugue ...
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1answer
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Gradus ad parnassum: what does “seven must be set with third” mean?

So I came around this example in Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum (p.98) The purple dot marks bar 6. Joseph considers it an error, as explained here: What does "the seventh must be set with the third" ...