Questions tagged [counterpoint]

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

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32
votes
11answers
36k views

How is counterpoint different from harmony?

Harmony is a kind of second sound you hear. Counterpoint is also the second sound you hear. Aside from technical differentiation, how can you by ear differentiate these two concepts. Is it possible ...
20
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2answers
11k views

Is there any real difference between Counterpoint and Polyphony?

From what I understand, they both kind of refer to the same thing. Why the need for 2 terms?
19
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4answers
4k views

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?
19
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2answers
2k views

Why is there a sharp and a natural over this Bb?

I'm studying a piece by palestrina (Agnus Dei is the title of this piece, but I'm not sure of the name of the work) and in this 3rd bar we have a sharp in the parenthesis and a natural over the B, ...
12
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3answers
1k views

Parallel Fifths in Pachelbel's Canon in D?

The other day, I was watching a scrolling score of Pachelbel's (in)famous Canon in D on Youtube, when I noticed something interesting. In the excerpt below, shouldn't the the circled notes in the 1st ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there some trick for counterpoint beyond 2 voices?

I really suck at chord harmony, so whenever I compose, I tend to use counterpoint a lot. Counterpoint is somewhat easy when you just have two voices. Because I just compose for fun, I generally do ...
11
votes
3answers
673 views

Are augmented fourth allowed in second species counterpoint?

I'm trying to learn counterpoint with the help of the Gradus. I think I've made many mistakes but I'm not sure if they're allowed or not. At bar 62 (upbeat) you may see an augmented fourth, used as ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Raised leading tones in Phrygian mode counterpoint

In most cases the penultimate note of the counterpoint will be the leading tone, which must be raised in minor to establish a sense of tonality. But why is the leading tone in the Phrygian mode (E-...
10
votes
3answers
527 views

Are minor sevenths allowed in baroque counterpoint?

Are minor sevenths allowed in baroque counterpoint? I ask because in the first measure of Bach's Invention No. 1 the upper voice and lower voice have an interval of a minor seventh (the upper voice ...
10
votes
5answers
3k views

Simple explanation of counterpoint?

Wikipedia defines counterpoint like this: In music, counterpoint is the relationship between voices that are interdependent harmonically (polyphony) yet independent in rhythm and contour. What ...
10
votes
3answers
682 views

Why does Fux use F# in his counterpoint to a firmus written in G mixolydian

In the given image below, Fux writes a counterpoint to a cantus firmus given to him as part of his studies by his fictitious teacher Aloysious. A rule that is often emphasised is that one should ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

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 ...
8
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4answers
3k views

What is the definition of counterpoint?

We see the concept of counterpoint in many contexts, from classical music composition to jazz improvisation. What is the definition of counterpoint?
8
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4answers
1k views

Online counterpoint materials

For a long time I've wanted to teach myself counterpoint, but haven't been able to find any materials online. Are there any hidden tutorials anyone knows of, or good books written in English in the ...
8
votes
2answers
371 views

Why in the study of counterpoint by johan fux are minor sixths allowed but not augmented fifth?

If augmented fifths and minor sixths are enharmonically equivalent why does johan fux in his book study of counterpoint allow minor sixths but not augmented fifths if they sound the same? How does one ...
8
votes
2answers
455 views

Intended tempo of exercises in Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum

Fux uses whole notes for the cantus firmi in his book, so do others influenced by his work. But I find them almost unbearably slow within the usual tempo ranges. I know that there must have been a ...
8
votes
4answers
915 views

Resources for “popular” counterpoint?

Basic "About Me:" I was a music and actuarial science double major, dropped the music major, and am now working as an actuarial educator full-time. I'd like to get back to composing. The biggest ...
7
votes
4answers
755 views

What's “species counterpoint”? Are there any other types of counterpoint?

I believe the title says it all. On Wikipedia it shows the five species but I have the idea that there is another type of counterpoint not based on those species. Is that vague idea of mine correct? I ...
7
votes
2answers
885 views

Accidentals in First Species Counterpoint

On page 39 of Alfred Mann's The Study of Counterpoint there is a passage concerning justification of using accidentals in first species counterpoint. Here is the passage: Aloys: [...]but why did ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the difference between sixteenth century counterpoint and eighteenth century counterpoint?

What's the difference between sixteenth century counterpoint and eighteenth century counterpoint? Is sixteenth century counterpoint melody or modal based (as this answer suggests) and eighteenth ...
7
votes
2answers
106 views

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 ...
7
votes
1answer
201 views

Linear Harmony = neo-medievalism?

How much can linear harmony (the Tonnetz, Neo-Riemannian theory) be explained, more than a century later, as a correction from overly vertical (chordal, Roman numeral, late 1700's) organization to ...
6
votes
1answer
257 views

Fux counterpoint: why is it in the modal system?

Assuming Fux's counterpoint was written in 1752, why are there some references to the modal system and none to tonality? I mean... 1752 is way beyond the end of modality! Composers already had the ...
6
votes
1answer
151 views

Are same interval leaps consented in second species counterpoint?

I've been told that, in second species counterpoint, presenting the same interval in 2 consecutive bars is an error. What then if the intervals skips in opposite directions? Like this: Is this ...
6
votes
2answers
293 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Are these parallel octaves?

I am writing a chorale in C flat major and I currently have a 3 chord going to a I6 chord. Stacked, the chords are EGEB to EGEC. Is this considered parallel octaves? HELP.
5
votes
4answers
755 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Are consecutive 3rds allowed in harmony?

In harmony, is it okay if there are consecutive 3rds in ii-V progression in two different bars?
5
votes
2answers
395 views

Is this a hidden consecutive fifth?

I am working through some beginner counterpoint exercises, and I wrote this harmony above part of a cantus firmus: . By my understanding this should be a 3rd to a 5th, which should be acceptable, ...
5
votes
4answers
486 views

Counter-example of counterpoint technique?

I'm trying to fully understand the concept that "Counterpoint" entails... but I can't seem to think any situation in which a counterpoint is not present on a song/piece/whatever. If counterpoint is ...
5
votes
3answers
775 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
183 views

Counterpoint (Fux): 3rd species, 3 voices, closing formulas

I am working my way through Gradus ad Parnassum (Mann translation). The chapter is: third species in three voices. At page 92, I see an example (Fig. 130) that ends like this: I cannot understand the ...
5
votes
1answer
84 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
239 views

What does “potential dissonance” or “potential consonance” mean?

The passage below is quoted from the paper, "Seven Steps to Heaven--A Species Approach to Twentieth Century Analysis and Composition" by Henry Martin. It should be emphasized that the ic-0 and ic-5 ...
4
votes
3answers
618 views

Dissonances and harmony

When I listen to Bach, Handel or Vivaldi (especially Baroque composers) every single note seems to fit there perfectly I mean pretty consonant to their location. As I was trying to learn tonal ...
4
votes
1answer
90 views

Questions about hexachord on p.31 of the Study of Counterpoint

p. 31 of The Study of Counterpoint by Johann Joseph Fux (translated by Alfred Mann) says: I don't understand what this page is telling us. I understand what a hexachord is. However, why note is G not ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Are counterpoint and harmony mutually exclusive?

I understand that harmony and counterpoint are more tools than set of rules to follow, the first works vertically, enhancing a single melody line, while the other combines multiple melody lines in a ...
4
votes
2answers
673 views

Omitting the 5th in four part counterpoint

When writing four part counterpoint in context of the common practice period it is common to omit the 5th of a chord when in a jam. Is it always ok to omit the 5th and are there times when the 5th of ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

leaps: small vs. large (learning counterpoint)

I'm reading Harmony in Context by Roig-Francoli as a first theory text to teach myself composition. In his Introduction to Species Counterpoint chapter, he mentions that the melody should consist of ...
4
votes
2answers
392 views

Diatonic Function of Accidentals in Counterpoint

Why is it in counterpoint that the fourth degree of natural mode "F" lowered to "Bb" instead of remaining as "B"? Why isn't the fourth degree lowered for other modes? Shouldn't the "B" remain ...
4
votes
1answer
308 views

At what point does one use fugue in the Gloria of the Mass Ordinary?

In setting the Mass Ordinary, what are the words that should be set in a fugue? "Cum Sancto Spiritu in gloria Dei Patris" or just "in gloria Dei Patris"? That's to say, is the entire Cum Sancto ...
4
votes
1answer
184 views

Older Hexachordal Systems referred to in The Study of Counterpoint

What are the hexachordal systems discussed in The Study of Counterpoint? I would like an explanation of them and how they relate to the modal first species exercises written out by Joseph. The ...
4
votes
3answers
956 views

Can modal counterpoint be studied without studying harmony? Where to start?

I have a background 1 year of harmony study and I'm now taking a non-western modal approach to music (trough Indian Classical Music, which is mainly monophonic and have no concept of harmony). I have ...
4
votes
3answers
132 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
47 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. ...
4
votes
2answers
69 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
158 views

Rules of rhythm (especially in regards to Palestrina-like counterpoint)

I've read a bunch of books and websites on florid counterpoint in 2-4 parts, but it seems like, while there are tons of rules for deciding which tones are okay in which context, very little has been ...
4
votes
4answers
309 views

Intervals and cantus firmus

I have just started learning music theory and I have learnt intervals and I have gotten up to learning the cantus firmus. I have two questions: On the piano keys, when I count interval steps, am I ...
4
votes
3answers
62 views

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-...