Questions tagged [counterpoint]

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

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32
votes
11answers
39k 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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5answers
5k 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?
20
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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)?
20
votes
2answers
12k 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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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
656 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 ...
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
844 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
2k 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
5answers
4k 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
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3answers
787 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 ...
9
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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 ...
9
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4answers
787 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
4k 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
983 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
426 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
468 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
1k 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
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2answers
734 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?
7
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3answers
822 views

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 ...
7
votes
4answers
837 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
1answer
217 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
215 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 ...
6
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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 ...
6
votes
9answers
2k views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
278 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
166 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
3answers
473 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
76 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. ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

How do “voice-leading”, “part-writing”, “polyphony” and “counterpoint” differ?

What are the differences in meaning and usage between “voice-leading”, “part-writing”, “polyphony” and “counterpoint”? According to Wikipedia: Voice-leading is “the term used to describe the linear ...
6
votes
1answer
98 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. ...
6
votes
1answer
161 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 ...
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
837 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
3k 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
571 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
621 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
671 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k 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
2answers
885 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
273 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
120 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
224 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
465 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
2answers
430 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 ...
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
1answer
302 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 ...