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26 votes

Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor breaks the "no parallel octaves" rule?

The counterpoint rules for parallel octaves (and fifths) apply in cases where two or more voices are meant to be heard as independent. Similarly for covered fifths and octaves. (Also for long strings ...
ttw's user avatar
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23 votes
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What is the purpose of the rules in counterpoint composition?

There are a few different reasons that might be given to follow counterpoint "rules." Stylistic emulation. While this tends to be less valued today by some, for the past few centuries, beginning ...
Athanasius's user avatar
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21 votes
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Is counterpoint still used today?

Counterpoint is simply the relationship between multiple musical lines. As such, any excerpt of music with more than one line is displaying some sense of counterpoint, whether intentional or not. ...
Richard's user avatar
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18 votes
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Would the melodic leap of the opening phrase of Mozart's K545 be considered dissonant?

There are at least two explanations for why this leap is acceptable: First is the idea of "gap fill," also sometimes called "registral return" or the "post-skip reversal." In short, when there is a ...
Richard's user avatar
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14 votes

Is counterpoint still used today?

One practical use in pop, country, big band, (and probably jazz, maybe rock) is the counterpoint between melody and bass. One would like the melody and bass to be independent voices. Many bass players ...
ttw's user avatar
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13 votes

What words should be used to describe "mathematically precise" music?

For over a century people have described music by Brahms in this way; the word they often use is academic. Typically this word means exactly what you intend: the use of advanced, clever counterpoint ...
Richard's user avatar
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12 votes

Additional reasons why perfect 5th is forbidden in contrapuntal writing (other than voice independence)

As brought up in comments, there are plenty of examples of music styles where parallel fifths are appropriate. Parallel chords and even naked parallel fifths are used to great effect in a number of ...
Athanasius's user avatar
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11 votes

What is the purpose of the rules in counterpoint composition?

When you say "counterpoint rules" I immediately think "Fux" and species counterpoint. Species counterpoint is a teaching method. One of the goals is for the student to demonstrate an understanding of ...
Michael Curtis's user avatar
11 votes

What is the purpose of the rules in counterpoint composition?

There are two basic paths leading to the goal of writing "music that works". And they are the same basic parts that lead to being able to cook food that other people can eat without complaining too ...
guest's user avatar
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10 votes

Is counterpoint still used today?

It is still used, but not the way Bach used it. Bach used to compose the different voices to be harmonically interdependent but rhythmically independent. After a certain point (later 19th-early 20th ...
Shevliaskovic's user avatar
9 votes

Can the leading note resolve down?

You're absolutely right! The typical rule is that the leading tone must resolve up to tonic when it is in an outer voice (that is, the soprano or bass). If the leading tone is in an inner voice, it ...
Richard's user avatar
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9 votes
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Where can I find related materials in connection with Johann Joseph Fux's The Study of Counterpoint?

Okay, there's a lot of confusing information out there about what materials exist related to Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum and their connection to significant composers. But let's start with Beethoven. ...
Athanasius's user avatar
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8 votes

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

If the G# had risen to A, the pause chord would have three As. It sounds better with all the notes of the triad, including E. It's not good for the leading note to fall, but here is a situation where ...
Rosie F's user avatar
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8 votes

Counterpoint with more than 4 parts

Counterpoint can be written for basically any number of independent parts greater than 1. (And even for a solo instrument, there's something called compound melody that can simulate counterpoint as ...
Athanasius's user avatar
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8 votes

Why does species counterpoint not consider harmonic function?

@Richard's answer is excellent, and I generally agree. I'd only add the the reason species counterpoint doesn't concern itself too much with teaching harmonic function is that this is simply not the ...
nuggethead's user avatar
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7 votes
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What does "potential dissonance" or "potential consonance" mean?

My understanding of the explanation in the text, given the example below it, is that from one position there is the potential for dissonance with respect to subsequent notes, i.e. in a "horizontal" ...
Tasos Papastylianou's user avatar
7 votes

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

As Tim says the leading tone has to lead to the root tone of the tonic (in major and minor) when in the discant (Soprano) or Bass. But in the final chord, it is often - in purpose to have a full 4 ...
Albrecht Hügli's user avatar
7 votes

Additional reasons why perfect 5th is forbidden in contrapuntal writing (other than voice independence)

Voice leading and voice independence are not specific to contrapuntal music. Homophonic music of the Classical genre continued to use the voice leading rules of the contrapuntal music that preceded ...
Basstickler's user avatar
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7 votes
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What is more important, avoiding parallel octaves between non-chord tones, or keeping a stretto exact?

Your passage is entirely musically valid. You have parallel octaves when you have two notes that are a perfect octave, in the same voice that repeats. This is also true for the unison. What you have ...
Neil Meyer's user avatar
7 votes

Is an arpeggio considered counterpoint or harmony?

In the scenario described, it would be harmony. In essence, it's just two chords that happen to be broken up rather than played as a single block. However, the broader question depends on context. ...
Aaron's user avatar
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7 votes

How do you define Harmonic Retrogression with regard to intensity?

Interesting. I think the problem lies in a pretty poor definition. As you've said, there are all kinds of ways to understand "intensity," so it's not hard to come up with examples that seem ...
Richard's user avatar
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7 votes

Why does species counterpoint not consider harmonic function?

It's really a question of philosophy. To some, learning these concepts in the ways that historical composers learned them is the optimal learning style. They fundamentally believe that because ...
Richard's user avatar
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6 votes
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Is this a hidden consecutive fifth?

There are no hidden consecutive fifths. Allow me to quote a little excerpt from Wikipedia: The reason for avoiding parallel 5ths and 8ves has to do with the nature of counterpoint. The P8 and P5 ...
Odo Frodo's user avatar
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6 votes

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

The problem in that particular part of Fux's The Study of Counterpoint is not that G doesn't belong to the mode at all, but that the student is putting the G below D in the first measure. The first ...
Pat Muchmore's user avatar
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6 votes
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Are consecutive 3rds allowed in harmony?

Yes consecutive 3rds are fine. Consecutive 5ths, and octaves are a big no-no when doing voice leading and counterpoint, however consecutive 3rds and 6ths are fine (at least in moderation). The reason ...
Dom's user avatar
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6 votes
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What is "leading note" and what does it mean to "raise a note"?

Basically these are synonymous terms: "leads to" and "resolves." A very important concept in tonal harmony is the strong sense of movement in the half steps of the diatonic scales. ...
Michael Curtis's user avatar

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