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Old 11-21-2012, 12:08 AM   #1
dannydawiz
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Modern Studies of Counterpoint

Hello guys does anyone have a referral on where to get started studying countpoint? I found quite a couple of books on Amazon but most of them seemed to be far outdated.

I'm aware that this can turn into a pretty big topic and because of that I want to make sure that I learn it the right way the first time.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:37 AM   #2
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The difference of counterpoint from the 17th century and now? Nothing. Its been being used for centries so a out dated book is gonna give you the same infomation. The same musical rules still apply. My advice go to college and study music if you want to learn it otherwise you will most likely confuse yourself.
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Old 11-21-2012, 12:42 AM   #3
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The other regulars will likely know more about the books, but I know of a video series that explains it fairly well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcqrGLvs95Ma

Counterpoint is pretty straight forward, the biggest thing that can trip you up is not having enough background knowledge to properly understand it.
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:03 AM   #4
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What do you want to get out of it? That's the most important question and any other advice is useless without the answer.
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:38 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudger
The difference of counterpoint from the 17th century and now? Nothing. Its been being used for centries so a out dated book is gonna give you the same infomation. The same musical rules still apply. My advice go to college and study music if you want to learn it otherwise you will most likely confuse yourself.


I didn't know that thanks for the insider! I can't go to college i'm only 15. Why wait when I can do it now? I'm not gonna wait 3 years to study something that I love.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockingamer2
The other regulars will likely know more about the books, but I know of a video series that explains it fairly well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcqrGLvs95Ma

Counterpoint is pretty straight forward, the biggest thing that can trip you up is not having enough background knowledge to properly understand it.


What kind of background knowledge is required?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz_rock_feel
What do you want to get out of it? That's the most important question and any other advice is useless without the answer.


I want to be able to use it as a composition tool.

Ever since I've discovered its existence I've been able to spot it out in songs created by my favorite composers.

I never knew what it was until now and now that I know what it is I'm really excited to learn how to use it!
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:42 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by dannydawiz
Ever since I've discovered its existence I've been able to spot it out in songs created by my favorite composers.


you're welcome

if you want to go old school, go for gradus ad parnassum by fux. if you want a more modern edition, i recommend counterpoint by walter piston.

either one should give you the necessary foundation you seek.

oh, and be able to read music, if you can't already do that. if you can read music and you understand intervals (which are REALLY important in counterpoint), you can, at bare minimum, make sense of a counterpoint text.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:06 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
you're welcome

if you want to go old school, go for gradus ad parnassum by fux. if you want a more modern edition, i recommend counterpoint by walter piston.

either one should give you the necessary foundation you seek.

oh, and be able to read music, if you can't already do that. if you can read music and you understand intervals (which are REALLY important in counterpoint), you can, at bare minimum, make sense of a counterpoint text.


Thanks a lot for the references!

As far as understanding intervals I know all the names and their dissonance/consonance. I learned a little bit about the history of the tritone from my music teacher in 8th grade which I wish I had actually been paying attention. I forgot which musical period but I remember him saying that it was never used and that people would associate the interval with the devil.

Reading music by far has to be my weakest zone as far as being able to sight read. However I am familiar with all of the symbols and their meanings. Whatever requirements that I need to understand this concept are going to be met by the time i'm done studying it so this is going to be interesting!



Looks like I just found a copy of the book!

Last edited by dannydawiz : 11-21-2012 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:24 AM   #8
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by the way, the series that rockingamer linked you to is pretty good. the author of that series wrote a fugue based on the themes of lady gaga's bad romance, and i thought it was actually rather skillfully executed counterpoint (and in a modern way, nonetheless).
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:27 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
by the way, the series that rockingamer linked you to is pretty good. the author of that series wrote a fugue based on the themes of lady gaga's bad romance, and i thought it was actually rather skillfully executed counterpoint (and in a modern way, nonetheless).


I'm sure that I'll be coming back to that video later on in the future. I usually learn best when given an example so I plan on using that to my advantage. Once again thanks for the guidance!
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:59 PM   #10
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Make sure you have at least a basic understanding of 4 part harmony/music theory as well as some basic ear training skills before you start counterpoint otherwise you are going to get confused very quickly.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:53 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by British_Steal
Make sure you have at least a basic understanding of 4 part harmony


not necessarily. it's advisable to start with 2 part counterpoint. rightly so - it's by far the most difficult to pull off. in 4 part, you have more to worry about, but you also have a lot more to work with, so the difficulty level is really much lower for higher numbers of voices.
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Old 11-22-2012, 02:55 AM   #12
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Just remember; parallel perfects are bad.
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Old 11-22-2012, 03:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
not necessarily. it's advisable to start with 2 part counterpoint. rightly so - it's by far the most difficult to pull off. in 4 part, you have more to worry about, but you also have a lot more to work with, so the difficulty level is really much lower for higher numbers of voices.


then wouldn't it make sense to start with the lower difficulty level?

I suppose it ultimately wouldn't matter as long as you had an understanding of basic harmony/music theory but for me personally, 4 part writing helped to get the basics down.
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Old 11-23-2012, 01:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by British_Steal
then wouldn't it make sense to start with the lower difficulty level?

I suppose it ultimately wouldn't matter as long as you had an understanding of basic harmony/music theory but for me personally, 4 part writing helped to get the basics down.


if you want to argue with fux, and think that first species counterpoint should first be done with 4-part harmony, go right ahead.

but personally, i think that's ridiculous.

2-part harmony is the most difficult because the rules are stricter. in 3 or more parts, hidden perfect intervals are acceptable provided the other part(s) move in the opposite direction, but they're completely forbidden in 2-part writing.

by that logic, starting with 2-part harmony makes you more aware of the possibility of hidden perfect intervals.
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Old 11-24-2012, 04:41 PM   #15
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I'd seriously recommend getting a handle on the basic harmony of the common practice period (and specifically the classical period) and basic pop/jazz harmonies before going down the counterpoint rabbit hole (especially if your going to use the fux book/work with species counterpoint, which teaches an incredibly antiquated style, not to say that it's without value). Honestly, I think if you analyze classical pieces and jazz transcriptions (specifically transcriptions of arrangements) you'll get a better and more immediately useful sense of how multiple lines interact, then if you attempt to learn an unfamiliar style by internalizing and regurgitating a bunch of rules.
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Old 11-24-2012, 05:02 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
if you want to argue with fux, and think that first species counterpoint should first be done with 4-part harmony, go right ahead.

but personally, i think that's ridiculous.

2-part harmony is the most difficult because the rules are stricter. in 3 or more parts, hidden perfect intervals are acceptable provided the other part(s) move in the opposite direction, but they're completely forbidden in 2-part writing.

by that logic, starting with 2-part harmony makes you more aware of the possibility of hidden perfect intervals.


I just meant maybe some exposure to spelling basic chords, reading in bass and treble clef and just getting a sense of some common harmonies and stuff would maybe be a good idea before starting counterpoint that is all
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Old 11-24-2012, 06:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by British_Steal
I just meant maybe some exposure to spelling basic chords, reading in bass and treble clef and just getting a sense of some common harmonies and stuff would maybe be a good idea before starting counterpoint that is all


there's a big difference between knowing how to spell basic chords and composing for 4 voices.

of course, the more experience the better, but learning to write 4 part harmonies in order to study counterpoint is kind of like learning to jog in order to learn to walk.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:27 PM   #18
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^not really, I learnt 4 part harmony first and it never hurt me.
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:54 PM   #19
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^not really, I learnt 4 part harmony first and it never hurt me.


specifically as a prerequisite to learning species counterpoint?
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Old 11-24-2012, 08:57 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
specifically as a prerequisite to learning species counterpoint?


Well I knew 4 part harmony before coming to uni, but 4 part was taught before species counterpoint in the first semester.
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