Counterpoint Explained: Contrapuntal Motion

author: SilentDeftone date: 11/11/2004 category: guitar techniques
rating: 8.5 / votes: 31 
There are four types of contrapuntal motion: Parallel, Similar, Contrary, and Oblique. Parallel. Parallel motion is when 2 parts move the same interval in the same direction simultaneously. So when one part moves up 1 step, the other must also. This is based more on intervals than note names. It will almost ALWAYS go out of key. This can be done in any interval you want to. I used 6ths in this example.
Example:
   Original Line:
e|--------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-8-10-10/12-8-------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------7/9-7~--/7-7-5-4--5-4-------9-9-7\5-7----------|
D|-------------------------------------5~--------------7~-----7-|
A|----------------------------------------------------------7---|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------|
B|---------------------------|
G|---------------------------|
D|-9-9/10--9--7/9--7h8p7-----|
A|-----------------------10~-|
E|---------------------------|

   Harmonized using Parallel 6ths:
e|-12-14-14/16-12--------------------------------------------------|
B|-8--10-10/12-8---12/14-12~-/12-12-10-9--10-9------14-14-12\10-12-|
G|------------------7/9--7~--/7--7--5--4--5--4-9~----9-9---7\5--7--|
D|---------------------------------------------5~------------------|
A|-----------------------------------------------------------------|
E|-----------------------------------------------------------------|

e|--------------------------------------------|
B|--------------------------------------------|
G|-11~----11-13--13/14-13-11/13-11h12p11------|
D|-7~--11--7--9---9/10--9--7/9---7h-8p7---14~-|
A|------7---------------------------------10~-|
E|--------------------------------------------|
Similar. Similar motion is when 2 parts move in the same direction simultaneously while compensating for the key. This is quite a bit more complicated than parallel motion. In order to harmonize using similar motion, you must first determine the key of the original part. The example's key is the key of C. Now, figure out the scale degrees of each note for that particular key.
..Note: C D E F G A B C
Degree: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
Pick an interval you wish to harmonize in. Most common are 3rds and 6ths. I'll use 3rds as an example. Find the note of the interval above the key. For the example this would be E, since E is the 3rd of C. Now determine the mode that suits that note - in our case this would be E Phrygian. Line up both keys along with degrees as shown:
...C major: C D E F G A B C
...Degrees: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
E Phrygian: E F G A B C D E
Now you know that whenever a C occurs in the original part, you must harmonize it with an E. D harmonizes with F, E with G, etc. Note that the interval between D and F is a MINOR third, not a major one. This will bring out the characteristics of your harmonization and key. Notice that all the notes are in the key of C (except for the A# and harmonized C#, which is used as a passing tone in this case. )!
Example:
   Original Line:
e|--------------------------------------------------------------|
B|-8-10-10/12-8-------------------------------------------------|
G|---------------7/9-7~--/7-7-5-4--5-4-------9-9-7\5-7----------|
D|-------------------------------------5~--------------7~-----7-|
A|----------------------------------------------------------7---|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------|
B|---------------------------|
G|---------------------------|
D|-9-9/10--9--7/9--7h8p7-----|
A|-----------------------10~-|
E|---------------------------|


   Harmonized using Similar 3rds:
e|-7-8---8/10-7-------------------------------------------------|
B|-8-10-10/12-8--6/8-6~--/6-6-5-3--5-3-------8-8-6\5-6----------|
G|---------------7/9-7~--/7-7-5-4--5-4-4~----9-9-7\5-7-5------5-|
D|-------------------------------------5~--------------7~---5-7-|
A|----------------------------------------------------------7---|
E|--------------------------------------------------------------|

e|---------------------------|
B|---------------------------|
G|-7-7/9---7--5/7--5h6p5-----|
D|-9-9/10--9--7/9--7h8p7--9~-|
A|-----------------------10~-|
E|---------------------------|
Contrary. Contrary motion is when 2 parts move any distance in opposite directions.
Example:
e|--------------|
B|--------------|
G|--------------|
D|-3--5--7-9-10-|
A|-12-10-8-7-5--|
E|--------------|
Oblique. Oblique motion is when one part moves and one remains constant.
Example:
e|-------5-7-8-|
B|-5-6-8-------|
G|-------------|
D|-------------|
A|-3-3-3-3-3-3-|
E|-------------|
Well, that's it for now. If you have any questions feel free to post them or PM me.
More SilentDeftone lessons:
+ What Chords Are In What Key, And Why? Chords 11/11/2004
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