#1
yeah so as my music classes are a bit retarded, we don't really talk about this concept that seemed to be important to all those composers but not to our wonderful author. i have read a bit about it and understood all i read, even if i have not gotten it all memorized. what confuses me is how the rules work (let's say for first species) if you don't just use diatonic notes. i'm guessing this is somehow related to secondary dominants but i have not found reading on it. can somebody explain some aspects of this to me or suggest good sources of information.
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#2
Just finished my third species exercises

Umm well it's a bit late for me to be thinking clearly, but in my work we are following a certain composer and have to stick with diatonic notes. Our first species is ridiculously limited, although I guess there are reasons for that. I'm pretty sure I won't have anything remotely close to a good grasp on counterpoint until I take more advanced courses.

edit: Well, in my first species, we are only allowed 3rds, 5ths, 6ths, octaves, and I believe the occasional unison. Where are these non-diatonic notes coming from in your first species?
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Last edited by psychodelia at Sep 26, 2006,
#3
hmm, let's say second species actually. basically in my music classes we often took melodic dictation and if we had time to come up with a bassline against it or vice versa, our teacher would play it for us after school and briefly discuss it. some stuff i'd try and write was cool, but i cant find discussion on why it works from the side of counterpoint rules.
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#4
The various species are designed to introduce more contrapuntally complex stuff. TBH, any time you've got more than one voice going at a time (if you've done 4-part stuff, for instance) you have counterpoint; and the same rules apply in the sense of the melody vs. the bass, and how the two outer voices relate (esp if you've done figured bass, and the such).

It helps to grok what counterpoint really is, since it's subtly misunderstood most of the time. If you look at music as the set of two different relationships, it helps clear things up. Music has a vertical spacing, and a horizontal spacing. The relationship between the voices vertically comprises harmony. The relationship between the voices horizontally is counterpoint.

How it "works", esp. in first species, is that the vertical relationships, as the two voices move, implies some harmonic framework; even though the "inner" voices aren't realized. When you only have two voices working, especially bassier voices, the overtones are so thick as to imply the relative harmony.

In first species the strong dissonances are avoided completely, since there's no way to resolve them before the next harmony... second species lightens up a bit, and at the same time becomes more strict (in the sense that some dissonance is allowed, if it's treated properly). That continues until you get into free counterpoint, by which point you've got a good idea of how to handle the various dissonances, causes, and resoluteions.

The fourth, while not a modern dissonance, is disallowed in first species because Fux thought it implied a second inversion chord, and was thusly too unstable for use in 2 part writing. (To a large extent, this remains a rule because Bach also would have seen 4ths as implying the same chord -- interestingly enough, however, Bach used parallel 4ths in some of his strongest counterpoint).

Musically speaking, counterpoint doesn't "work" from the counterpoint rules. The rules are there to restrict what you can and can't do, so that various situations can be introduced more slowly. First species is really to get you use to seeing the consonances, hearing them, and learning to expect them, and hear implied harmonies out of them. When you add the dissonances, it makes a lot more sense to hear a dissonance where you expect a certain consonance, and make the connection between that dissonance and it's resolution. That's why we have counterpoint "rules".

As a guideline, there are four basic types of contrapuntal motion, contrary, oblique, similar, and parallel; ordered roughly in terms of the contrapuntal "strength." Counterpoint, generally speaking, works on the terms of attaining a harmony through motion. To attack that from a different angle, it helps to see harmony and melody from a slightly different perspective than you're use to. I like to say this a lot... you can see harmony as a melody stacked; by simple induction it should be obvious then that you can see melody as harmony over time. To that effect, if we remove all voices other than the melodic voice, the melody still implies a harmony.

Counterpoint, then, makes more sense if you see the lower voices as a realization of the harmonic structure implied by the melody. With the various types of motion used primarily as tools to acheive the next structural harmonic unit, and secondarily (but important) to give different levels of emphasis to the next harmonic unit. For instance... it may help to write this out... assume you've a melody that assumes the line G-E-F#, which implies I-IV-V or I-ii-V, to which you begin on the unison at the octave. If you approach the implied harmony with IV as the pre-dom, then the bassline logically moves G-C-D, with either oblique or contrary motion to E/C, and parallel thirds from there to D/F#. That's a fairly strong line; however, if you approach the harmony with ii as the PD, then you can move G-A-D with the emphasis now placed on the strong contrary motion to D/F# (implying a full V), leading tone in the melody.

Ultimately, what it means is that counterpoint works by realizing the structure of the melody (or, if you prefer, giving a structure for a melody to be built upon), and implying complete harmonies.

With more than two voices, this becomes apparent through standard voice-leading technques, and completed harmonies. In that way, a 3 or 4 part texture is easier to abstract and understand its development from the two part contrapuntal system -- the melody still implies some harmonic structure, the bass gives it a fundamental ground, and the inner voices fully realize the implied harmony. However, it's also more complex, since your 4 part rules stem directly from your contrapuntal "rules", in the sense that contrapuntal sanity has to be maintained between all combinations of the four voices (hence, no //5ths or //8ths, etc).
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#5
There perhaps isn't any online lessons or anything one can take where it will teach you this stuff up front and so even I can have a better understanding of it? Because I do understand it fairly well except I think there was abunch of important stuff skiped out due to the threadstarter already knowing it or something, that or Im just stupid as a bat
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#6
^ I've never seen anything online that's really good... there's an ok introduction to counterpoint on shenkerguide, but if you don't have some idea what's going on it's not too helpful.

The Fux book is only like $11.50 or so from amazon... that's pretty much /the/ book on counterpoint (with almost every important composer in the last 400+ years or so learning from it). I wouldn't recommend it if you're not familiar with classical harmonic treatment and concrete analysis (for which, almost any good theory text, and the Bach chorales would work well to build from).
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#7
i think i understand what you're saying, and i sorta had a feel for it before maybe...i always did try to fit some sort of complete harmony to the melody and drew the second line based on that. so yeah i think usually if i had chromaticism it was because in my head i harmonized the note with a secondary dominant, or had some neighbor tones or something.

do you think i grasped what you said at all?
"I see my light come shining from the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now I shall be released"

Know any good teachers in NY, especially skilled in teaching ear training? Tell me
#8
instead of starting a new thread, I searched and decided to revive this one.

doesn't anyone know of any good online reading material regarding species conterpoint?
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#9
^ I hope so. I'd really be thankful for something like that. Maybe I will just have to revive the ol' Ebay account.
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