#1
I'm writing some sonata-style movements for acoustic guitar and I was wondering if anybody had any tips for using counterpoint fluidly but without bogging down the score and texture. I want my pieces to sound complex but I'm not writing this for the supreme purpose of displaying my abilities as a composer. I know it's a vague question, but are their any pointers that somebody can give me?
#2
How does one play contrapuntally on a guitar?
"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, your eyes will get sore after a while."
#3
^ that's what i was thinking, maybe he meant a few guitars?
i'm still to study counterpoint, so i'm just filling in the database here.
#4
What exactly do you mean by sonata style?


Anyway, it's fairly simple really; stay simple. Omit unnecessary notes. When you revise your piece you should always be looking for what you can take out, what can be made clearer and purer.

Counterpoint, though ... write it well? What kind of answer are you looking for?
#5
This will answer both badfish's question and JamesDouglas' question....

Take some time and learn some classical guitar. Look at Bach, Dowland, and Sor for some really great examples of counterpoint and how to approach it with guitar.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#6
Quote by axemanchris
This will answer both badfish's question and JamesDouglas' question....

Take some time and learn some classical guitar. Look at Bach, Dowland, and Sor for some really great examples of counterpoint and how to approach it with guitar.

CT


To those add the vihuelists , Luys de Navarez, Milan, Alonso Mudarra etc. and use Bach's two part inventions. Milan's El Maestro is actually a method and very very very interesting if you want to poke your nose into renaissance modal writing.

Just two voices can sound amazingly effective. Add an occassional third for weight or cadencial emphasis.

I'd look at the Bach for good counterpoint and to the vihuelists and Dowland for effective implimentation of textures with regard to the instrument. Sor generally writes in a more homogenous style.
#7
Quote by R.Christie
To those add the vihuelists , Luys de Navarez, Milan, Alonso Mudarra etc. and use Bach's two part inventions. Milan's El Maestro is actually a method and very very very interesting if you want to poke your nose into renaissance modal writing.

Just two voices can sound amazingly effective. Add an occassional third for weight or cadencial emphasis.

I'd look at the Bach for good counterpoint and to the vihuelists and Dowland for effective implimentation of textures with regard to the instrument. Sor generally writes in a more homogenous style.
Dont actually like dowland, I like carruli (sp?) more.

Is the "third voice" actually a voice? Normally I've seen it just as something to beef up one of the other real voices. From my (extreme) lack of experience (as in, with everything I say, take it with a grain of salt), those voices are usually parrallel octaves or fifths harmonies, which wouldnt really be another independent voice.
#8
Quote by R.Christie
Sor generally writes in a more homogenous style.


Yeah, you'd have to do a bit of digging, as this point is correct. He does have some rather contrapuntal work also though.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
Quote by axemanchris
This will answer both badfish's question and JamesDouglas' question....

Take some time and learn some classical guitar. Look at Bach, Dowland, and Sor for some really great examples of counterpoint and how to approach it with guitar.

CT


I do play classical guitar. I've so far not encountered a piece that I would call contrupuntal, having two melody lines playing concurrently - you would need 4 hands.

But please link me to a score/tab for guitar that you consider contrupuntal, I'm curious to see.
"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, your eyes will get sore after a while."
#10
having two melody lines playing concurrently - you would need 4 hands.


Only if playing a triad requires six.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#11
Quote by Archeo Avis
Only if playing a triad requires six.


A chord is not contrapuntal, it's a chord.
"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, your eyes will get sore after a while."
#12
Quote by JamesDouglas
I do play classical guitar. I've so far not encountered a piece that I would call contrupuntal, having two melody lines playing concurrently - you would need 4 hands.

But please link me to a score/tab for guitar that you consider contrupuntal, I'm curious to see.

I'm going to name one, of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of others.

Song of the Emperor by Luys de Navarez

This is set in a fairly typical texture for vihuela and I refer to it because it is an exact transcription of a four part vocal work Mille Regretz by Josquin De Prez, one of the giants of renaissance contrapuntal writing.

If you want to hear it performed by voice :
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=eYbqKj7nSJQ&feature=related

Lute:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=NdKzIgojX7k&feature=related
#13
Sorry, I have no clue about counterpoint, or contrapuntual motion, but, counterpoint involves a cantus firmus (to my VERY limited knowledge, thats the original melody which you compose a counterpoint too). So counterpoint is the act of combining two lines of melodic (and rhythmic?) individuality. So, why could you not play counterpoint on a classical guitar?

Melody w/ the fingers, bass w/ the thumb, and or even two melodic lines w/ the fingers.

(you would have to be quite well versed in technique to play them at different rhythms though)
#14
Yep. S'right.

Just gone to go youtube some examples. brb

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#15
Sor - Estudio #15 - not too bad to play http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utRmJn0Co0k

John Dowland - Allemande (Drop-D Renaissance style!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iiVw9KSlb4

A nice little Bach Fugue for you, courtesy of Mr. J. Bream - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spUT-2tU2Yk

Bach's Rondeau from Gavotte and Rondeau, played by Segovia - (starts around 2:24) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8EDpJ-aIM8

And just for kicks... what may be the epitome of classical guitar playing... Segovia playing Sor's Theme and Variations on Mozart's Magic Flute (a mother of a piece to play, but still enjoyable at the same time)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eBnfzngq9Y

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#16
Quote by JamesDouglas
A chord is not contrapuntal, it's a chord.


You miss the point entirely (not to mention that three and four part writing is generally done with the voices outlining a chord). The guitar is perfectly capable of playing more than one note at a time. It doesn't magically become impossible when dealing with counterpoint.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#17
Quote by axemanchris
Sor - Estudio #15 - not too bad to play http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utRmJn0Co0k

John Dowland - Allemande (Drop-D Renaissance style!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iiVw9KSlb4

A nice little Bach Fugue for you, courtesy of Mr. J. Bream - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spUT-2tU2Yk

Bach's Rondeau from Gavotte and Rondeau, played by Segovia - (starts around 2:24) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8EDpJ-aIM8

And just for kicks... what may be the epitome of classical guitar playing... Segovia playing Sor's Theme and Variations on Mozart's Magic Flute (a mother of a piece to play, but still enjoyable at the same time)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eBnfzngq9Y

CT
That's insane! Incredible players. But is it just me or does Bream seem to have shithouse posture? (not that he doesn't play spectacularly well)

I wish I could play guitar.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#18
That's funny.... I never really noticed that. It's one of those things like, "It's Julian Bream... what's there to question?" Now that you mention it, though, he is a bit slouchy and seems to be a little 'off to one side.'

The first couple were good enough amateurs, but Segovia, John Williams, Julian Bream..... those are like the untouchables. Especially the first two. They're like 'from another planet' level of good.

Yeah, after watching some of those guys, even with a degree in classical guitar, I find myself thinking "I wish I could play guitar" too.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#19
Thanks for the examples everyone

Quote by Archeo Avis
You miss the point entirely (not to mention that three and four part writing is generally done with the voices outlining a chord). The guitar is perfectly capable of playing more than one note at a time. It doesn't magically become impossible when dealing with counterpoint.


A guitar can play this:

|-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-|
|--8-6-5-------5-6-------------5--|
|--------7-6-7---------6-7-6-7----|
|------------------7-9------------|
|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|


And this:

|---10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10-|
|-----13--11--10--------------10--11--------------------------10---|
|-10--------------12--11--12--------------9---11--12--11--12-------|
|-------------------------------------12---------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------|


But not at the same time.
"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, your eyes will get sore after a while."
#20
Quote by JamesDouglas
Thanks for the examples everyone


A guitar can play this:

|-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-5-|
|--8-6-5-------5-6-------------5--|
|--------7-6-7---------6-7-6-7----|
|------------------7-9------------|
|---------------------------------|
|---------------------------------|


And this:

|---10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10--10-|
|-----13--11--10--------------10--11--------------------------10---|
|-10--------------12--11--12--------------9---11--12--11--12-------|
|-------------------------------------12---------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------------------------|


But not at the same time.


It most certainly can. Even if it couldn't, so what? Those passages have nothing to do with counterpoint. Even if they did; again, so what? A guitar can't play a fully voiced 13 chord. Clearly chords are impossible on the instrument
What you seem to be arguing is: A guitar can play several notes at once, but the second those notes become contrapuntal, God himself prevents them from being played.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
Last edited by Archeo Avis at Nov 7, 2008,
#21
Quote by Archeo Avis
It most certainly can. Even if it couldn't, so what? Those passages have nothing to do with counterpoint. Even if they did; again, so what? A guitar can't play a fully voiced 13 chord. Clearly chords are impossible on the instrument
What you seem to be arguing is: A guitar can play several notes at once, but the second those notes become contrapuntal, God himself prevents them from being played.
I can play 13th chords. I just omit the fifth. Actually alot easier than most other chords.

I hate to state the obvious but the only instruments that dont really play contrapuntualy are monophonice instruments (saxophones, trumpets, flutes and so on).

Occasionally you might actually see a monophonic instrument play contrapuntually. There might not be two notes playing simulataneously but there could still be two melodies playing, like if the second example that JamesDouglas posted had a melody instead of repeated D's, than that would be technically counterpoint, as two melodies are being played at once. It might not be traditional counterpoint...
#22
I can play 13th chords.


So can I, but that's not what I said. A guitar cannot play fully voiced 13 chords.

It might not be traditional counterpoint...


It's actually not at all uncommon to offset the melodies being played. Even if you aren't, it's entirely possible to play contrapuntal line with two, three, or four (or more) voices on the guitar.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#24
To me counterpoint is strict polyphony. Entirely different melody lines being played over each other (obviously still working harmonically), I just don't see that being done on a guitar.
"Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, your eyes will get sore after a while."
#25
If you have the dexterity and strength, nothing is stopping you from tapping out the two melodies. Showy, yes, but if it allows you to play a normally impossible piece for the guitar, I don't see why it won't work.
#26
Quote by JamesDouglas
To me counterpoint is strict polyphony. Entirely different melody lines being played over each other (obviously still working harmonically), I just don't see that being done on a guitar.


super mario theme?
#27
Quote by JamesDouglas
To me counterpoint is strict polyphony. Entirely different melody lines being played over each other (obviously still working harmonically), I just don't see that being done on a guitar.


Why not?
Anyway, a large portion of the classical (used in the colloquial sense) guitar repertoire disagrees with you, and I can and have written contrapuntal part for the instrument. It's not difficult at all.

Again, what you seem to be arguing is that it's possible to play six note chords, but the second one decides to play something like this...



...it magically becomes impossible to play more than one note at a time.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
Last edited by Archeo Avis at Nov 7, 2008,
#28
@archeo - great, very simple example.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#29
Quote by JamesDouglas
To me counterpoint is strict polyphony. Entirely different melody lines being played over each other (obviously still working harmonically), I just don't see that being done on a guitar
It occurs in probably the most basic of guitar music - strummed open chords.

Look at everyone's favourite progression C Am F G C.

e string - E E F G E
B string - C C C B C
G string - G A A G G
D string - E E F D E
A string - C A C B C
Bass notes - C A F G C

Each string has a different melody, working harmonically to create the chords.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#30
Quote by JamesDouglas
To me counterpoint is strict polyphony. Entirely different melody lines being played over each other (obviously still working harmonically), I just don't see that being done on a guitar.

Don't be silly.
Ever heard of fugue? It's one of the forms that epitomises counterpoint. You were given an example earlier in the thread.
#31
Quote by Ænimus Prime
It occurs in probably the most basic of guitar music - strummed open chords.

Look at everyone's favourite progression C Am F G C.

e string - E E F G E
B string - C C C B C
G string - G A A G G
D string - E E F D E
A string - C A C B C
Bass notes - C A F G C

Each string has a different melody, working harmonically to create the chords.


Counterpoint really refers to a texture. Chordal textures are described as homophonic. (no, not homophobic... haha)

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#32
Quote by axemanchris
Counterpoint really refers to a texture. Chordal textures are described as homophonic. (no, not homophobic... haha)

CT


Practitioners of four-part writing will surprised to hear this. It is very common (in fact, the norm) for contrapuntal melodies to outline chords.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#33
Quote by JamesDouglas
To me counterpoint is strict polyphony. Entirely different melody lines being played over each other (obviously still working harmonically), I just don't see that being done on a guitar.
Counterpoint is the art of combining two melodies of equal melodic individuality.

I dont really like strict counterpoint (fux style). It probably worked well in the 1500's, but music is different today. Some melodic lines dont need to be perfectly individualised and can break melodic rules guys like bach used to follow.
#34
Quote by Archeo Avis
Practitioners of four-part writing will surprised to hear this. It is very common (in fact, the norm) for contrapuntal melodies to outline chords.


Four part harmony type things are homophonic. There are a lot of the same or similar rules as in counterpoint, but homophonic is just a word to generically describe something chordal in texture. It doesn't have to be exclusive or separate from four part harmony.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#35
Quote by Archeo Avis
Practitioners of four-part writing will surprised to hear this. It is very common (in fact, the norm) for contrapuntal melodies to outline chords.

That's my favorite part about it, counterpoint is just so awesome!