Author Topic: Counterpoint in Composition  (Read 8892 times)

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winknotes

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #45 on: January 11, 2013, 08:19:12 AM »
So one thing right away that strikes me as I'm working through these is the fact that my harmonies are somewhat ambiguous in a way.  What I mean is that since there are only 2 voices some intervals could be root/3rd or 3rd/5th, etc.  Same with 6ths. 

So the principle here is divorcing vertical thinking from horizontal thinking.  Maybe once you get to 3 and 4 part writing a harmonic framework comes a little more the for foreground. 
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #46 on: January 11, 2013, 08:32:47 AM »
So one thing right away that strikes me as I'm working through these is the fact that my harmonies are somewhat ambiguous in a way.  What I mean is that since there are only 2 voices some intervals could be root/3rd or 3rd/5th, etc.  Same with 6ths.

Good observation, and worthy of some deep pondering. There is no reason why that ambiguity needs to be resolved. If the counterpoint works, then all is well. As an added bonus, the ambiguity means that you can change the meaning of those two voices by adding a third voice in at least two different ways. That would be a very welcome feature for any material you might want to develop throughout the course of a larger work.

It is less obvious in two-part writing, but by the time you have added a third voice, traditional harmony -- triads, progression, cadence, et al. -- emerge spontaneously from correct contrapuntal technique. It seems like magic until you realize that the traditions of harmony are built upon the traditions of counterpoint and not the other way around.

winknotes

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #47 on: January 11, 2013, 08:37:54 AM »

It is less obvious in two-part writing, but by the time you have added a third voice, traditional harmony -- triads, progression, cadence, et al. -- emerge spontaneously from correct contrapuntal technique. It seems like magic until you realize that the traditions of harmony are built upon the traditions of counterpoint and not the other way around.

Interesting you say this because through working on these and reading everything I can on the subject I realized when we learned part-writing in high school and college freshman theory it really comes out of these rules of counterpoint albeit a little less strict. 

I think studying part writing though apart from counterpoint leads to the problem I have which is focusing too much on vertical entities rather than horizontal.  And let's face it, learning part writing from a hymnal probably isn't THE best example of independent melodies one could cite. 
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #48 on: January 11, 2013, 09:05:24 AM »
I see "part-writing" as variation of 4-part species 1 counterpoint. Though it teaches one aspect of counterpoint, it promotes the importance of chord progression and vertical thinking at the expense of full contrapuntal understanding.

Still pretty useful for writing a hymn or a string bed for a pop tune.

winknotes

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #49 on: January 11, 2013, 11:35:36 AM »
One more question about what's acceptable.  Is it ok for a voice to move in thirds?  I find myself doing this on some of these to maintain as much contrary motion as possible. 
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Michel.R.E

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #50 on: January 11, 2013, 11:46:24 AM »
it's ok, but it's probably not ideal to have a voice sound as though it is doing nothing but arpeggios.

your last example looked excellent.

5ths as such are not the issue (likewise octaves).

the problem is with two different treatments of those intervals:

parallel 5ths and 8ves are entirely verboten.

and direct 5ths and 8ves are also forbidden.

an interval is "direct" when it is approached by leap in the upper voice, and when both voices are moving in the same direction.

it is particularly bad if BOTH voices move by leap to the interval.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 11:52:36 AM by Michel.R.E »
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #51 on: January 11, 2013, 12:00:18 PM »
One more question about what's acceptable.  Is it ok for a voice to move in thirds?  I find myself doing this on some of these to maintain as much contrary motion as possible. 

I invite correction, but I believe two successive thirds is fine. Beyond that, no.

I think it may actually be more of a problem to focus on making as much contrary motion as possible. The goal should be voice independence which incidentally is served well by contrary motion. Contrary motion should be viewed as a good thing, but only up to the point where it begins to cramp your style. You need some variety in your motion, and an exercise using only contrary motion would probably not sound very interesting.

Michel.R.E

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #52 on: January 11, 2013, 12:12:58 PM »
it depends what he means by "a voice move in thirds"... does he mean that the two voices are a third apart? or that one voice ends up singing notes a third apart? (ie: C - E - G - B - G - B - D etc...)
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Michel.R.E

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #53 on: January 11, 2013, 12:14:04 PM »
for parallel 3rds, we were permitted an absolute maximum of three in a row, but then no more thirds after that. and we had to supply an alternate realization with absolutely no parallel intervals.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

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winknotes

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Re: Counterpoint in Composition
« Reply #54 on: January 11, 2013, 01:25:02 PM »
it depends what he means by "a voice move in thirds"... does he mean that the two voices are a third apart? or that one voice ends up singing notes a third apart? (ie: C - E - G - B - G - B - D etc...)

The latter.  So for example the soprano singing E - C - A.  I see that in some of the C.F. so I assume the rules are enforced in that voice as well. 

Steve Winkler
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