Author Topic: December, 2018: Counterpoint and polyphony in your composition  (Read 266 times)

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Patrick O'Keefe

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Re: December, 2018: Counterpoint and polyphony in your composition
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2018, 06:45:28 PM »
My apologies if my terminology is off.

I've never studied formal counterpoint, and what I meant is not exercises by Fux but music that interweaves all the lines of a piece, not just the melody and counter melod(y)(ies), but the bass line as well, where the harmony is created by and moves according to those interactions. I do get that impression from much Baroque music.

Jerry, I should stress that, except for 9 or so years now with a private instructor, I've had no musical education at all and no instrumental performing experience.  Take everything I say with a grain of salt; I don't really know what I'm talking about.  In particular, I use a very broad definition of "counterpoint".

And now with that out of the way, I return to trying to convince you that you dowrite contrapuntal music.  :)

I think your concept of baroque counterpoint is probably accurate, but I think that's all there is to counterpoint.   The use of counterpoint does not eliminate the use of s homophonic structure. You could have two independent melodic lines, each with its own accompaniment (if you're really clever) playing in counterpoint to each other. 


I think of "vertical" harmony as laying down a series of chords and then playing a melody over them, such as in the sound of an oompah band, and in a lot of jazz, where the harmony doesn't create its own sense of melody, but just punctuates. It feels as if the harmony is a row of columns supporting a superstructure, very un-fugal.

Ah, but vary that ompah a bit so that it has its own personality - syncopate it or subdivide it and apply some "un-suare" accents - and suddenly you have rhythmic counterpoint - not a melodic line, but a rhythmic line moving independently of the melodic material.

I don't know if anybody else believes in rhythmic counterpoint, but I do.  :)

Oh, wait!  Of course there is rhythmic counterpoint.  Ernst Toch's Geographical Fugue.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZfSolxrLWo
(and many other online recordings)

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: December, 2018: Counterpoint and polyphony in your composition
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2018, 09:54:06 PM »
I'm fine with a broad definition of counterpoint. I love counterpoint!
 
My response was my impression of a distinction between types — between that which is relatively simple and that which is more complex.
 
I feel that it was only fair to the detail in the original question to avoid a generalization like, "Oh, we all use some sort of counterpoint a lot, if not most, of the time."
 
(Even if it's true ...)
 
Cheers,
Jer
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sandalwood

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Re: December, 2018: Counterpoint and polyphony in your composition
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2018, 07:20:35 PM »
Following precedent, I should start by saying I have no formal training in music. However, unlike the precedent, that constitutes only a small part of my "have not"s in music. So, regarding what I say below...Beware!

In the original question, by "good" counterpoint, I meant counterpoint that you think is good.

I believe Pat is right that there is no consensus on the definition and usage of many terms related to the topic. Outside the academic sense, I think the term contrapuntal has another and quite established  "colloquial" use, to loosely denote any of the notions of being rhythmically independent, counter-melodic or polyphonic.

I also agree with Pat that in the academic context, any two or more simultaneous musical  lines constitute a counterpoint (like any speech constituting prose), whether conforming or not to any set of formal counterpoint rules. To further complicate things, the counterpoint discipline, unintuitively, has rules even for a single melodic line.

As to Jer's remark on horizontal vs vertical: I believe it is the Renaissance music where the harmony is incidental to/byproduct of practicing the (modal) counterpoint rules of the period to provide smooth flow of (mostly) independent voices. This is in contradistinction, generally speaking, to the harmony-conscious, 'standard progression seeking' tonal counterpoint of the Baroque.

It seems, besides the advent of monody and homophony (hence the figured bass), polyphony remains alive and well in the Baroque but as distinct from the former period it is more meter-conscious, rhythmically driven and built on tonal (harmony) counterpoint, though modal polyphony does not totally wither away. 

Again, I agree with Pat that there is a grey area between monody/homophony and polyphony, across which a piece may move when, for instance, its ostinato/broken-chord like main accompaniment to the melody gradually starts acquiring a life of its own.

Of counter melody and Mahler 2: Yes, thanks a lot for bringing forth this beautiful passage (violins&celli) where both the melody and countermelody are quite tuneful, the sort that is dear to my heart :). I tend to think this one as the Type where the counter melody elaborates and complements the main melody. Another example would be, imo (from 22:30)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0AK_50-9rQ

yet another (from 15:42)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4788Tmz9Zo

There is, imo, another type where the two melodies don't even live in the same town, which I love even more (from 14:07)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIHFfuzKYPI

while there, another one which starts like the first type but then, enters the mezzo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8BBsf51bYU


All the above are to my best but, to repeat, quite limited understanding of the subject. I also hope I have managed to articulate my thoughts without offending or disappointing anyone for I aim none of such but don't always succeed. :)



« Last Edit: December 08, 2018, 10:22:58 PM by sandalwood »

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: December, 2018: Counterpoint and polyphony in your composition
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2018, 12:02:42 PM »
Reha,
 
After reading your thoughtful post, I was going to mention Bach cantatas, in which the accompaniment is as important as the main melody.
 
But first I clicked on your links, and by an amazing coincidence, I just happened earlier today to have watched that same video of Bach's 140 with Ton Koopman.  In fact, I spent the whole morning watching Koopman and Harnoncourt videos of Bach.
 
Thanks for this interesting thread. It definitely made me think.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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sandalwood

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Re: December, 2018: Counterpoint and polyphony in your composition
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2018, 06:43:04 PM »
Very nice coincidence indeed! Must've been a good pastime with the cantatas. He surely does have incredible facility and creativity with all sorts of textures. I time and again feel urged to think his oeuvre, unlike anyone else's, defies being explained away by any degree of human genius.

Gracias y saludos a Pátzcuaro! :)