1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)


Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by thekingbassist, Nov 16, 2003.

  1. if any one could post some of the basic rules of counterpoint it would help my study of fuxes book greatly. like what exactly perfect consonance is verses imperfect and the types of movements allowed. just anything on counterpoint would help.
  2. The main thing about counterpoint is you want both lines to be smooth. So use as much stepwise motion as possible.

    Perfect consonances (which there should not be too many of) are intervals like unisons, fifths, and octaves (fours are not allowed, at least in first species two voice counterpoint)

    Imperfect consonances (which are what you should aim for most of the time) are intervals like thirds, sixths, and tenths.

    With perfect consonances you have to be very careful both voices cannot approach them with similar motion(moving in the same direction but not with the same intervals) or with parallel (moving in the same direction and with the same intervals). You can approach them with contrary or oblique (one voice moves and the other does not)

    The only limitation on Imperfect consonaces is that you cannot have three of the same in a row. Four thirds in a row is wrong but three thirds and a sixth are okay.
  3. thanks

    its amazing how i can read that and one half of my mind is saying yes, yes, this follows what notes i have taken. and how the other side can say what the hell is this jibba jabba.

    thanks now i am quite certain of everything pertaining to do with counterpoint that i have been studying thus far. ahh beautiful affirmation...

  4. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    start with the first specie which is hlaf note against half note (one in the bass one in the treble.)

    pick a key. the first set of intervals should be an octave. This is just about the only place in counterpoint excersize where the octave is acceptable.

    Fifths are generally unacceptable since they do not provide any chord characteristic.

    by the way of clarification on consonance and dissonnance:

    2nd's, 4th's, and 7th's are dissonant
    3rd's, 6ths, and p5's are consonant

    Unfortunately there are no truly good books that teach counterpoint. I think you must find a teacher to transmit the information to you.

    Get a lot of pencils because you will be doing a ton of erasing.

    Remember this: COPS.

    These are the four types of motion allowed under counterpoint conventions.

    Contrary-lines are moving in different directions and at different intervals

    Oblique- one line stays in position while the other line moves up or down.

    Parallel-both lines are moving in the same directions and using the same intervals.

    Similar- both lines are moving generally in the same direction though intervals can be different.

    Email me if you'd like more info...
  5. thanks

    i shouldnt need to email you though

    the books really make sense to me after a 2nd or third read over confusing parts.

    now i get the idea and the diferent types of counterpoint movements consances etc... but it has unforetuneately made it maddening for me to right 3 bars of music with out them taking 3 hours, of course they are sounding amazing, but they did before, so anyways i have gotten much use out of counterpoint, good jam concepts in there somehow.

  6. Got any book recommendations for learning counterpoint? Especially for someone who can't define what counterpoint is?
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    In my experience, it's never a good idea to study any aspect of music theory without also immersing yourself in the music which resulted in the theory book being written (Composers don't read theory books - their music creates the explanation of it after the fact). If you are studying 16th century counterpoint, listen to as much Palestrina as you can get your ears on. There are others, but he is about as "textbook" as "textbook gets. For 18th century counterpoint, eat, sleep, listen to, and breathe Bach's WTC (both volumes). Once the sound is in your ear, the "rules" become almost superfluous as they are only a reflection of the sound...why focus on the reflection instead of the object itself?
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Fuxes - !! :confused:

    Is this a 'euphemism' like the Fugs or maybe a new term for urban foxes? ;)
  9. Kurisu


    Nov 19, 2003
    Saskatoon SK

    Which of the numerous WTC recordings would you recommend? I'm looking at the Hewitt or the Bernard Roberts... But I'm so lost as to which would best highlight the bass clef.

    And secondly, there's got to be a book or two that would help explain what's going on in these pieces. Without some sort of guide it will be difficult to learn anything about counterpoint by just listening over and over, don't you think?

    Anything that would help compose basslines to counterpoint vocal melody would be fantastic. With this goal in mind is it even a worth delving deeply into the WTC?

  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Delving deeply into WTC is an adventure that enlightens all those who dare enter !

    Pits MisBarral is right about listening to as much period music as possible.

    He is also correct concerning composers; we glean coventions from their opera. That doesn't mean however that Theorists we not publishing well before Bach or earlier composers times. Some of my favorite early theoretical works of those by Zarlino and of course Gallilei, from the Venetian Camerata. And of course we cannot forget Pope Gregory and his little dove and Pythagoras.
  11. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    In my experience, it is without a doubt worth it. The study of counterpoint is really nothing more than the study of space in music, both rhythmically and in the melodic/harmonic sense. Studying great counterpoint can't help but make you aware of that space, and it's the same kind of space that exists between the bass and lead line in jazz. Playing chordless duo is another wonderful way to explore this space.
  12. Don't forget J S Bach's "Die Kunst Der Fuge" (BWV 1080). Here's a teaser.

    - Wil
  13. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    :confused: I keep reading this thread over and over and each time it's just way over my head.

    What exactly is counterpoint? I hear the term a lot. I always thought it was two melodies played at the same time. Am I correct? But how can one person play two melodies?

    Please forgive the silly question. :(
  14. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    Counterpoint is at least two voices but often 4 or more. The conventions of counterpoint were taken from the music of JS Bach. Although conventions regarding proper voicing existed prior to those conventions extracted from Bach we use Bach as an example when we teach counterpoint.

    Remember that the keyboard and vocal music was the order of the day (not completely but you get the point) during the Renaissance and Baroque era's. The conventions of counterpoint were taken from this music.

    BUT, If you analyze the cello suites of Bach you will find implied counterpoint even though you are reading a single line of music. Actually, the best way to learn the suites, IMO, is to do a harmonic anaylisis a la Schenker and then look at the pieces and decide the best way to procede.
  15. stephanie


    Nov 14, 2000
    Scranton, PA
    Ah! This I understand. Thank you. :)
  16. ah counterpoint... didn't think I'd find this topic in bass forum. :))
  17. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    By your study of Fuxe's book, you mean The Study of Counterpoint by Johann Joseph Fux? If so, that's an awesome book. Are you reading the Alfred Mann paperback translation? If so, check out page 22. It outlines the four basic rules:

    1. From on perfect consonance to another perfect consonance one must proceed in contrary or oblique motion.

    2. From a perfect consonance to an imperfect consonance one may proceed in any of the three motions.

    3. From an imperfect consonance to a perfect consonance one must proceed in contrary or oblique motion.

    4. From one imperfect consonance to another imperfect consonance one may proceed in any of the three motions.

    The only progression which is forbidden is the direct motion into a perfect consonance.

    The ending of the book is very sad :bawl: