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#1047123 - 05/23/08 08:53 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Keystring,

There is quite a picture painted through what has been said by the participants. I can't imagine anyone who is not an accomplished musician with all the stratas to having reached this level tucked carefully in their brains and hands could decipher from just reading about it.

It is complexity to the highest complexity - it is precision in playing flently. I would also think that most who would approach this level would be able to sightread through it, but the precision and voicing would be the absolutely most challenging and difficult task to conquer.

I don't know anyone myself, who reads through music literature or listens to recordings while identifying what is going on in the music who can't also do the requirements on the instrument.

The disadvantage I talk about is that it is a very, very big leap and perhaps an erroneous one to hang so much learning from a written theory document ABOUT such things WITHOUT the personal application of what the printed page is describing being duplicated on the piano.

I would caution anyone the same. Learning must be accurate we must avoid error and misconceptions. I feel secure in saying this because I think music is "brought out" of us both in the instruments performance with us at the "controls" and also in the study of theory and techniques which brought us to our present place in music.

It is not stuffed into us" through theory study for regurgitation. It is for the understanding and application of what we NEED to know as capable musicians.

I don't think it makes sense to take it into consideration if you don't need it and aren't ready for it. And, I think the test of knowing it is to be able to put it into action on the piano.

Only you can state your purposes and approach and I know you say over and over that you are an adult student and piano is your second instrument.

A pianist needs excellant, well developed skills and stamina for this, they would be classified as a musician, not an an adult student or any kind of a student, except those in college, and most likely as a piano performance student. This takes years and years of development until you are ready for it.

I just wonder why it is so important to you at this time when so many other things come first? I don't understand this path and I could not recommend it for any student unless it made the most of sense which to me is, because it's as being ready the next step in your music education.

This simply represents my opinion on the who, what, where, when, and why of selecting the next step.

To me a brick wall needs to be placed with measurements and precision and a craftsman does the work, as do tall building. Architecture is an art, as is music. Structure is important to building brick walls, tall buildings, and musicians.

Betty

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#1047124 - 05/23/08 08:56 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
Double post.

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#1047125 - 05/23/08 08:57 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Frank:

Well, granted a 2nd melody line paralleling the main melody at a constant interval of, say, a 3rd below is certainly not a very complex or sophisticated or advanced or classic or even "true" countermelody in the time-honored textbook sense as defined and mandated by Fux (and other authorities), And beyond that in actual practice it is far too simple or easy or basic or trite or boring or tedious or monotonous.

But fundamentally it is a countermelody. And it's use in this regard does constitute counterpoint, of sorts. While in this context it serves probably more of a harmonic function than a counterpoint function, nevertheless - as simple and basic and tedious as it is - it is a separate and unique and independent melody line, whether it is played in the LH or as two-part writing for the RH, and this is correct even if it duplicated the rhythm of the main melody exactly. Obviously, it can be played by itself and will more than likely sound fairly good (assuming the main melody sonds good) - in fact it may sound alot like the main melody played in a different key.[/b]
No, it is not. It merely augements the original line. It is not independent or unique. You have homework to do John.

 Quote:
Originally posted by John Frank:

I'm not sure about it increasing the "magnitude" of the main melody (if by magnitude you mean strength or volume) but this 2nd melody certainly can be heard as a separate, independent melody line even with perfect synchronization of the rhythmic content of each melody line. As I said, it's not sophisticated but it is counterpoint simply by the mere fact of two separate, independent melodies being played simultaneously, no matter how crude and basic.[/b]
No, that is incorrect. What I mean by "magnitude...etc," is that a parallel line will simply augment the original melody.

 Quote:
Originally posted by John Frank:

Which begs the question: How much variation must there be rhythmically, afterall, before melodies are considered "true" counterpoint? What does Mr. Fux mandate here?

Regards, JF [/b]
There must be enough variation for it to be a separate, independent line.

John, if you had actually studied counterpoint, you would not be taking this position. Again, do your homework.

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#1047126 - 05/23/08 10:23 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11661
Loc: Canada
Betty,
You have written a long post advising how musical studies should proceed. In that post you also advise against doing certain things. It is quite good advice, and I am sure well appreciated.

Unfortunately you have addressed it to me personally. You advise me against what and how I am studying now, describing these studies as though you knew what they were and how I am proceeding. Thank you for your concern.

Please be assured that I am under the guidance of an excellent teacher who knows my musical strengths and weaknesses very well, and my studies are governed by his instructions and advice. I only study what he sanctions and I am under his tutelage. They are not as you seem to be describing them. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding.

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#1047127 - 05/23/08 10:29 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Semper Bösendorfer Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 98
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Worth a poignant read in book or other media is how Anton Bruckner of all people felt his knowledge was so inadequate in counterpoint - when it was plainly not!

(O.T. - IMHO its also time well spent listening to Bruckner's modest output of piano works too!)

All the best from Oz,

ILH
_________________________
"Oh for a world with no 'muzak' in stores ...."

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#1047128 - 05/24/08 05:35 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
btb Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4261
Loc: Pretoria South Africa
Walter Piston might be a great luminary on the subject of counterpoint but any length of study of his book "COUNTERPOINT" is guaranteed to
induce a headache ... I’ve just taken an aspirin after trying to come to terms with his heavy going literary style ... the chappie has the habit of wanting to repeat his bleat with a pernickety (but confusing) codicil.

However, he does kick off with a best foot forward ... which might help the present search for an understanding of the core of counterpoint ... (snatches from the opening "Introduction")

" The art of counterpoint is the art of combining melodic lines. The contrapuntal essence, as an ingredient of inner vitality in music is , however, something deeper than a process of manipulation and combination, and it is to be found in nearly all music.

Implicit in the term contrapuntal, by origin, is the idea of DISAGREEMENT. The interplay of agreement and disagreement between the various factors of the musical texture constitutes the contrapuntal element in music.

On the other hand, independence, or disagreement, is obtained by the use of DISSONANCES AND NON-HARMONIC tones; by AVOIDING coincidences of rhythmic stress and rhythmic patterns; by OPPOSITION of the melodic curves, making use of OBLIQUE AND CONTRARY motion.”

Anybody for tennis?

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#1047129 - 05/24/08 03:04 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
ROMagister Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 518
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
I'm curious what my favorite thinking guy, Douglas R. Hofstadter, would think about this. He started as "Artificial Intelligence" researcher, then figured the original program was unsound (from heaps of rigid rules to subtler fluid analogies) and now considers himself a Cognitive scientist, with a bit of philosophy and art (music and graphic design).

- Goedel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid
- Metamagical Themas [wide collection of essays from his column continuing Martin Gardner's games]
- Le ton beau de Marot [mainly about subtler points of translation, esp. of poetry]

He concentrates on form vs function, structure vs essence, and his current research tries to do a computer assisted (with human voting added ?) classification of melodies and music, fluid analogies and expansions (What is to X that A is to B ? etc) at multiple levels.

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#1047130 - 05/24/08 10:17 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
TrapperJohn Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/11/08
Posts: 3573
Loc: Chocolatetown, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Harmosis:
John, if you had actually studied counterpoint, you would not be taking this position. Again, do your homework. [/b]
While agreeing with you on 99% of what you had to say about counterpoint, the contested position I took was that a separate, independent melodic line is, in fact, a countermelody, and therefore constitutes an elementary form of counterpoint - no matter what it's relationship to the main melody in terms of it's harmonic or rhythmic derivation or structure.

This is either true or not and needs to be rejected as fact based on explanatory statements directly related to the assertion. Telling me that I wouldn't take this postion if I had studied counterpoint and that I need to do my homework means absolutely nothing, is an evasion of your responsibility to provide these explanatory statements, and is disappointing in it's abject dismissal of the arguement in question.

I expected better.

Regards, JF
_________________________
Every difficulty slurred over will be a ghost to disturb your repose later on. Frederic Chopin

Current favorite bumper sticker: Wag more, bark less.

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#1047131 - 05/25/08 03:20 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
The position you took was this:

 Quote:
Originally posted by John Frank:

"Well, granted a 2nd melody line paralleling the main melody at a constant interval of, say, a 3rd below is certainly not a very complex or sophisticated or advanced or classic or even "true" countermelody in the time-honored textbook sense as defined and mandated by Fux (and other authorities), And beyond that in actual practice it is far too simple or easy or basic or trite or boring or tedious or monotonous.

But fundamentally it is a countermelody. And it's use in this regard does constitute counterpoint, of sorts. While in this context it serves probably more of a harmonic function than a counterpoint function, nevertheless - as simple and basic and tedious as it is - it is a separate and unique and independent melody line..."[/b]
I thought I was clear about why your statement is wrong, but I'll try to elaborate (although, this is a very simple matter). A concurrent secondary melody which merely duplicates the primary melody, sounding parallel at a fixed interval (or interval class), has the effect of simply augmenting the primary melody that it is concurrently sounding with. This secondary melody is completely dependent on the melody that it runs parallel to, as it is running parallel to it (isn't this obvious?). This secondary melody is not at all unique because it is simply duplicating the primary melody in parallel motion. It will be heard as one line with harmonic coloring.

Anyone should be able to hear this, but hey don't take my word for it - since btb brought in Piston, let's hear what he has to say about it:

"Voices moving in thirds and sixths are almost as dependent as those moving in octaves and fifths. The parts are not strictly parallel since there is some alteration between major and minor intervals. This procedure is a very common one but the effect is rather that of a single voice with harmonic doubling than that of a combination of contrapuntal lines." [ Counterpoint, p. 85]

Do these explanatory statements work for you?

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#1047132 - 05/25/08 05:38 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Oh please..., can I quote Piston too?
 Quote:
It is worth repeating that virtually all music has some contrapuntal quality, and that no music is entirely contrapuntal, to our ears. We have seen that, in the historical periods we have been considering, the harmonic element, popularly conceived as the opposite of contrapuntal, makes important contributions to counterpoint, that is, in fact, itself a contrapuntal element.
Let me know when we're on to Prout.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#1047133 - 05/25/08 09:16 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11661
Loc: Canada
John Frank, there were certain elements in your initial definition that caused me confusion, because if they were true, it meant my basic understanding of what counterpoint is about was false. It was not about having separate melodies. Rather, I understood that counterpoint has independent melodic lines, and that the movement along intervals was an essential part. I understood you to be saying that there was main and subordinate melodies, and that interval movement was not a part of it (since you proposed the possibilty of parallel lines).

I needed to have this part clarified (independence etc.) because my basic first understanding was at risk. That has now been clarified.

If "countermelody" is to mean that there are separate melodies, as opposed to music that moves along chord progressions with only one melody, then I am comfortable with that.

I was looking for clarification on that one point, because it seemed an essential one.

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#1047134 - 05/25/08 10:28 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
ROMagister Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 518
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
OK, it's clear from the viewpoint of Information theory (Shannon's entropy and "mutual information"). That's the basis of data compressors (ZIP etc.)

Counterpoint is considered when the two melodic lines are less than independent (unpredictable from one another, new information like they were random) but more unpredictability than just a simple rule (e.g. follow by diatonic 3rds below).

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#1047135 - 05/27/08 10:26 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Jamie147 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 212
Loc: England, UK
Some very interesting views which I have read with great interest and which has increased my desire to learn more about it. I know a key signature can change during a piece but can both hands playing at different time signatures even momentarilly be considered counterpoint or is it just the differences in sound or lack of sound assuming rests play a part that define it? Are pieces that shift time signature between the hands common or unheard of? K576 has caused some old hand ailmets to surface again which throws a spanner in the works. I've not overdone it so it must be all the 8th notes. I broke my right wrist years ago which didn't heal properly and have a chipped knuckle bone on the same hand which is causing all the pain. Usually I can ignore it and it passes but not this time. I've not played since Friday and the pain has subsided. I used to crack my knuckles all the time too which I bitterly regret. Playing Knuckles in Bugsy Malone didn't help! \:D

I've been thinking for a while a physio session might be of benefit but now its essential.
_________________________
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.

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#1047136 - 05/29/08 10:47 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Jamie147 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/08
Posts: 212
Loc: England, UK
Betty, I'm surprised by your responses because you make it clear Counterpoint is not something for a beginner and I agree with you although I consider myself to be a beginner but I embrace many academic subjects including areas that are beyond my expertise. Its just one method of learning and the only method in the absence of a teacher. What you say makes perfect sense but I feel only in the context of a young beginner student with little or no music theory knowledge and with many years of tuition ahead of them. The older I get the more 'urgent' reading up on areas of interest becomes. \:D If a teacher said to me at my age "your not ready for that" I would question why and it would become a priority to understand in my own time. This should not cause conflict between student and teacher because how can anyone know too much? If anything it should show commitment and enthusiasm. Its just a shame instead of voicing your concerns you didn't put the same effort in to sharing your thoughts on the mechanics of Counterpoint as I know they will be enlightening and useful for anyone who reads them. Even young beginners! ;\)
_________________________
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.

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#1047137 - 05/29/08 11:38 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
Jamie,

I'm of the opinion that counterpoint comes to us from the best of the masters and is so very complex that no one should go it alone, but have capable instruction and listening ears from a person who has mastered counterpoint.

It's like unraveling a ball of yarn that the cat has tangled - physically and mentally. You don't want to begin this without having a set of skills in place that have prepared you for it. It's better to prevent the ball of yarn from getting tangled in the first place.

At least that's my rule about approaching counterpoint.

On the opposite end, the steady beats with hands together of a beginner, let's say child, they so much want to know and do it correctly, take a lot of work.

My students are all ears at entry point - a good habit to have - they listen to what I say and they make corrections if they need to. They pursue progress.

Their independance at the piano comes because they earned it.

I am concerned about laying out answers for adult students here in the forum - I'm finding my work of creating teaching materials (Piano Power)to be not used and understood in the way they are formatted. Again, I am thinking, two heads are better than one - one who knows the material forward and back and the person seeking the information.

It's not good enough to "understand" it you must be able to use it and work it with the brain and the hand hand in correct response to the demand.

Dedicated supervised study will get you there, all else may be dabbling. And, forbid, it could be placed erroneously into your playing mechanism - forever and a day.

Could you PM me and tell me about your music background and your pieces? I will comment personally to you. Your words commitment and enthusiasm are what interests me.

And about voicing my concerns, that's one of my responsibilities as a teacher too. Just as I help pave the way to understanding and good habits in music, I let someone know when they are "off" and "what to do about it".

Piano teaching works best when a teacher has a live student on the bench who 1) wants to be there, 2) listens to instuction, 3) prepares for the next lesson well, 4) and who trusts you and works agreeably with you building a relationship.

Betty

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#1047138 - 05/29/08 12:40 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
ROMagister Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/26/08
Posts: 518
Loc: Bucuresti, Romania
I'm the kind of ageless kid who wonders at all sort of patterns and understanding WHY, WHAT, HOW ? both in a scientific and 'feel' sense.

But my ability to DO music in real time, with my fingers' control is limited (relatively to those aspirations of understanding), and slow/hard work to improve.

Please, Mrs. Betty, would you recommend for someone like me too against trying to ever understand Counterpoint ? I sort of 'get' all sort of glimpses by listening to Bach etc. and also some good rock, metal etc. but still eager to fill the theoretical foundations to make understanding solid.

If nothing else, I may shift from the basic attempt at classical musicianship to computer-aided 'sequencing' and other forms of off-line arangement, where patterns matter just as much, and accuracy at tempo is less critical. And of course I would like to understand counterpoint for that...

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#1047139 - 05/29/08 03:25 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
Betty Patnude Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 4896
Loc: Puyallup, Washington
ROMagister:

I'm reading from your profile -
Occupation: teaching economics, book editing
Interests: history, ecology, systems analysis

You've convinced me that you can handle anything! Your occupation and interest describe a learn-ed mind with science, math and systems of discernment.

I still think a very rewarding way to learn it is to do it though the study of piano and composers and to rise to that level of your own physical and mental connections that you have put into place. Man's brain is the original computer.

Remember that the computer out put is only as good as the data entry and the programming. "Garbage In - Garbage Out".

You seem like a capable mind that can do anything he wants. It all just takes time.

Betty

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#1047140 - 05/30/08 02:45 PM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11661
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
And about voicing my concerns, that's one of my responsibilities as a teacher too. Just as I help pave the way to understanding and good habits in music, I let someone know when they are "off" and "what to do about it".
I am glad to see you inviting students to give you a background of their music studies. This is very necessary for getting the real picture before advising. This avoids confusion for all concerned and needless stress for a student. Postings on the Internet alone can be incomplete or misleading in that respect.

A teacher's voice can have a powerful impact on a student: it carries authority and expertise. I would hate to carry that responsibility, and admire your courage for speaking out when you believe you see the need. So many don't bother.

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#1047141 - 05/31/08 09:48 AM Re: Examples Of Counterpoint
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11661
Loc: Canada
 Quote:
Betty, I'm surprised by your responses because you make it clear Counterpoint is not something for a beginner and I agree with you although I consider myself to be a beginner but I embrace many academic subjects
Jamie, I understand Betty's caution, and I feel comfortable with what she has set out. I especially would not want to study counterpoint initially like an academic subject.

A misunderstanding has occurred in regards to what was addressed to me, because I have never seen fit to describe my background. Thus it was assumed that I am a self-teaching beginner dabbling in advanced theory trying to learn through this thread and academic books. This may have some bearing in discussing what to do when. As a student I claim no expertise, and can only share my experiences and personal decisions.

I have been shaped musically by one teacher for TEN YEARS. Most of that time consisted of practical guided musical experiences and only relatively recently have we moved into formal theory. That theory always has a musical link. I have been distraught to see this beautiful teaching described as "stuff and regurgitate". Perhaps I am at fault for never making my background clear.

Even at this point, personally, I would not want to read about counterpoint, studying it as one would an academic subject. I sought and found a dictionary definition that would summarize what I understood from my practical experience, and this is what I quoted.

Having returned to piano after a 30 year absence, I have only been able to play simple music of that nature: a Pachelbel fughetta with only two voices, which my teacher had me develop very much in the manner described by John Brook in the "Bach 2 hands" thread. As a singer, the idea of two voices trading off in the telling of a story came naturally, almost like being a puppeteer conducting a conversation through my hands.

However, I have have also sung in a semi-professional choir, sharing this music with my teacher to deepen my understanding. When you sing this music, you are one of the voices that a piano would play otherwise. You listen for your cue, as it were, hearing the subject being carried from voice to voice to voice so that you know when to come in, and how. THEN when you go to theory, it holds meaning. I have found musical experience to be invaluable. However, I also found that to sing contrapunctal music I needed to understand it at an elementary level. (Which I think Betty is saying.) Many of the singers around seemed to memorize everything from a CD; I could not work like that. For me the music must hold meaning.
-------------------------
On the side of pure theory, several people have suggested the exercises called Fux Species Counterpoint. I took part in one exercise and found that the process gave me an understanding that reading about it abstractly would not have. This was after a solid grounding in theory. It may be interesting to get an inside view of how people worked, how their concepts changed. Mine gets corrected four times - the process of correction and feedback is in itself important. It has been up to my teacher whether I continue with this since he has the picture of where I am at, as well as what this is about.

The exercise consists of being given a bottom melody called the cantus, and building a melody above it following a host of rules about intervals, and ending up with something that follows the rules while being musical and a separate, independent melody that ends correctly.

Any example that meets approval should probably sound like counterpoint if you play it.

Fux Species 1 attempts

These exercises help in composition, but I don't know how much of a role they have for learning to play counterpoint music.

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