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#1153685 - 09/11/07 07:02 AM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
ZeroZero Offline
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Registered: 07/31/07
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got that Super

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#1153686 - 12/22/07 06:26 AM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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I'm jumping in from the Adult Beginner forum where Keyboardklutz's example here was posted so I tried to do the exercise. I probably shouldn't be doing this: I started rudimentary theory this year starting with note names but moved rather fast, and am at the very beginning of harmony - just piecing my chords together in combination in root position: smidgin of an understanding of cadences and that there is such a thing as movement.

So this is my version, strictly following the rules Keyboardklutz posted. (I've fixed the tritone, KbK). Now I am reading here that there is such a thing as a cadence, but it's a movement from 6 to 1? Wasn't there a time when there was no 7th note, so no leading note? So that would explain the 6 to 1.

So this is my first attempt, before:

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#1153687 - 12/22/07 12:03 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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Registered: 02/15/07
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Hi keystring,
It's great that you're learning this stuff!

Now, for the fun part:

1) You've got parallel octaves at the end - that penultimate interval is an octave, not a major 6th (See below for more on this).

2) You've got two unison's in the body of the exercise (mm 2, 4). As this is First Species counterpoint in two parts, the unison may only be used at the beginning or end of the piece.

3) You have a whole note in the counterpoint for two half notes of cantus firmus (m 4). Again, as this is a First Species exercise, you should have 1:1 notes in counterpoint to the cantus firmus.

4) You have a P5 to a unison, a perfect consonance to a perfect consonance, in similar motion (m 4, beats 2-3). A perfect consonance must be approached by contrary or oblique motion.

5) You started the piece with an imperfect consonance - a major 3rd. A perfect consonance must be used at the beginning and the end.

As for the leading tone, these exercises do make use of it. The intervals of the cadence should be:

B-C
D-C

This is a major 6th interval to an octave. Notice that the major 6th contains the leading tone, resolving to the tonic.

Keep up the studies!

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#1153688 - 12/25/07 05:59 AM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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Thank you, Harmosis, for all that feedback. I feel like I'm groping in the dark since I barely have my feet wet for the most introductory level of even ordinary harmony theory, where you learn that there is such a thing as a cadence, or such a thing as V - I movement, or there is such a thing as a V. ;\)

So I have the rules you have set out, and the ones listed by Keyboardklutz. Is the basic idea that I am moving from a unison at the beginning to a cadence which is VI-octave, where VI is the leading note and those last two intervals create a cadence, meaning that it gives a finality?

Slightly off-topic: last night we were talking about plagal cadences, which in a certain quarter is being argued is not a true cadence because it contains neither the dominant nor the leading note. But it came to me that it is called "church cadence", and the notes include the VIth degree, which is actually the leading note in the present exercise. Historically might the plagal cadence herald back to earlier times?

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#1153689 - 12/25/07 02:29 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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Registered: 02/15/07
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Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Thank you, Harmosis, for all that feedback. I feel like I'm groping in the dark since I barely have my feet wet for the most introductory level of even ordinary harmony theory, where you learn that there is such a thing as a cadence, or such a thing as V - I movement, or there is such a thing as a V. ;\) [/b]
You're welcome!

 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:

So I have the rules you have set out, and the ones listed by Keyboardklutz. Is the basic idea that I am moving from a unison at the beginning to a cadence which is VI-octave, where VI is the leading note and those last two intervals create a cadence, meaning that it gives a finality?[/b]
The beginning must be a perfect consonance, but not necessarily a unison (it can be an octave or perfect 5th as well).

The cadence is a major 6th interval resolving to an octave, but that is NOT to say it is VI resolving to I. When working through species counterpoint exercises, you don't often get functional harmony, so it is best not to think in terms of it. But if you wanted to look at it that way, then the cadences in Fux's species counterpoint would be V-I (as we are discussing counterpoint in two parts, I have placed a hypothetical third part in parenthesis make the point more clear):

-B - C
-D - C
(G)-(C)

The D to B clearly forms a major 6th interval, but as you can see, it outlines a V, not a VI.

Of course this is not the case in the phrygian mode, where we would use a phrygian cadence:

-D - E
(A)-(G#)
-F - E

I you haven't already done so, you should pick up a copy of The Study of Counterpoint from Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, translated into English by Alfred Mann. It is a good step-by-step study of the species counterpoint that we are discussing now.

 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:

Slightly off-topic: last night we were talking about plagal cadences, which in a certain quarter is being argued is not a true cadence because it contains neither the dominant nor the leading note. But it came to me that it is called "church cadence", and the notes include the VIth degree, which is actually the leading note in the present exercise. Historically might the plagal cadence herald back to earlier times? [/b]
The plagal cadence is absolutely a true cadence. As you pointed out, it is often associated with church music where it was used extensively (and why it is often called the "Amen" cadence). The word, "cadence," comes from the Latin word cadere - "to fall." This stems from the fact that musical passages in general tend to fall in pitch as the phrase closes. It does not mean that the major 7th (leading tone) or the 5th (dominant) must be present.

Even so, there is descending leading-tone resolution in the plagal cadence between the root of the IV chord and the 3rd of the I chord:

D-D
G-F# *
B-A
G-D

Even more so with a minor iv chord (between the 3rd of the iv chord and the 5th of the I chord):

D-D
G-F# *
Bb-A *
G-D

Plagal cadences can be very effective, even though the IV/iv chord does not have the tension of a V7 or viiยบ.

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#1153690 - 12/28/07 06:29 AM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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Now that I have stopped Christmas-hops around the country (I feel like a flea) ... thanks again for the additional explanations. I think I'll try that exercise again.

 Quote:
should pick up a copy of The Study of Counterpoint from Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum, translated into English by Alfred Mann
I've also just looked it up and found this write-up Counterpoint (& Species) Definition
My first thought was that I have no business going any further until I have studied basic harmony, but now I'm reading that harmony theory wasn't even invented yet. I don't think I'll mix myself up through this diversion, what do you think?
I see that Fux's book can be purchased on-line. Was the original in Latin?

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#1153691 - 12/28/07 12:48 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
 Quote:
My first thought was that I have no business going any further until I have studied basic harmony, but now I'm reading that harmony theory wasn't even invented yet. I don't think I'll mix myself up through this diversion, what do you think?
I see that Fux's book can be purchased on-line. Was the original in Latin?
Yes, it was originally written in Latin.

Harmony theory was certainly known at the time, as evidenced by Rameau's Traite de l'harmonie of 1722.

In my opinion, it would probably be better not to start Fux's counterpoint and common practice harmony at the same time. Although there is much in common between the two, there are enough differences to cause confusion (for example, crossing voices is allowed in species counterpoint, but your harmony professor will not allow it!).

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#1153692 - 12/28/07 02:05 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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I'm not that far yet: just moving chords around in root position, but I skipped ahead in the harmony book and soon there will be those kinds of rules. I would like to get this exercise right though since I started it. How about this?

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#1153693 - 12/28/07 03:31 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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That's much better, except that you have the interval of a 4th (m4, beat 3), which is a dissonance; and dissonances are not allowed in two-part First Species counterpoint. There are a couple places where contrary motion would have been better (as you have a lot of parallel motion). It is also considered bad form to approach or depart from a unison by skip, but, as the cantus firmus is skipping (m1, beats 1-2), it's less of an issue. Overall, this is good work. The only real problem is the 4th in measure four.

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#1153694 - 12/28/07 04:31 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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Thanks again. I did wonder about the 4th. I was conscious that I instinctively wanted to hop down to the dominant which sounds correct to modern ears.

Are you saying that the top voice can actually cross over and go underneath the cantus? If so, that should open up some more possibilities.

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#1153695 - 12/28/07 06:24 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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nonsensical message deleted

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#1153696 - 12/28/07 06:46 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by keystring:
Are you saying that the top voice can actually cross over and go underneath the cantus? If so, that should open up some more possibilities. [/b]
Yes, but be aware of the range of the voice in which you place the counterpoint in. The counterpoint must be a "singable" melody (which is one reason for all the melodic rules), and therefore cannot go past the limits of the vocal range you place it in. The cantus firmus is in the tenor range (fits alto as well), and your current counterpoint fits nicely in the soprano range. Voice crossing can confuse the distinction of the individual voices, so use it only if it makes melodic sense to do so. Keep in mind that you're doing something musical and not simply solving a puzzle.

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#1153697 - 12/28/07 09:33 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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My harmony book lists the following ranges for theory work. Bass: the F at the bottom of the bass clef to middle C, Tenor: C an octave below middle C to G above middle C, Alto: the G where tenor ends to C an octave above middle C, Soprano: middle C to G 12 notes above that. Are these the same ranges? There were no female singers at the time as I recall.

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#1153698 - 12/29/07 11:13 AM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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Registered: 02/15/07
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Loc: California
Yes, those ranges are good. Some books may differ slightly (usually on the bass range) but those will work.

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#1153699 - 12/29/07 02:19 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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This is my last try. I was reluctant to let go of the C in brackets because it sounded so nice. I would have also liked to make the first note in m. 2 a G, but I understand that would have been a parallel movement to a consonant.

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#1153700 - 12/29/07 03:36 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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The C in brackets in acceptable (preferable, actually). The voice leading is satisfactory here. The only thing that I would call attention to is the five consecutive 3rds (m 2, beat 2 through m 3, beat 2). With this much parallel motion of the same interval class in a row, the counterpoint loses its independence for a bit. Otherwise, this is good. \:\)

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#1153701 - 12/29/07 04:19 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
keystring Online   content
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Last one, I promise - 2nd measure fixed.


I thought the C was not allowed because it is an octave, which can only go at the beginning or the end (I thought). It sounded like it should go there - why is it ok?
Thanks again for all the feedback, Hermosis. I feel as though I learned a lot these last few days.

What does "voice leading" mean?

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#1153702 - 12/29/07 05:15 PM Re: Quick question about Fux counterpoint
Harmosis Offline
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Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 308
Loc: California
Much better. Octaves are allowed in the body of the music; it is the unison that may only be used at the beginning or end.

Voice leading refers to how the individual voices (parts) that make up harmony (chords) move in relation to each other when the harmony changes.

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